Patricia Lesko's bid for Ann Arbor mayor gaining support, despite false campaign messages
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
After knocking on hundreds of doors over the past five weeks, Ann Arbor mayoral candidate Patricia Lesko has her sales pitch down.
She starts with a soft introduction. If she thinks she's made a connection, she quickly switches gears and launches into a full-throated speech on everything she says is wrong with city government in Ann Arbor.
"I'm not willing to tell you what you want to hear to get your vote, and I never will be," she told residents on Gott Street while campaigning Thursday.
"I lived in Italy for three years and there's a great saying," Lesko added, beginning to speak in Italian: Better the ugly truth than a beautiful lie. "So I want to lead a city government where we tell the ugly truths."
The mayoral race to date certainly has been ugly, with Lesko's scathing criticisms of Mayor John Hieftje spelled out all over her blog, A2Politico.com. But whether there's truth in advertising with Lesko's campaign message is debatable.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Lesko frequently plays fast and loose with the facts when discussing city spending. For instance, she told residents while going door-to-door on Thursday that the City Council gave City Administrator Roger Fraser a 35 percent raise.
"The city administrator's salary was raised 35 percent while our city slid into deficit, our roads crumbled, and the Stadium bridge fell down," she said. "Unless our city is AIG, which it is not, that should never have happened."
Beyond the fact that the Stadium bridge hasn't fallen down, Fraser's salary has risen just 9.3 percent since he was hired in 2002. It's grown from $133,000 to $145,354.
Even factoring in an $8,386 cash perk Fraser pocketed this year, his pay still is only 16 percent more than it was eight years ago.
In another encounter Thursday, Lesko told a 76-year-old woman on Fountain Street that the City Council just laid off police officers and firefighters.
"The department that buys the city's pencils and pens, they have a surplus in their fund of $1.5 million," Lesko said. "Now we just laid off firefighters and police because we were supposedly short $1.5 million."
Lesko later admitted that's not technically true. In fact, Hieftje and the council made changes to the city's 2010-11 budget this month that saved police officers from layoffs, and only five vacant positions in the department were cut. Layoffs also will be avoided in the fire department if three or four senior firefighters retire.
Lesko, a 49-year-old Dearborn native who came to Ann Arbor in the 1980s to study at the University of Michigan, is running to unseat Hieftje, Ann Arbor's mayor for the last decade. The two will face off in the Aug. 3 primary.
Hieftje has been the subject of criticisms for several months on A2Politco.com, which Lesko ran anonymously under the pseudonym "Sam Rosenthal" until announcing her candidacy. Lesko made up a background story, presenting Sam Rosenthal as a real person with experience in politics, but eventually confessed to AnnArbor.com in February that she was behind the fiery blog that likened Hieftje to Satan.
Hieftje said it's unfortunate that while he's spent the last several months working on the city's budget, Lesko has been spreading untruths.
"It's been my experience going back to her many months as an anonymous blogger, attacking the city and members of council, that it wasn't very truthful," he said. "But I really believe that Ann Arbor voters are some of the most intelligent that you'll find anywhere, and they'll figure it out."
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Lesko told several residents on Thursday that a set of solar panels installed at the downtown farmers market was never connected to the power grid. She characterized it as yet another failed project by Hieftje and city officials.
"They're solar panels to nowhere," she said. "In fact, the cost to light the farmers market since the $100,000 installation of solar panels has gone up."
Andrew Brix, the city's energy programs manager, said that's not true. He said the solar panels are connected to the grid and have helped reduced the electricity use at the market by at least 30 percent.
Brix said electric rates the city has no control over have increased, and if there is any increase in total electric costs, it is due to increased rates. He was out of town and didn't immediately have cost figures available.
Lesko repeatedly has claimed the city's municipal overhead costs have risen by 35 percent, or $34 million per year, from 2005 to 2009. Tom Crawford, the city's chief financial officer, said that's another false claim.
"No way," he said. "Our overhead costs don't even total $34 million. I don't understand where she's getting her numbers from. If she can find $34 million of overhead, she's using a different definition than most people use."
The city's year-end audits for 2005 and 2009 show Ann Arbor's general fund spending grew from $67.95 million to $83.88 million — a 23 percent increase. In that same time, total governmental spending grew from $147.6 million to $184.8 million — a 25 percent increase. Lesko couldn't produce numbers to show her rationale for stating there was a 35 percent increase in overhead costs.
Lesko's critics also have questioned her background in finance and management. Lesko proudly tells residents she's publisher and CEO of a national higher education publishing group headquartered in Ann Arbor. But she doesn't often acknowledge it's a small home-based business.
Lesko often speaks critically of the city's spending on capital projects. She said she considers herself a pragmatist and a fiscal conservative.
"I'm a saver, and if our city had saved 1 percent of the $1 billion we've generated in fees and property taxes over the last 40 months, we'd be sitting on a surplus," she told residents while going door-to-door on Thursday.
But city records show total revenue from taxes, licenses, permits, registrations, charges for services, fines and forfeits totaled $664 million from 2007 to 2010, far short of the figure Lesko cites.
Lesko later acknowledged her figures were wrong.
"I acknowledge it. People make mistakes," she said by phone on Friday.
Despite any factual inaccuracies, Lesko's message has resonated with the city's police and firefighters unions, both of which have endorsed her campaign. The firefighters union is paying for yard signs and T-shirts that read "Fire Fighters For Lesko." They also funded a large billboard that reads: "Do you care about our city? VoteLesko.org."
Craig Ferris, a member of the firefighters union, went door-to-door with Lesko on Thursday. It was his second time hitting the campaign trail with the mayor hopeful. He said union members are taking turns serving shifts.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
"We support Pat for a lot of reasons, but primarily because she understands that the fire department needs to be a capable fire department," Ferris said. "We feel that she has the best interests of the citizens in mind. And she doesn't want to have the fire department continuously dismantled and have fewer of us."
Ferris said the fire department too often has been the focus of budget cuts during Hieftje's reign as mayor since 2000. Lesko vows to increase fire services.
"It's prioritization of spending that will differentiate me from any other candidate who comes knocking on your door," she told residents on Thursday. "I'm going to have different priorities, one among which will be I want to reopen Station No. 2, which is in Burns Park, one of the densest areas of town."
Lesko's message of protecting public safety and tending to the city's basic services is also resonating with the voters she meets. Many of the residents she talked with on Thursday enthusiastically let her place campaign signs in their yards, which Lesko said brings her total count to more than 300 citywide.
Melissa Barnes and her partner Jon Cassino welcomed Lesko during a 10-minute chat on their porch. Like many Ann Arbor residents, they'd heard about Lesko's candidacy and were excited to meet her in person.
"Let's rock the boat. Let's tip some people out of that boat," Barnes told Lesko.
Lesko talks frequently of other like-minded candidates running for the Ann Arbor City Council this year, including Lou Glorie, Sumi Kailasapathy and Jack Eaton. The four, as a group, are hoping to oust the current council majority.
"I can tell you right now, she's our forerunner. By far she is our forerunner," Barnes said after Thursday's chance encounter. "It's not just a question of change. It's a question of accountability. The mayor and the City Council ... are not accountable to the citizens in the city. And they have not been for the longest time. They seem to be out for their own advantages."
Not everybody is convinced.
"Let me put it this way, I talked to her for five or 10 minutes, and I still don't have a very clear idea of what she stands for that is different from Mayor Hieftje," said Scott Spector, a U-M history professor who engaged in a cordial debate with Lesko on his porch on Thursday.
"While I may be dissatisfied with some of the directions that city government has taken over the past years, I think, like many other voters, I'm overall satisfied with the city administration," he said. "And I would need to have a stronger sense from an opponent that she was both qualified and had a clear opposing position."
Ryan J. Stanton covers government for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529.
Sun, Jun 6, 2010 : 12:03 p.m.
Threat of layoff - I was at a public event with fire fighters in attendance on May 23 where I was told by a firefighter that many fire fighters felt pressured to leave the Dept. when they did not want to or have the risk of layoffs in the weeks and months ahead. They felt like it was as bad as if they had been in a layoff as they didn't feel they had much choice in leaving. Technically not a layoff.
Sun, Jun 6, 2010 : 3:56 a.m.
Like Bedrog, I am most curious to know what Ms. Lesko's opinion is of the frequent attempts by a certain crew of local haters of Israel to hijack City Council and (The University of) Michigan Student Assembly meetings as well as the People's Food Co-op with a monomaniacal and irrelevant agenda calling on those institutions to boycott Israel in their vain attempts to isolate the only (and very tiny) Jewish State in the world. Ms. Lesko, will you please respond on this blog as to whether you support the tactics of this local, vocal minority who in their singular obsession would divert city, cooperative, and university entities from conducting their primary business? Or, like the City Council unanimously did six years ago, will you/do you unequivocally condemn their longtime ongoing harassment of the worshippers at Beth Israel Congregation on their holiest days including every Saturday on the Jewish Sabbath? Or, will you remain neutral on this issue? Or keep silent? As you seem to have strong views on many activities; social, fiscal, and political actions; and other goings-on in our fair city, surely you must be aware of the anti-Israel synagogue pickets and their other shenanigans throughout the city and must have an opinion, no? And, to complete the previous poster's thoughtsif I may be so bold, Bedrogon the series of articles in _Washtenaw Jewish News,_ here are the links, with relevant titles and page numbers on the "False Witnesses." Several of us would like to know what you think of the people described in these articles, their agenda, and most importantly, their activities. For example, as mayor, how would you handle the ongoing interference by, and outbursts from, this faction at City Council meetings? The background: 1) "False witnesses" in _Washtenaw Jewish News_ (WJN), December 2009/January 2010, pp. 1 and 26-27 online at http://www.washtenawjewishnews.org/PDFs/wjn-dec-09.pdf 2) 'The few and the just' WJN, February 2010, pp. 1, 8, and 13 by a former member of the maniacal group of all-hate-Israel/all-the time cultists and (in the same issue): 3) "False Witnesses II: The devils in the details (or vice versa)," p. 9, both items 2 and 3 above can be read online at http://www.washtenawjewishnews.org/PDFs/wjn-02-10-web.pdf 4) "False Witnesses create own Newspeak" in WJN, March 2010, pp. 1 and 32-33 and (same issue): 5) "Its the 'witness,' not the name, thats false," pp. 2 and 33-34 and (also in same issue): 6) "'Jewish peace activist' distributes Hamas forgery, other hate texts, and fraudulent internet quotes," p. 33. Items 4, 5, and 6 can be read at http://www.washtenawjewishnews.org/PDFs/wjn_march_2010-web.pdf Thank you, Ms. Lesko, for sharing your thoughts with the readers of AnnArbor.com and voters of Ann Arbor on this matter.
Fri, Jun 4, 2010 : 1:06 p.m.
I am starting to believe that she is doing all to gather attention to her blog so she can get money for advertising. Could she be a liberal Sarah Palin?
Fri, Jun 4, 2010 : 6:55 a.m.
Like others who have commented, I also was initially impressed by Lesko and her friendliness when she served as PTO president at a private school our kids attended. Later, I became concerned by her actions, including her poor judgment in fiscal matters, lack of cooperation with the school administration, and negative rhetoric. I support Mayor John Hieftje in this race.
Edward R Murrow's Ghost
Fri, Jun 4, 2010 : 6:01 a.m.
@bedrog, Given that Ms. Lesko walked out of last night's forum due to "babysitter problems" before she could face questioning from the floor, I'd not hold my breath waiting for a reply to your questions. Ms. Lesko is all for "Ann Arbor Politics Grilled to Perfection" so long as she's the one doing the grilling. Her being grilled? Not so much. Good Night and Good Luck
Thu, Jun 3, 2010 : 8:50 p.m.
@Steffanie Murray: You're joking about not allowing folks more than one name, right? How can you tell if email@example.com is any different than firstname.lastname@example.org? You're going to need a little more information, this board is a little too easy to game. I would suggest a required name and then cross reference the name to another source (either a whitepages or a general Google search with Name +"ann arbor"). If you can't confirm that, then you'll need more information, like a phone number. You then take that phone number and feed it to your circulation department for sales...
Thu, Jun 3, 2010 : 7:07 p.m.
I also was stymied by technical difficulties while attempting to access a2politico. Why can't we just communicate directly without bouncing around the Web? We are having a copious discussion here, and the candidate should give us the courtesy of just joining it, not ask us to jump through hoops.
Thu, Jun 3, 2010 : 6:28 p.m.
i notice pat lesko responded on this thread...minimally..asking anyone with questions to get on her blog. i tried and as an admitted computer dunce had no luck...plus that's her 'playing field ' and she doesnt alway play nice to visitors. so here's a direct question that i hope moderators wont remove as too personal: pat : some of your strongest online support is coming from members of the GREEN PARTY who are known antisemites ( synagogue harassers, attempted coop coopters to irrelevant to a2' boycott israel ' efforts, jew baiters at family picnics via bullhorns and hiding behind their own small kids in hamas/fred phelpsy fashion)* who would like nothing better than to have the city council divert its efforts and support to such vile nonsense. what is your position toward such people and behavior??? there. that's clear isnt it? and MODERATORS : no names were used so i trust this will stay up!! * (all of this is detailed in WASHTENAW JEWISH NEWS articles from jan, feb and march...and any credible mayoral candidate should already be up to speed on these matters)
Ryan J. Stanton
Thu, Jun 3, 2010 : 1:48 p.m.
Someone asked me to correct an inaccurate statement made above in which it was suggested that the city decided to save police and fire jobs at the last minute just when I was going door to door with Lesko. Council members made the announcement that they were going to do that on May 10, the budget was voted on on May 17, and I witnessed Lesko's claims on May 27.
Thu, Jun 3, 2010 : 11:22 a.m.
Thank you for showing up Ms. Lesko. I for one sincerely appreciate it! As a potential mayor of Ann Arbor, can you help us understand your thought process around what has transpired, and what mistakes and/or misstatements you've made? In addition what have you learned about yourself and about public communication from this series of events?
Edward R Murrow's Ghost
Thu, Jun 3, 2010 : 8:41 a.m.
It appears as if Ms. Lesko is afraid to engage in debate and discussion in a forum she does not control. A sign of how a Lesko administration will conduct itself? Good Night and Good Luck.
Anon E Muss
Thu, Jun 3, 2010 : 7:27 a.m.
.... where she has control over posts.
Thu, Jun 3, 2010 : 6:43 a.m.
Anyone who has a question is welcome to post it to A2Politico.com on this thread: http://www.a2politico.com/?p=3743. I post to my own blog regularly.
Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 8:02 p.m.
Credibility, consistency, clarity, and communication. Those are some of the important traits a leader possesses in a crisis. She has not demonstrated these traits on this issue. If it's okay to communicate in this forum regarding a favorable article, it should be okay to communicate and clarify on this one as well. This is about Ms. Lesko, not about Hieftje -- I am not a fan of the mayor by the way. To quote Amanda Maxine Hageman. "Good leaders put out fires. Great leaders prevent them."
Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 6:21 p.m.
"I have seen her respond to challenges in discussion forums, but so far on this headline story...nothing. This is a leadership test for her." She responded on her blog to the specific points in the article. Whether you agree with take on those points or not, what "leadership test" is she failing by responding in the comments on this article? The Mayor has never, as far as I know, responded to any article here. Has he also failed some mystery leadership test too?
Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 4:53 p.m.
@JohnQ My confusion is because Ms. Lesko made multiple comments on the article about her endorsement from a Firefighters union, but on this nothing. I have seen her respond to challenges in discussion forums, but so far on this headline story...nothing. This is a leadership test for her.
Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 4:43 p.m.
"I find it telling that we have not seen a response directly from Pat Lesko, except on her blog, unless she is posting here using a pseudonym. This even after nearly 200 posts, which is the most posts I have seen EVER on AA.com" I've never seen the Mayor respond on the blogs to anything that's ever been written about him. I don't hold that against him no more than I hold it against Ms. Lesko if she chooses not to respond here. Let's avoid the phony "standards" if we're not willing to apply them to all candidates.
Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 4:39 p.m.
I think Luis raises a number of excellent questions. I would like to ask Ms. Lesko Have you posted a comment on these stories about you (on annarbor.com)using a pseudonym? Have you directed others to post information for you? I did read your press release. What is your reluctance to post your concerns and clarifications here? I am trying to understand how you respond to things under adversity.
Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 4:02 p.m.
Hi Lu (sarcasm implied), I never said whether Karen Sidney was correct or incorrect with her numbers (even though I do feel she very much spins/changes the numbers to emphasize her point of view). What I said was that she is not "independent". The issue I took with you was you are calling her an independent auditor, which is impossible when she is part of the leadership of the campaigns. But once again your definition of "independent auditor" must be coming from Lesko's dictionary that somehow has different definitions than what the rest of us use in the real world.
Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 3:16 p.m.
Hi Jenn, So you are an apologist for the citys administrators and will take their opinions over an independent CPA who used the city's own auditor's records? The same city administrators who wouldn't like to see Ms. Lesko win and who have been getting incredible increases in their compensation packages while the city cuts services, staff, and are decreasing their workers compensation packages while increasing their work load? After all these same administrators have got to pay for those expensive projects and their expensive tax payer funded compensation some how. The voters don't seem all that keen on paying for it through a new city income tax.
E. Manuel Goldstein
Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 3:04 p.m.
I find it telling that we have not seen a response directly from Pat Lesko, except on her blog, unless she is posting here using a pseudonym. This even after nearly 200 posts, which is the most posts I have seen EVER on AA.com Ryan Stanton's article apparently has struck a very raw nerve. A few weeks ago, in response to another AA.com article (April 23)about Pat's campaign receiving endorsement from the firefighters, I posted the following: On Pat's own blog, I asked the following specific questions: Pat, if you are elected mayor, what exactly is your plan to correct the citys budget? What is meant by the term value engineer? What services are you willing to cut? What measures would you take to raise revenues? As mayor, would you launch an investigation into financial malfeasance generally or specifically? Will you try to get City Council to fire Roger Fraser? Will you try to get City Council to fire Tom Crawford? Who exactly would you replace them with? Is it your intention to get City Council to hire Karen Sidney as CFO, or in any other position in the city that has financial oversight? Comment by Luis Vazquez February 15, 2010 @ 12:24 pm This is the disappointing, non-specific, "typical politican" response I received: There are 746 city staff who work very hard on behalf of our city, and that includes the City Administrator and the CFO. Holding those employees accountable is the job of the Administrator. One of the jobs of Mayor and Council, as I wrote, is clearly defined by the Charter, and it is to hold the City Administrator accountable and to evaluate his performance. I have written that I most certainly would not have supported raising the pay of the Administrator through lump sum payments, additional vacation days and cash-outs between 2006 and 2010. Were not Bank of America or AIG; were a midwestern town with a structural budget deficit. Mayor and Council have a legal fiduciary responsibility to understand the citys finances. If that means requesting additional information, or asking questions of staff, the duty is clear. I have heard from several Council members that getting information from city staff sometimes requires multiple requests and lengthy waits. Unfortunately, this includes requests for financial information. Ive also heard from city union leaders that requests for financial information from city staff have gone unanswered. I would like to see a policy implemented under the auspices of which City Council requests of staff are responded to uniformly within 24 hours with an estimate of the time required to provide the requested information. If the time required is longer than 72 hours, I would like Council members to have a clear explanation why the information will take longer than that to compile. If a union president requests financial information from the city, it must be provided within the same reasonable amount of time. I have many years of experience in financial management and the interpretation of standard accounting documents and budgets. However, these skills are not requisites for holding local office, so it seems logical that Council would benefit from training sessions designed to bring everyone to a level of expertise necessary to interpret standard accounting documents so as to be able to make informed decisions, and cast votes based on equal access to information. Fourth Ward Council member Marcia Higgins, Chair of the Budget Committee, was recently quoted in the Press as worrying that the new monthly financial documents provided to the Budget Committee during their meetings could not be provided to the rest of Council and Mayor at the same time. She was concerned that the rest of Council and Mayor would not be capable of interpreting the statements. As an interested citizen (who prefers to post under a real name - for the record, I have no pseudonym at AA.com), I would like to pose the same specific questions to all the other challenge candidates for City Council.
Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 2 p.m.
logicnreasoning, I have only one word for you: AMEN! And Lou Glorie, you are out of your mind with your nonsensical allegory which basically takes up a lot of space and says nothing.
Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 1:43 p.m.
Not a huge fan, but let's give her credit for trying.
Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 1:32 p.m.
A2 grateful your list is silly and your complaints are nonsensical. There are no "free" UofM parking spots planned on "parkland" (sic) and that park land has been used for parking spaces for decades. I believe that the proposed fuller rd. station is important to the further development and well-being of Ann Arbor. And the rest of your list is 'full' of something other than holes. If this is taking the place of constructive comment, then I am hoping most will disregard it. It appears you have attended the Lesko school of communications.
Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 1:11 p.m.
Dalouie said it, plain & simple. Ann Arbor has done better than a lot of cities, including Grand Rapids, a conservative bastion that was still forced to 'raise taxes'. Ann Arbor is a good place to live and electing Patricia Lesko, after her less than stellar campaign performance, isn't going to enhance that.
Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 12:54 p.m.
@Luanne Bullington "I understand Ms. Leskos facts were prepared by an independent, outside accounting firm" independent accounting firm.... AKA Karen Sidney real independent LOL...like Karen doesn't have a horse in this race. Although she may not be part of the government she is actually more biased. Calling her "independent and outside" is disingenuous. I guess you think that it is not relevant information that your "independent" source is part of the challengers campaigns; Karen Sidney is treasurer for Jack Eaton and Loe Glorie.
Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 12:21 p.m.
Mr. Stanton makes two comments concerning his story that gave me and should give others pause. They are: plus a fair amount of fact checking, which I hope you appreciate." and We're more than sure that what we stated is true. We're talking about facts upheld by city records with confirmation of their accurateness by city officials. Mr. Stanton appears to have gotten his facts from the very same people who would lose if Ms. Lesko became Mayor. After all her message is and has been the citys administration has gotten excessive compensation increases at a time they have been reducing services, eliminating city staff positions, and cutting staff compensation packages. I understand Ms. Leskos facts were prepared by an independent, outside accounting firm that used the citys auditors records.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 7:51 p.m.
It would seem to me that this web site is not news reporting but editorializing. Call a salary not a pay package sounds like an BP executive more than a Midwest employee. Saying Pat Lesko is not telling the truth when you say you still need to look into her comments is unprofessional. Look first report later. The city did say they were going to lay off police and fire for weeks up until the last minute just when you were going door to door with her. And not hiring tens of lost workers may not seem like layoffs but it is a fine line our current majority in city government likes to walk all to often. Ask the fire and police how they feel about losing so many co-workers. They are making there feeling know by vigorously not backing the current mayor or the majority positions. God knows Ann Arbor could use more news less editorializing.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 7:36 p.m.
well this is very entertaining.I waded through all 180 plus comments and this is my take.The current mayor needs to get more in touch with the citizens.The candidate needs to check her facts better but is correct that we need some changes badly instead of status quo.And the reporter slanted his story and got a little testy when people called him out on it..............I wont vote for either mayoral candidate.Maybe a third party will run.And U of M maybe Bill Martin can get donations to help the city fix the darn bridge.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 5:35 p.m.
I am really puzzled by some of the comments on this thread. Lou Glorie (who either is or shares the same name with the 3th ward candidate) defends Ms. Lesko by pointing out (with a cautionary tale of sorts) that Ms. Lesko is actually a "pit bull" who could go for the coyote/reporter's "windpipe" and leave it on the trail. This, a description from her friend. How exactly does this help Ms. Lesko's reputation, when many voters disapprove of such behavior and are weary of such nastiness? These comments certainly are as educational as the article itself.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 4:31 p.m.
Very good article Mr Stanton. I dismissed Ms. Lesko from the ranks of credibility months ago when I happened upon her blog. Made no sense. I suppose by now both the fire and police unions have dropped their support. To support Ms. Lesko brings their credibility into question. If somehow she is elected I think these unions will discover the difference between a politician on the campaign trail and one in office. You don't HAVE to support a candidate. Maybe do one of those "vote of no confidence." Some unions are necessary but so many are simply a collection of employees in serious need of supervision.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 4:20 p.m.
@Ryan Stanton -- Thank you for your reassurance. Can you print the exact numbers, please? Both of you are saying "My numbers are backed up by city documents", so it's only fair for you to put forward your calculations the same way Lesko has. @Amelie Nash -- Thank you, I did read that article, but there are no actual figures and calculations in that piece. Some pretty serious accusations have been made, so you guys should probably be pretty open with your version of the numbers.
Ryan J. Stanton
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.
@Bridget Bly We're more than sure that what we stated is true. We're talking about facts upheld by city records with confirmation of their accurateness by city officials.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 3:38 p.m.
@Lou Glorie Are you actually claiming that staff cant be trusted with telling the truth about city finances, processes or other issues? Really? What will you do if you happen to actually win your election? Will you move to fire all staff? If staff are not objective how can they ever do their job on any given day? Who will be trust worthy enough to work in city hall? When your conspiracy theories start encompassing everyone, the elected officials, commissioners on boards, city staff, local journalist, other city residents, commenters on blogs etc., you lose all credibility and quite frankly sound a little.well off the deep end. How one acts in a crisis shows their true character. Over the past few days, you, Lesko, Eaton and Kailasapathy have shown you have no character with all these snarky defensive comments. How can Ann Arbor residents trust any one of you with our city and our finances?
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 3:27 p.m.
Anyone who implies that there are politicians who *don't* lie, embellish, or manipulate statistics (especially during a campaign) is either living in a cave or a liar too. This piece sounds like a point/counterpoint exercise rather than a true dig for the truth. That said, I'd have a lot more enthusiasm for a feisty challenger to the status quo if she would run as an independent. I've had enough of this one-party-politics where 'D' stands for 'Developer' and the working class gets screwed, all the while pretending it's the 'party of the people' or some such garbage. Give me a break.. Will. Not. Vote. Democrat.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 3:17 p.m.
re lokalisierung(?): doggie bags.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 3:04 p.m.
To Robert M How do we know that M Lesko is also not doing this, after all she as we all know - has in the past pretended to be someone else. Thank you
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 2:50 p.m.
@Robert M. It wouldn't surprise me if the mayor was commenting under an alias either. I think it's in the DNA of many in politics to play with the truth. It's rare to read about someone who seems to be so proficient at it as Ms. Lesko...
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 2:48 p.m.
Ryan Stanton: If you attack someone's numbers, then you had better be pretty sure you are right. At the moment (thanks, DagnyJ, for posting Lesko's link), you and AA.com are the ones who look biased, which is never good in a news source... live by the sword, die by the sword.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 2:43 p.m.
"I know it takes courage, in a small town, to play it fair. The big dogs have marked just about every surface in our public space. It would help if a news publication would take its role as guardian of democracy seriously." So what is aa.com gettting out of this if they are in fact doing the work of the city exactly?
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 2:38 p.m.
At professional news organizations, fact checking is not done by opponents of the subject, but by disinterested third parties. There should be fact checkers on staff who are willing and able to go outside the usual suspects to check the facts. Asking Tom Crawford to check Lesko's facts is like asking John Hieftje to comment on the truthfulness of her blog (while claiming to have never read it). Also, fact checking cannot be left up to the reporter. It is an editorial function. These are serious issues and if this publication wants to tackle them, it needs to do it professionally. Yes, I'm calling AA.com out on professional grounds. I think most people reading this are aware that different methods of bean countery will often produce different results. The old accountant's joke is "When asked by a client how much does two plus two equal?, the accountant gets up from the desk, closes the door, sits back down and answers how much do you want it to equal? In this case we have different financial reports being used as back-up for one position or another. Cited have been budgets, audits and CAFRs (comprehensive annual financial reports). There are also discrepancies in starting dates for figuring percentages of increases. For this reason alone, it would seem prudent to withhold insinuations. I know it takes courage, in a small town, to play it fair. The big dogs have marked just about every surface in our public space. It would help if a news publication would take its role as guardian of democracy seriously.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 2:26 p.m.
I wonder if one (or more) of the people commenting are Sam....I mean Patricia?
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 2:06 p.m.
"I hope there are some debates between Pat and John; and then voters can hear them out and decide for themselves." Should be on tv like every year.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 2:04 p.m.
"The inability of the city to get the bridge repaired has been a hot button issue with residents and voters and not surprisingly, Ms. Lesko pushes that button to get a reaction." I agree with what you're saying but that right there is also a little misleading. Have they actually had an "inability" to get it repaired? Well they have been unable to get grants to take some of the pressure off what they pay, so that is soprt of an "inability." Of course they can pay for it right now, but they would rather try to get some funds.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 2:03 p.m.
My wife and I rarely agree on candidates to vote for. However, we both are very impressed w/ Pat Lesko. She is extremely hard working, bright, well informed and cares deeply about Ann Arbor. Yes, some of her supporters can be "over the top", and her blog is very (too) biting, but she will bring to the city something that is missing. Common sense. I ask that voters keep an open mind. I hope there are some debates between Pat and John; and then voters can hear them out and decide for themselves
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 1:57 p.m.
Lesko does allow back talk. Why don't you go see for yourself? She has often debated with commentors on her blog. AA.com is not the only place for public dialogue.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 1:56 p.m.
"JohnQ - did you read the article? Perhaps using an idiom like "fast and loose" is a bit writerly - but it is WHOLLY accurate." I did read the article. A couple of times actually to make sure I wasn't reading my views into the article before commenting. The facts speak for themselves. Readers don't need Mr. Stanton's spin on them to help them decide which side of the facts Ms. Lesko's presentation falls on. If Mr. Stanton had made that comment in an opinion piece, it would have been appropriate and expected. I didn't expect to read it in a news article. I also found some of the "fact-checking" to be a tedious game of nit-picking. One example is pointing out that the "Stadium bridge fell down" claim isn't really true. Really? Does Mr. Stanton really think that the average Ann Arbor voter doesn't know that this is a bit of political excess on Ms. Lesko's part? The inability of the city to get the bridge repaired has been a hot button issue with residents and voters and not surprisingly, Ms. Lesko pushes that button to get a reaction. I'm sure Ms. Lesko could have phrased that differently to get past Mr. Stanton's Truth-O-Meter but really, is that kind of "fact-checking" helpful to the average voter?
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 1:53 p.m.
"Lesko has answered most of the questions raised by this article on her blog. AA.com removes long comments, so it makes sense that she would answer there, rather than in a comment here. Go see for yourself." A candidate owes it to the electorate to answer questions in a public forum, such as annarbor.com, where they can be part of a dialog. Limiting herself to her private blog, where she allows no back-talk, does not inspire confidence. How would she cope with City Council deliberations (if elected) where she could not maintain complete control?
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 1:52 p.m.
I have read some crappy reporting in Ann Arbor.com but also saw some signs that it was generally trying to keep its reporting honest and disinterested. I guess I was duped into complacency by this seeming neutrality. It now appears that AnnArbor.com had been using that old coyote trick of coquettishly yipping and flirting with a golden retriever only to lure the poor dumb mutt back to its den. Waiting inside are the cub reporters who need training in the arts of evisceration. Coyote must have rolled in something to disguise his scent. Unfortunately, he was so caught up in his wiliness that he didnt notice it wasnt a tail-wagger he was bringing home for the pups. It was a pit bull. Now, pit bull is ok with a little muzzle stroking, but coyote should not have gone for her throat. The windpipe lying on the trail, could be his own. Good luck, AnnArbor.com. Lap dog for the Larcom 8 may not be a long term career choice, but Im sure youll get a few pats on the head, some doggie bags from the WEG and the appellation good doggie from the people who matter to you. Yours truly, Lou Glorie
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 1:36 p.m.
If the election were held today between Hieftje, Lesko and "Block of Wood", I can tell you where my vote would go....
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 1:32 p.m.
JohnQ - did you read the article? Perhaps using an idiom like "fast and loose" is a bit writerly - but it is WHOLLY accurate. The article, that was begun as an apparent exposure piece on Lesko's popularity with a number of local residents, essentially showed some very real weaknesses - with the candidate and the candidacy. Stanton's journalism continues to be one of the reasons I read aa.com
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 1:28 p.m.
I don't think she's going to come even close.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 1:05 p.m.
I know others have said it but I can't help saying it again. Ann Arbor is one great place and in all categories, financially, environmentally, quality of life, etc, is doing way better than other Michigan cities. All are subject to the same financial forces. It is doing this with a millage that is lower than it was 10 years ago, with 40% of the land as non-taxable, with the recent loss of the largest tax payer and without noticeable service cuts. Mack Pool and the Senior Center are open, all 3 outdoor pools opened this weekend, it was delightful. Top of the Park is just around the corner, another great summer in A2 beckons!
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 1:03 p.m.
@John Q and @speechless I sort of disagree. Ryan's statement is not opinion necessarily in this context; it is a statement based on the facts that Ryan discovered on THAT day. He goes on in the article describing the facts presented to him THAT day that led him to make that statement. I think you are reading the Lesko frequently plays fast and loose with the facts when discussing city spending. as meaning this happened prior to the article and not in his presence. I read his statement pertaining to what happened while shadowing her. With the inclusion of the (real)facts to back up his statement, I don't find that editorializing because the article gives evidence to back up the statement. It is a description of what was occurring.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 12:48 p.m.
"... I confess that I think the Mayor has turned the city into a hotbed of cronyism and will ride the city into the ground on a bunch of bike paths." Granted, I'm not a big cheerleader for backroom cronyism, but as a local cyclist am quite taken by this commenter's apocalyptic vision for our city's future. A brisk, spiraling descent into a sea of bike paths?... More routes for everyone! Switching gears, so to speak, John Q's assessment above is a good one. While I don't fully agree that editorializing should be completely divorced from news reports, JQ's correct to suggest that the "fast and loose" comment should have been dropped in favor of more explanation of the numbers from both sides.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 12:37 p.m.
Let me see here. Ms. Lesko now claims that annarbor.com libels her because it prints a statement that the Mayor doesn't find her blog "very truthful." Surely the Mayor is entitled to his own opinion of her blog. She feels fully entitled to write whatever she wants and a disagreement with her amount to libel. Really? Ms. Lesko, could you please describe the incident at the school discussed above and post here the e-mail you sent to the parents, allegedly via a school list? If it is not true, lets get rid of this issue. It certainly is relevant as to how a public issue is handled. Thanks.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 11:55 a.m.
Hieftje certainly has his faults and it sure is a shame that Ann Arbor has been stuck with him as mayor. However, Lesko is by far a worse alternative. Knowing the FF and PD unions have backed her reduces their creditability to mush with me. They must have totally lost it. It is beyond reason that a city such as Ann Arbor cannot find worthy candidates for office. But, I guess any qualified sane person is too smart to get mixed up in local politics. The Mayor and Council are jokes and now we have a mayoral candidate that if elected would cause irreparable harm to this City's reputation. If there was ever a time for Ann Arbor Republicans to get back into the local political scene it is now.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 11:44 a.m.
I think AA.com got itself in trouble here by allowing Ryan to do some editorializing in what is otherwise a news article. Instead of interjecting a comment like this: "Lesko frequently plays fast and loose with the facts when discussing city spending." he could have presented readers with Lesko's claims and the numbers from the city. Readers aren't stupid. Most people, with enough information, can sort out the competing claims. The appropriate place for editorial comments is on the editorial page. It would have been appropriate for Ryan to write a separate editorial piece outlining what he believes are the false charges made by Lesko. I'm no fan of Lesko. But this isn't the first AA.com piece where the reporters have taken it upon themselves to cross the line between reporting and making editorial comments. There's a place for both but not in the same piece.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 11:12 a.m.
I was involved several years ago with a PTO election in which Pat Lesko participated. At first, I was thrilled that she wanted to reach out to involve more of the parent community and was eager to help that happen. What PTO wouldn't want to get more parent participation and support for activities and programs to benefit the students? I agreed to join a committee to nominate officer candidates, with the specific charge to contact people who had not "always been there". It only took about 2 weeks of trying to work with Pat before I was appalled at the divisive and viciously hurtful accusations of racism, sexism, class-ism and fraud (never substantiated in any way) she regularly leveled at the incumbent volunteer officers, and her attempts to hijack the process. She finished by accusing the PTO officers of maliciously and illegally excluding her and her partner from participating in the PTO in an e-mail sent to all parents EXCEPT the PTO officers. That use of a school e-mail list to send a message not vetted by the school administration violated both school and PTO policy. Every other member of the committee resigned in protest, because Pat Lesko was impossible to work with. This woman should not be allowed to use dissatisfaction with the status quo to become the Mayor of Ann Arbor. This time, you can do a lot WORSE by voting against an incumbent.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 11:02 a.m.
@ChuckL -- "Unless the anybody-but-Lesko crowd can divine to know what Pat's state of mine is and was, they have no right to claim she was attempting to deceive the public." After a long string of demolishing straw men (When your argument is weak, shout!), you show a glimmer of your contempt for the democratic process in this odd sentence. If I decipher it correctly, you believe that you and your righteous friends are entitled to a free pass on explaining themselves on the issues when running for office, and that the rabble have no right to draw inferences from your refusal to provide answers. They should just accept your moral superiority without asking questions. Sorry,I don't buy it. I find political positions of yours morally repugnant, as well as your style of campaigning. And I will continue to hold Lesko accountable for them unless she explicitly disassociates herself from them.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.
Lesko has answered most of the questions raised by this article on her blog. AA.com removes long comments, so it makes sense that she would answer there, rather than in a comment here. Go see for yourself.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 10 a.m.
@LuAnne Bullington -- "She should, at least have a chance to be heard." My screen says there have been 142 comments on this thread. Not a single one is from Lesko. There have been many questions and she has given no answers. Let's hear from her here, where all of us can see it (instead of her trying to browbeat Ryan Stanton in private). But then, she seems to be allergic to open give-and-take. You refer to the tightly-scripted campaign of an undergraduate for City Council that she masterminded last year. As you point out, she would not allow him to answer questions live, either in a forum or to a reporter. You somehow spin that as good. I would not be surprised to find her similarly stone-walling any questions outside of her script.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 9:36 a.m.
Ms. Lesko is not upset over the article itself. She actually admits that when she first read it that she sent Ryan an email saying that Ryan did a good job. Ms. Lesko is actually upset over the public reaction to the article and the comments that followed the piece IMO. Her response shows she does not know how to deal with people, problems, controversy or disagreement. How Ms. Lesko is responding now is a warning sign to the people of Ann Arbor; this is how she will respond to you if you dare to question or disagree with her. She uses character assassination based on nothing but the fantasy made up her in our mind and tries to destroy peoples character, life and professional livelihood. You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time but you cant fool all the people all of the time. Her response is proof yet again why Ms. Lesko should not hold office. And the other council candidates who are backing Lesko should be held accountable for their support of her.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 9:30 a.m.
i dont know ms.lesko and dont vote in ann arbor...BUT she was a mover behind a recent unsucessful council candidacy, in which it became clear after the election that her candidate had no intention of serving but was simply padding a resume for out -of- state grad school ( where he now is)...bad judgement ms lesko!! even more troubling is that a number of her strongest partisans on this thread are members of a local cult-like political party whose overriding agenda has nothing to do with ann arbor and is instead focussed on a wildly distorted view of a narrow international issue. they and it are explicated in the jan,feb and march issues of the WASHTENAW JEWISH NEWS ( 'false witnesses" series). it seems with their backing we're having christmas in the summer: i.e the "greens' raising 'red flags' re support for ms. lesko.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 9:03 a.m.
Thanks Ryan. I confess that I think the Mayor has turned the city into a hotbed of cronyism and will ride the city into the ground on a bunch of bike paths. But I'm equally concerned about Lesko's blog post. And I'm also concerned because what she claims with regard to the press and politicians is quite common. So it would be interesting to see some reconciliation of your story and her blog post.
Ryan J. Stanton
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 8:56 a.m.
@DagnyJ There are some very concerning distortions of truth in Lesko's piece today on A2Politico. We'll be talking about how to best address them.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 8:47 a.m.
Good work Mr. Stanton. Keep it up.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 8:41 a.m.
Ryan, could you please comment on Lesko's blog post about this story? http://www.a2politico.com/?p=3698 I would appear she has fact-checked herself and found your reporting to be incorrect. Also, there are some fairly important charges about you and the fact that you are asking others to supply your interview questions....
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 8:12 a.m.
Nice story Mr. Stanton, but I don't even live in Ann Arbor and I have had opportunity to observe Ms Lesko's campaign. Honestly the things you are saying here could use a little bit of a "FACT CHECK".. You are doing a deservice not only to Ms Lesko and the Firefighters but I think some of the things that you are suggesting as fact just really don't dig deep enough as to what she has been saying.. This is more like a political "hit" article that isn't really balanced or fair, and seems more in the tradition of sensationalistic cable news channels.. We all know by reading this who you are backing and it doesn't seem to be the people of Ann Arbor.. Take the time to research more and get your facts correct..
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 7:54 a.m.
Ryan Stanton: What spicy reading you have provided on May 30th to those who are still reading annarbor.com! And here I was bemoaning the fact that there are no local "investigative reporters" left. When you write "I'll say one last thing. We don't intend to give Mayor Hieftje a free pass. I assure you, we'll be watching his campaign just as closely"...do you mean that you will reveal his factual inaccuracies, cronyisms, ridding his boards of people who don't comply with this views, instances of about-face and rudeness, etc. in equally big headlines like the ones you used in your recent hatchet job of Ms. Lesko?
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 7:12 a.m.
re the exchanges between demystify and chuck l:....de is certainly correct in pointing out that who you 'pal around with' says something about a candidate....and some of leskos supporters on this thread do indeed have a notably checkered record ( no poetry intended)with a tendency to resort to hysterical hyperbole and fabrications on non-city related issues.
Tue, Jun 1, 2010 : 12:20 a.m.
It's been a busy Memorial evening on this thread! Here's an update to something I wrote 15-20 comments ago: Not having seen last weekend's article on city rate increases until this evening, I'd previously missed council candidate Jack Eaton's comment over there, which includes a few substantive paragraphs on budget ideas. They're a good start in providing the specifics that some of us have been calling for from city council opponents. His suggestion to look into permanently shifting a portion of city funds from IT, the legal dept., or from planning staff over to the FD or PD or to neighborhood city programs does seem worthwhile a much better fundraising idea than football parking in Allmendinger Park. http://www.annarbor.com/news/candidates-for-ann-arbor-city-council-respond-with-criticism-over-rate-increases-in-city-budget/index.php#comment-100472 While Jack notes that voters are free to contact candidates to learn more details about their views & ideas, it would help greatly if all challengers generally made the effort to articulate a greater range of specific ideas or proposals in their comments. By and large, the challengers and their supporters appear to favor the same several "hot button" topics or talking points over and over again. Lastly, since LuAnn brings up last fall's Judy McGovern non-interview of a 4th Ward challenger and considers it germane to Ryan's article here, and since the tone of Chuck's comment above brings back memories of some reader commentary that followed McGovern's piece, here are two links that will take us down electoral memory lane: http://annarborchronicle.com/2009/10/25/column-on-finding-the-ward-4-candidates/ http://annarborchronicle.com/2009/10/31/column-email-no-substitute-for-interview/
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 11:14 p.m.
So is Pat not evil enough for you demistify? Demistify's guilt by association and incendiary labeling demonstrate what is wrong with the anybody-but-Lesko crowd. This article was a hit job pure and simple masquerading as "balanced" journalism. Accusing a major candidate of lying, in so many words, based on the strength of the facts presented in this article represents nothing but a hatched job. I'm not going to sit by and watch a bunch of partisans tar the only real opposition to the current regime in a long time with a distorted caricature of reality. The public deserves better. If you want to continue paying for a Cadillac but only getting a Yugo in return, continue to vote for John Hieftje for mayor of this town. John won't raise your taxes, he'll just fee you to death with new 9-to-9 metered parking downtown but not to raise revenue, oh-no! He'll do it as part of "managing" limited resources that need to be given away to Google, UofM and host of other wealthy big shots! Don't think so, then look at the giant hole next to the Library where the mayor wants to put a hotel and convention center on top of the underground parking using public money that could have been used to maintain the eliminated positions in the Fire Department; what a great idea to add hotel capacity to a town with too much hotel space already! And AnnArbor.com will buy this program hook-line-and-sinker; you won't see them questioning the mayor on these loads of bollocks. But you will see them defend you from the evil usurper, Jack Eaton, who can't get his street corners right! Oh and never mind that Ryan misstates his numbers and withholds relevant info; if Ryan's not lying, then neither is Pat, either! If Ryan gets to correct himself and humbly admit his non-consequential errors, so to should Pat be given the same opportunity. Accuracy demands it. Unless the anybody-but-Lesko crowd can divine to know what Pat's state of mine is and was, they have no right to claim she was attempting to deceive the public. I will maintain, as Glenn Thompson's analysis shows, Pat remains substantially correct in describing a picture that normally would never see the light of day were it not for here keen analytical abilities.
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 10:38 p.m.
"Lesko wrote on A2Politico tonight that I am working with her on making corrections to this story." Ryan,I know you are standing by your story and I also know Ms. Lesko is standing by her remarks. It appears to me she is trying to meet with you and Mr. Deering which seems a reasonable request since you have done an outstanding job of trashing her. She should, at least have a chance to be heard. This city has seen too many cases such as this. Last fall Judy McGovern trashed a decent young man because he wouldn't do a face to face interview for fear what has happened to Ms. Lesko would happen to him. He wanted his statements in writing so he could defend himself. What happened was he got trashed anyway. She didn't trash him on his merits but only on the fact he wouldn't do what she told him to do.
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 10:28 p.m.
Every time I look into this blog I am amazed at how little the posters know about what is going on in Michigan and beyond. Ann Arbor continues to be the leading city in the state, not by a little but by miles and miles. Do you ever look at what is happening in other cities? A2 is a top rated city on the national scale and that is saying something considering it is in Michigan where the economy has been depressed for nearly 10 years. A2 keeps moving forward and the city has not raised taxes, the millage has not gone up. All across Michigan tax increases are on the ballot or big layoffs are taking place but not in A2. Despite the loss of Pfizer and despite having so much land as non-taxable, the quality of life is still improving and the city still wins major awards as a great place to live. The city government in Ann Arbor is thriving in the middle of a near depression. Taxes have not gone up. Stop whining.
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 9:52 p.m.
Ryan, Since you now appear to be aware of a2politico, can you do reporting on all of the issues that have been pointed out in the blog? If there are issues with some of the numbers, perhaps we can get a better picture of what's happening in our city government. Also, is there a way to segregate comments from people who give their real names from the aliased ones? I think real people would give your journalism a little more transparency (since you respond to comments and update your story). Thanks, Joe
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 9:13 p.m.
What a shame! The Mayor is terrible city leader, and the only way he can keep his job is to make sure his opponents get trashed.
Edward R Murrow's Ghost
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 9:04 p.m.
Having been caught in a series of lies, Pinocchio's nose just keeps getting longer. Where is Gepetto when you need him? Good Night and Good Luck
Anon E Muss
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 8:57 p.m.
@Ryan: Hmmm, it doesn't say anything like that on a2politico now. Under normal circumstances we'd all just have to wonder whether you were making it all up. +++ @5 Im working with Ryan Stanton to make corrections to his piece. I sent an email today asking to meet with him and Tony Dearing, the Content Chief. Rate this comment Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast) Comment by A2 Politico May 31, 2010 @ 6:05 pm +++ Good thing I saved it.
Ryan J. Stanton
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 8:57 p.m.
For the record, she just reposted my comment on A2Politico.
Edward R Murrow's Ghost
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 8:47 p.m.
@Ryan: You remind me of me many years ago. Keep at it!! Good Night and Good Luck
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 8:46 p.m.
Ryan Anyone who moderates their blog in this way loses all credibility in one fell swoop, and has no business running for public office. And anyone who questions my chiming in on A2 city business; well, I have as much right, as an Ann Arbor worker, as any of those police or FFs working on Lesko's campaign who don't live there either. hmmph
Anon E Muss
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 8:36 p.m.
@Ryan's recent: Well knock me over with a feather.
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 8:35 p.m.
Ryan, I am so glad you are standing by your story. My history with Ms. Lesko is that she gets very angry and nasty when she is caught in any of her many lies. I'm sure you will hear a lot from her because of this story. I really appreciate your writing it, all the work that went into it, and especially your explanation of how the article came to be. I echo the sentiments of other commentors--there is much more about Pat Lesko the public should know. I have no doubt the community will figure her out, I just pray it happens before the election.
Ryan J. Stanton
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 8:24 p.m.
Lesko wrote on A2Politico tonight that I am working with her on making corrections to this story. In case anyone has read that, that is definitely not true. She is trying to challenge parts of the story now and I have told her I stand by my reporting. I stated that on A2Politico but she deleted my comment, so I suppose I will have to state it here.
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 8:14 p.m.
@ChuckL -- Why are you so obsessed with it being mentioned that Libby Hunter walked beside Pat Lesko? Is she an essential prop of the campaign? Is she Pat Lesko's Joe the Plumber? I find it much more interesting that you are participating in the Lesko campaign, as you have an extensive political track record (much franker than Lesko's), including the advocacy of dragging extremist foreign policy initiatives into the City Council (and the food co-op). This justifies questioning Lesko as to where SHE stands on such issues; such questions already arose last year over the Council candidacy she master-minded (and were not answered then).
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 7:42 p.m.
I am surprised that Lesko's supporters are crying foul at Stanton's investigative journalism. These people had no complaints when the A2 News went after Leigh Greden et al for sending snarky emails on council time. The job of a free press is to inform readers of what's going on behind the scenes. Challenging the veracity of a candidate's statements at the door is certainly fair game. The viciousness with which Lesko & her people go after the mayor and other councilmembers also bothers me. I have watched Council meetings. Our representatives are hard-working public servants. The compensation they receive does not begin to match the hours they put in. Even though they make decisions that are opposed by some, they do it with the best interests of the community in mind. Show them some appreciation. Heiftje is not Satan or Hitler. OMG! I'm embarrassed to share a city with anyone who makes that comparison. Lesko and her slate -- including Sumi, Lou and Jack -- are caught with their pants down on this one and do not like it. There is no principled defense for lies. Don't cry foul at being exposed. Work on cleaning up your act.
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 5:12 p.m.
Organized opponents of the current city council have some transparency issues of their own. Besides deleting discomforting, critical comments from their blogs, or strategically evading interviews by certain local reporters, or getting defensive over bad behavior by one or more in their group do we have a clear sense of how they would set the city budget and what they would give priority? What do they see as essential services? What line items should get more city money and what will get less? What are their own pet projects? What will they do in outlying areas of town, or are they just as downtown-obsessed as the current council? I guess what's most bothering me is that Pat Lesko and allied city council candidates thus far seem sufficiently vague so as to allow them to build a superficial appeal that reaches out widely, reeling in both progressive voters on the left and tea party activists on the right. This approach could well net them more votes, yet it also presents abundant contradictions lurking under the surface in regard to public perception of their actual policy and budget perferences. Is it their intention to largely defer a transparent resolution of these outward contradictions until sometime after the August primary? Yes, it's true that open-book governance, the Stadium bridge, the city hall additions, and the library lot all demonstrate problematic social and fiscal issues. Locals of many political stripes can agree on that. But these concerns represent just a small portion of what happens on at city hall. If elected, what direction generally do council opponents want to take the city, and how specifically will they get us there?
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 4:50 p.m.
As bad as Lesko may be in matters of truth, the incumbent gives her an opening with ideas like a local income tax and with what seems to be the assumption that no matter how difficult times are for us, the city must keep spending on everything it has been able to spend on during good times. She may be seen as a nut but also as a lesser evil for the times.
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 4:02 p.m.
Ryan's report on the mayoral challenger reminds me of an article I read several months ago about the elected "reform" mayor of Kansas City. http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2009/09/02/funkhouser/index.html In 2006 a reform candidate in Kansas City similarly called for greater fiscal responsibility, and for an end to developer cronyism at the K.C. city hall. The results, following his successful campaign, were something else altogether. It might not be a bad idea for A2 voters to 'upgrade' their mayor & council representation by electing some new faces, At the same time, recent political events in Kansas City once again bring home the lesson that we should always maintain healthy skepticism toward any and all challengers, just the same as toward incumbents who maintain that everything's going great. The semi-comic fiasco of the Funkhouser administration in K.C. shows the public risks undertaken when voters too quickly embrace an "anybody but..." campaign theme. When you throw the bums out, be sure you're not merely trading one set of louts for another, in the end merely gaining a different flavor of failure. Otherwise to quote some words of eternal wisdom on the nature of leadership which were spoken earlier this year during the Super Bowl Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Ryan J. Stanton
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 3:55 p.m.
@ChuckL I'm going to respectfully disagree with you that Libby Hunter's perception of the day and my perception of the day are much different. She stated above that the response from voters was enthusiastic and that several residents agreed to host yard signs. I reported that in the story both that Lesko's message was resonating with voters and that she placed many yard signs. Even the headline reflects that. She cites one quote from Craig Ferris that was not in the story. It's simply not possible to publish every single statement someone makes in one single news story. This story would easily be 10 times longer if I went that route and nobody wants that. That's not how journalism works. You select the most pertinent information and report it, and I promise I have given you a very accurate account of Thursday's outing in this story, plus a fair amount of fact checking, which I hope you appreciate.
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 3:36 p.m.
Ms. Lesko's work experience is directly relevant to her campaign for mayor. A CEO of a "national" home based business? How many employees? She has ducked questions about her direct work experience both in interviews and in her blog. Any political experince? Any elected office? Hey, I mow my own lawn and sometimes my relative's lawn out of state. I guess I'm the CEO of a national landscaping company!
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 3:21 p.m.
Ryan, I agree 27.9% and 22% are substantially the same in the context given. Apparently, you can see how problematic it can be to arrive at the correct percentage. The mayor's supporters have been quick to howl "Liar" based only on the strength of your comments directed against Pat Lesko. In a similar light, Pat's supporters have come forward on this thread to point out how her comments have been substantially correct in the proper context. It would be a great disservice to this community to conclude that you are a liar based on an errant percentage or for that matter, to conclude you have nothing worthy to say. However, the comments by Libby Hunter on this thread are relevant since her perception of what transpired on the day you reported on are so much different from what showed up in the piece presented here. Had your article included a mention of Libby, people who were interested could have consulted her for her take on what had happened; but not so if her identity had remained concealed.
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 3:01 p.m.
Ryan, you shameless pot-stirrer. At least she didn't claim to be a Navy SEAL. Politicians stretch the truth all the time. From what I've gathered. She sort of followed Ben Franklins example (poor richards almanac). It's not original I suppose. But it's still works. The most important fact? Hieftje should go!
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 2:44 p.m.
I'd like to clarify that I said I cringed at the *style* of Lesko's blog, not her statements per se. She has a flair for drama that doesn't match well with my academic habits and leanings. I neither endorse nor criticize her statements overall. But she has often been able to surface issues effectively and has spurred some useful discussion. She has also been able to voice the frustration that many of us feel with the way the city has been mismanaged. With regard to various figures and calculations, these can be misleading regardless of who is describing them if you are not able to see the entire picture and how those figures are put together. To use a simplistic analogy, if I ask you the cost of living in your house and you respond with the amount you are paying on your mortgage, you are not lying to me, but you have omitted the cost of taxes, insurance, and maintenance, not to mention the utilities. Often officials can give misleading numbers because they are not including all relevant factors. So I tend to discount all the statements in the article that allege Lesko is using figures misleadingly, since I have not been given enough information to judge. I have admired the work of this reporter and have been pleasantly surprised at the overall management and editorial decisions with this new publication, AnnArbor.com. But this story took me back to the bad old days of the despised Ann Arbor News, where the editorial perspective leaked noticeably onto the news page. I hope that it is an anomaly. I'll have to take Ryan Stanton's explanation of how it came about at face value. But this paragraph gave me pause: "Lesko's critics also have questioned her background in finance and management. Lesko proudly tells residents she's publisher and CEO of a national higher education publishing group headquartered in Ann Arbor. But she doesn't often acknowledge it's a small home-based business." It would appear that Stanton is using an anonymous source here. Who are the critics? Was this something he heard in conversation or was it a specific statement made to him in an interview? Did he give Lesko a chance to respond to these statements? And by what metric are we judging it to be "small"? Politicians often use their resumes to their best advantage. For example, in our 2008 race, Carsten Hohnke described himself as running a business (Westpole Inc.) but I had information that the office had been closed and he was apparently running it from home. I chose not to make that public because I considered it irrelevant to the issues and his ability to serve. Also, how does one judge the success or importance of a business or how that experience qualifies one to run for office? Do we need a certain profit level or what? And many enterprises are now run from home offices (this is the online era, folks). All in all, this was a cheap shot and one that appeared to originate with Lesko's political foes.
Ryan J. Stanton
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 1:13 p.m.
A comment I made yesterday that stated Lesko cited CAFR statements that showed total city expenses rose from $144.5 million to $184.8 million from 2006 to 2009 should have said that works out to a 27.9 percent increase, not a 22 percent increase.
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 12:45 p.m.
Why am I not surprised to hear about a politician (wannabe) telling untruths (lying) je
Ryan J. Stanton
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 10:58 a.m.
@Alfie Ah, yes. You're exactly right. My apologies for not mentioning Kunselman, who is the university's energy management liaison.
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 10:51 a.m.
Stephen Kunselman is also a U of M employee. I dont think that employee status in any way affects a council member or mayor's ability to serve.
Ryan J. Stanton
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 10:09 a.m.
@annarbor28 Mayor Hieftje is an intermittent lecturer in public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. He teaches one class every fall and is paid a little over $16,000 for it. I've asked him about it in the past and he has pointed out that several past mayors of Ann Arbor have worked either full-time or part-time for the University of Michigan, including some full-time professors. With U-M being such a large employer in town, Hieftje argues it would have a chilling effect on the number of qualified people running for office to say people with any ties to U-M can't serve as mayor or on the City Council. Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward, also is an administrative assistant at U-M.
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 9:45 a.m.
This story is about Pat Lesko's misstatements and inventions about the city budget. There has been no response from her and some obfuscation from a few of her supporters. Shooting the messenger is not an answer. We now have a bunch of "You're another!" posts from her camp. They also don't answer the questions. This particular story did not cover Hiefje, and rants about him are not relevant to this discussion, just attempts to change the (embarrassing) subject. Save them up for after the promised article about Hiefje.
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 9:33 a.m.
Could someone please explain if the mayor works for the U-M and also is Mayor? Is he on leave from the U?
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 9:28 a.m.
While the article was useful, it was actually a mild article. There are really absurd statements on her blog. It now makes sense that no one can discuss these issues on her blog, as evidently as indicated above she will not allow criticism of her positions (as is her right by the way, since it is her blog.) One writer above claims she is an open book and should get some credit for that. A candidate gets no credit from me from simply dumping onto a blog anything that comes to mind, whether true or not. Her relish of the divisive is not the mark of a leader or a thoughtful person. Even her supporters trying to defend her make no real sense. She is going to "be as tough as nails" with the firefighters. Yet she just vowed to increase fire services and open another fire station. (Also the mayor doesn't negotiate union contracts as her supporters seem to imply, I believe that is the job of the city administrator.) While I am supportive of both fire and police, economic issues still have to be considered. This blatant attempt by some in the fire union to scare up support for Ms. Lesko is really distasteful to many city residents on my street. Again, if you read Ms. Lesko's blog, and know something about what she claims to be speaking about, you will cringe (as Ms. Armentrout has stated). Many residents care a great deal about the City (as the ad says) -- and that is why they will continue to cringe at the thought of her being elected to anything, including Mayor.
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 9:19 a.m.
Direct support of a candidate by the firefighters union? No thanks.
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 9:17 a.m.
Ryan- Let's be clear. The people attacking you for not mentioning Libby Hunter are simply angry that their candidate was caught lying -- repeatedly -- to voters. Libby's presence or absence in the story does not change the central premise of your story: Pat Lesko lied to voters on numerous occasions, and she admitted doing so. Period. Every comment on this story addressing any other issue is nothing more than smoke and mirrors."
Ryan J. Stanton
Mon, May 31, 2010 : 8 a.m.
I'll try to respond to the claim that I lied by omission by not mentioning that Libby Hunter was there on Thursday. She showed up toward the very end of Thursday's outing, after I followed Ms. Lesko and Mr. Ferris to many, many doors. Notice you don't see her in the pictures, because she was not there. In fact, after she did finally show up, I can recall being at only one doorstep with her where there was any kind of encounter with voters, and that was the Barnes residence, which is mentioned in the story. Lesko and Ferris did all the talking, and I did quote from that interaction and state that Lesko's message resonated with them. I have no record of Hunter saying anything. She stood quietly in the background. The only omission here is that I did not state, "Libby Hunter, an Ann Arbor resident and supporter of Lesko, also showed up and helped pass out fliers with Lesko and Ferris." I don't believe that changes anything in the story, and I think it would be silly to call anyone a liar for omitting such a sentence. There is a significant information gathering process that goes into a piece of journalism like this. Inevitably, for the sake of presenting a concise, readable story, some details are left in and some are left out. Reporters don't just haphazardly spill their notebooks. I suppose I also could have mentioned the dog on the porch that took a liking to Lesko, who uttered that she had wished she brought her dog treats. Does that really matter, though? And just so everyone better understands how this story came to be, I set out on Thursday to follow Lesko intending to write a story on the growing support for her campaign, especially from the firefighters. When I heard her repeatedly make several claims that I later fact-checked and found to be untrue, the story took an unexpected turn. As a good journalist, I couldn't ignore that of Lesko or any candidate for that matter. There is no grand conspiracy here. Lesko herself knows that. She told me yesterday she knows it's not personal and, all things considered, she thinks I did a great job with the story, and that it's about time there was an open and honest discussion about the facts. In fact, she says she's already getting more yard sign requests since the story ran. I'll say one last thing. We don't intend to give Mayor Hieftje a free pass. I assure you, we'll be watching his campaign just as closely.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 11:54 p.m.
I can't believe that anyone would vote for Lesko after being caught in so may lies! She is destroying herself by doing this. I have worked for the City of Ann Arbor for over 15 years and I don't think that our leaders are all that bad. Sure they do things that I don't agree with, but doesn't everyones employer? I don't understand why the police and fire fighter unions would back someone that is getting caught in so many lies. I hope for their sake they have a great reason and a plan. I for one am happy that my union, AFSCME, has decided to stay out of this!
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 11:04 p.m.
There is one point I have not heard mentioned yet. It is Ms. Lesko's amazing ability to alienate just about everyone in City Hall, except the Firefighters. The Attorney's Office, Utilities, Engineering, Energy Office, Parks, Planning and Development Services, upper management, lower managment, union etc..... In all my years(yes, I work for the City) of employment I have never seen any candidate, especially one running for mayor, attack(with mis-information)City Staff to such a degree. Does she not realize many of us are Ann Arbor voters?? It is is one thing to constructively criticize, everyone needs that on occasion, it's another thing to attack with such untrue, ridiculous distortions of the truth without ever bothering to try and FIND out the truth. She has no clue the work that City staff does, and yet she criticizes based on some opinion she was told. It's really amazing. I started out with a positive view on Ms. Lesko, but her writings leave me mystified. Let's assume she does win, how do you possible think she could accomplish anything when she was so willing to attack City staff based on lies and distortions? Not because staff is afraid or 'hurt' by criticism, rather how can you respect a leader that based so much of her campaign on such lies. Either she is too lazy to find the truth or she is willing to say ANYthing to get elected. I'm not sure which is scarier. The City Staff is not too blame for any of the issues she has, its probably too late for her to realize that. It's fine is she wants to criticize, she should at least take the time to get some information to base that criticism on.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 10:54 p.m.
demistify, What "Conspiracy Theories"? Thanks for reminding us all that the issues are not relevant, only the labels. And you're wrong! Ryan concealed a relevant fact which is lying by omission.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 10:51 p.m.
Thank heavens for FOIA's and Pat Lesko or the Mayor and his supporters would still be treating us like mushroom. You know kept in the dark and fed manure All the Mayor and some city administrators can do with their record is -- kill the messenger. After all they cant justify some city administrators getting huge compensation packages while other city workers see their jobs lost or compensation packages cut and city residents see their services reduced or eliminated. Keep giving them heck Pat. It's time the city had an HONEST conversation on city administrator's compensation and what is really going on with our city's budget and the budget process. Keep giving us the facts and remember for the rest of the negative Nellies opinions are like belly buttons. Everybody has one. And before it was AnnArbor.com it was the Ann Arbor News and they endorsed George W. Bush.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 10:26 p.m.
The University is doing just fine, buying buildings, making capital improvements, expanding as usual. If charm doesn't work to get money from Mary Sue, then close the Stadium Bridge before someone is killed on it or under it. Then publicize all over the state how the U-M, that great institution run by Mary Sue C., doesn't care enough about Ann Arbor and its alums to rebuild that nice bridge to keep a good flow during football season. By the way, that bridge really does need to be closed. It's a total hazard. Who makes that decision?
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 10:21 p.m.
Ryan is now taken to task for failure to regurgitate Lesko's campaign propaganda (a2politico) in fulsome detail, by a well-known conspiracy theorist who avers that failure to transmit her gospel "truth" in full should be characterized as "lying".
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 9:49 p.m.
Ryan, I'd like an answer to a question posted at a2politico.com from Robert C. Smith, "I saw the piece on AnnArbor.com today. Do you think this was retaliation for your questions aimed at Laurel Champion? Its no wonder Bomeys piece didnt mention Spark, he would have had to mention Champion is on the Board." I'd also like to know why you "lied" through deliberate omission about Libby Hunter's presence with Pat on her campaign canvassing outing you reported on. Using terms like "false campaign messages" when you can't even report on the basic facts, that is, the number of people present at the event is truly disingenuous (or otherwise known as lying.)
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 9:38 p.m.
Ryan Stanton reported that Pat Lesko cooked the books in her version of the city budget. David Cahill defends her by showing how he would have done the creative accounting on her behalf. A couple of her other supporters (including a running mate) try to impress us with stray selective numbers. As Mark Twain wrote:"There are lies, there are damned lies, and there are statistics". There have been no explanations or apologies from Lesko about the false numbers. There are no details from Lesko as to how she would deal with the budget, except for specific proposals that would bust the budget (rebuilding the Stadium bridge without federal or state funds, more money for the firemen). Most of the comments in her support choose to ignore the phony numbers (The end justifies the means?) and engage in generalized bashing of the incumbents. One implies that Hiefje conspired to have Pfizer leave town and then to have the University buy the site (amazing power for the mayor). Another is naively impressed with Lesko's remark that the city would benefit if the University made voluntary contributions to it (presumably in response to Lesko's fabled charm). In today's difficult economic climate, this is a bad time for cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face politics.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 9:05 p.m.
logicnreasoning said, "@annarbor28 Every university cited by Lesko that pays a PILOT is a "private" university. UM is a public state institution. The city has no leverage to extract money from the State. Yet another example of Lesko misleading the voters. " The problem with logicnreasoning's argument is that even the current Mayor admits that getting a PILOT agreement is something the city needs to work on; he just has not aggressively pursued one. I would suggest this lack of urgency to get a PILOT is related to the Mayor's preference to get the Fuller Road Mass Transit station built. I would further suggest the Mayor's employment with the U is also a factor hampering Ann Arbor's attempt to get voluntary payments from them.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 8:49 p.m.
Lesko...Hieftje....who cares. This mega liberal Dem leaning lifelong resident of TreeTown will be voting Republican. Stop the madness.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 8:33 p.m.
@logicnreasoning: I am not advocating forcing the U-M to contribute to the city to pay for the services it receives. I am speaking about negotiating with the university so that it is not constantly leeching off the U-M for services, roads, protection, firefighting, etc. The fact that U-M refuses to assist in repairing the bridge it helped to destroy over the years is inexcusable. At least Ms. Lesko is aware of this possibility, as opposed to the current regime in power in A2 who just rolls over and refuses to try to get the U to pony up.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 8:19 p.m.
Ryan, Pat Lesko has written fairly substantial blog posts about some of the numbers you are taking issue with. It appears that in some instances you and she are talking about different things. For example, on the subject of Roger Fraser's compensation--you are talking about his salary. As she makes clear in her blog post from Feb. 15, she's talking about total compensation--specifically raises, lump sum payments, and cash-outs. There's a similar disconnect on the topic of overhead costs which Lesko discussed in a post on March 26. I'm sure if I went through your article point-by-point and compared it to her blog, I could identify where she is getting the numbers she cites that you are questioning. The thing is, that's not my job--it's yours. The citizens of Ann Arbor depend on news organizations like annarbor.com to do the research and present the facts, in an unbiased way. You have failed miserably to do so in this instance.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:55 p.m.
Lesko's defenders can't change the key fact of Ryan's story: Lesko admitted giving false info to voters... more than once. An isolated mistake could be forgiven. But Lesko does not deserve forgiveness because Lesko's mistakes were significant (involving major city issues), repeated (she did it multiple times about multiple issues in just a few hours), and brazen (she did it front of a reporter). And for people like me and the many others who've posted here who know Lesko, there's another reason this story hits home: this is just the tip of the iceberg of Lesko's deceptions and uncivil behavior. Dig deeper, Ryan.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:40 p.m.
@annarbor28 Every university cited by Lesko that pays a PILOT is a "private" university. UM is a public state institution. The city has no leverage to extract money from the State. Yet another example of Lesko misleading the voters.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:21 p.m.
Ms. Kailasapathy: As a council candidate who has now read these comments, would you be able to answer to the questions I posed above. I believe there would be many readers interested in your answers, mainly because there is obviously a concern about Ms. Lesko's views and blog. Thank you for responding.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:19 p.m.
The billboard location mixup, maybe Lesko get her facts from the same Jack Eaton. Apparently failing to check your fact is something anyone is capable of.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:13 p.m.
As opposed to those who think they're smart enough to fool everyone... folly town!
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:11 p.m.
If there wasn't so much justified criticism of the current A2 administration, then Ms. Lesko's candidacy would not be gaining so much support. Until annarbor.com does an article that exposes the many missteps of the current Mayor and his City Council, which culminate in not planning for repair of a disintegrating bridge, then it will appear that the publication favors him. The Stadium Bridge fiasco is the Mayor's Katrina.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:06 p.m.
A2politico is not well mannered, it is censored. Ever wonder why there are no opposing viewpoints in the comments? It is because she blocks them from being posted. I know first hand that posts are omitted and refused. The irony is that my post got censored on a2politico because I called her a liar after the last election. Go figure??
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 6:49 p.m.
Actually, this is the place for venom... a2politico.com is typically well mannered; >
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 6:47 p.m.
I think Stanton and Lesko are talking about two different numbers regarding the one billion generated by the city in the past 3 years. Lesko is right in terms of "Total all fund revenue" in the budgets. Total all fund revenue is about $350 mil a year and this comes out to about 1 billion total in the past 3 years. Stanton is talking about revenue as it would appear in audited statements it would seem. In which case it would not include bond proceeds, fund balances, etc that Lesko's number would include. Lesko is talking about the total cash that has come into the City's hands (broader concept) versus Stanton's total revenue earned by the City(narrower concept). Lesko's point it to show how much cash has come into the hands of the City in just three years and how much more services have we received for that? Both of them are right. They are just talking about two different things.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 6:40 p.m.
Mention of her blog has reminded of something others have not mentioned: now that Ryan Stanton has written an article (which apparently reads accurately for many, finally shedding light on facts rather than spin/hyperbole/dramatic effect), how much does anyone want to bet that he and all of AA.com are going to be characterized as the anti-Christ on AApolitico? I'm picturing "The Politics of Truth: why my half-truths and exaggerations don't really matter but those people who cast stones at me are evil..." Seriously, though, you know the venom is going to be pretty strong. Stanton and/or AA.com will take the fall for all 50+ of the anti (or skeptical of) Lesko comments following this article...
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 6:38 p.m.
@Christy: Thank you, that is exactly what I was looking for, and if this was written by Lesko, it is right on target. Below is an excerpt from that blog, about PILOT payments that are voluntarily made by universities and colleges to pay for some of the services they use in a city, even if it is not mandated by law. Now there's the Stadium Bridge to repair, U-M, where are you? Could it possibly be that the current mayor and his City Council are a bit too cozy with the U?? Or are they just unimaginative as to revenue sources? "Strategies used by elected officials in Cambridge, Providence, Boston and even New Haven, CT, where Yale officials make annual PILOT payments of $2 million per year, demonstrate that Ann Arbor needs elected leaders who can and will craft an aggressive PILOT program. For many years, weve been misled into thinking that it simply cannot be done because, according to the fractured logic circulated, the University of Michigan cannot be taxed thanks to its autonomy granted by the states Constitution. A PILOT program is not a tax. It would allow our city government to pursue good neighbor payments not just from the University of Michigan, but from other large non-profits in town, as well. For Ann Arbor taxpayers, a PILOT program could very well mean we could see some respite from shouldering the heavy financial burden of having nonprofit neighbors with big plans for everything, in particular, expansion. PILOT payments are voluntary payments, and a PILOT program could bring in $4-$6 million dollars in additional revenue to Ann Arbor."
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 5:33 p.m.
Until the Stadium Bridge is fixed, then all incumbents need to be replaced. The University of Michigan needs to fund a substantial portion of the repair of the bridge. It has put substantial weight on it over the years from construction and football traffic. The powers that be need to negotiate a settlement from U-M to pay substantial amounts of money each year to pay for its usage of the city. Even though it is not legally obligated to do so, many other colleges and universities around the country have worked out ways to financially give back to the cities they occupy. The bridge is a travesty. The current mayor and city council are so tied up in their own little pet projects such as unnecessary parking structures, and fountains, that they ignore the obvious. Where does Ms. Lesko stand on getting the U-M to pay up for its use? The current mayor and City Council must go, due to their incompetence, and if this woman is the only choice, then regrettably I will vote for her and whoever she is allied with.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 5:32 p.m.
Integrity is one of the most important factors I value in public officials. After learning more about Lesko, I am convinced that intergrity and truthfulness are secondary concerns. If something spun or told falsely gets more attention from a voter, then she appears to not hesitate to use it. I will not support or vote for this candidate. Anyone associated with her should be concerned about some of this rubbing off.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 5:31 p.m.
Yes, the CAFR is definitely your friend.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 5:18 p.m.
Hieftje is a insider/conflict of interest Mayor. Losing the largest employer in Washtenaw Co., let alone the City of Ann Arbor, IE, The Pfizer debacle and yet another, subsequent, sweetheart/land grab by the U of M (if that's not a conflict of terms) while teaching at the University is 100% a conflict of interest, not to mention, that he has always put his secret agendas through, such as, secret speed trigger traffic lights (Plymouth Rd. others) and told people to stay quiet about them. That is bad, IMO, He needs to go. Maybe Chicago? However, if what is being reported by A2.com is true, (I have many doubts about the integrity of A2.com for numerous reasons) Patricia Lesko has a problem with telling the truth. What's the fascination with 35%? All that said: People you need to get educated on what the City really has in assets Stocks Bonds Etc. that are NOT in the City Budget. You see, a Gov. Entity can claim to be in the red or black and that is based on and reported from the "Budget". However what most of the public doesn't know is that the complete picture is contained and available to any citizen willing to bird dog it, a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report or CAFR. For example 90% + of the stock market is owned by Gov entities. You also add in infrastructure and assets... None of these are in the budget. YOu'll ONLY hear about he "budget" on the TV news or in most print and/or online sources. Why? Because it's a big party. Bureaucrats have conventions where they bring their individual CAFRs and play bragging games. From small Twps. to mega Cities... Example: When Mayor Koch was mayor of NYC he was crying 'Bankrupt!' but in fact, at that very time NYC had over a Trillion dollars in their CAFR report that was and is not mentioned. Wonder about California today? What about Ann Arbor? Maybe they cashed all that in??? Doubt it. CAFRs used to be A2 phone book size for major cities and got cut in half (apprx.) after minimal reporting going back to 2000. The ball is in your Court A2... & to Patricia Lesko... Tell the actual truth ugly or not. More on CAFRs from one of the nations leading experts Walter Burien: www.cafr1.com/
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 4:55 p.m.
What's even more troubling is the kool-aide being served from the fountain of folly... except there's nothing cool, and there is little aid... (self) served by the incumbents; ) Go challengers! There are many that will vote for you!
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 4:16 p.m.
@ Libby Hunter The point of the story is not that Ms. Lesko had a bad interaction with people at the door in Ryan's presence. The point of Ryan's article is that the claims that MS. Lesko made were incorrect and false. Even though you may have witnessed many pleasant interactions going door to door, that still does not justify the false claims and accusations that were presented to the residents. In fact that makes the situation more troubling. People may be believing her lies. That is just not right.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 3:46 p.m.
Thank you annarbor.com for writing this much needed article. I have watched this person get an absolute free ride from the press while she spouts off. I have lived in the city for a long time. I understand that the City is facing difficult decisions as is the entire state. I usually admire persons who run for office. However, in areas I am familiar with, many of her statements show a complete lack of understanding of the issues. Someone told me she had actually had a political blog and so I read it. It is filled with mean-spirited discourse and obviously false statements. Some amount of dignity is useful for the public to see. (Perhaps, it would also be helpful for her to serve on a City committee first to gain basic experience and basic knowledge.) I was also most disappointed to read that other candidates running in the primary evidently voluntarily associated themselves with her. Did they not meet her or read her blog? My questions for these candidates are the following (and all readers know these candidates will be reading the comments to this article): "Do you support all of the statements and assertions made by Pat Lesko in her political blog?" "Is the tone of her blog one that you intend to carry over into City government if elected as a councilmember." "In the interest of political transparency, would you please post on your campaign website all emails sent from Pat Lesko or her campaign to you or your campaign and any sent back to her?" Ms. Armentrout is certainly right to cringe at Ms. Lesko's style. This is a great City! I'm proud of it. We should strive to be even better. But, the reason Pat Lesko causes Ms. Armentrout to cringe is exactly why Ms. Lesko should not be elected to anything, much less Mayor.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 2:37 p.m.
Well, Fraser got a what 22% increase when the Firefighters took a 4% decrease cause things are so bad and they can't afford to pay people. They did decide to layoff 4 firefighters. It is budgeted. They did it. As far as I know no one is retiring. Not a single person has put in their retirement paperwork let alone 4 or 5. She says they spend one amount on overhead, Crawford claims its another amount but not that much. IF we saved 1% we would have a surplus, 664 million is close enough to 1 billion when talking in generalities... Doesn't sounds like anything to crazy or far fetched to me...
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 2:31 p.m.
Well, there's certainly no exaggeration when it comes to holes in Hieftje logic and performance... There are holes next to the library, in the Stadium Bridge, in the roads, next to city hall (expansion), next to city hall (folly fountain), for free U of M parking garages on parkland, on Washington Street, in lower town, in the city budget, in the city FOI process, in the city replacement reserve logic, in the city retirement logic, in city code enforcement and process improvement logic, in the city's "sue us to make us comply with the law" logic... (Must remember to breathe)... All of those holes are filled, or will soon be filled with taxpayer dollars. (Hefty holes of Hieftje hyperbole, Robin... crash, bash, boom, pow). Big fat giant spending = big fat giant taxes for you and me... no exaggeration! Did anyone note that 25% of recent a2 residential real estate transactions are foreclosure related? Yup, a2 is really surviving the downturn well!
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 2:17 p.m.
Ryan, are you planning an equally unflattering article about the mayor? Will you fact-check his claims as carefully? How about you address some of the compelling posts by Lesko on her blog, specifically about the sizable budget of the IT dept, the water and sewer dept, etc.? How about the wasteful single stream recycling? I appreciate you keeping her honest. I just hope you start to do the same with the mayor and council.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 1:49 p.m.
No one will get my vote while running for City office while claiming the endorsement of a City union.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 1:47 p.m.
Great article. I'm particularly interested in Ms. Lesko's response, since the numbers seem to speak for themselves. Given that she calls her errors simple "mistakes," I think it's fair to characterize her messages as "false." Political theater is political theater, but comparing your competition to Satan (even with a pen name) is not the behavior of someone who is legitimately interested in serving the public.
Anonymous Due to Bigotry
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 1:46 p.m.
Hey, well the ends justify the means right?? I mean if you have such a righteously morally superior agenda (as long as you think so, because we all know morality is relative) then lying is a small cost for such a great benefit.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 12:44 p.m.
I had a brief exchange with Ms. Lesko a couple of years ago when she was running in the 1st Ward, and she was hostile and over the top nasty to me. Of course, she knew I live and vote in Ypsilanti -- surprise surprise. I haven't seen anyone bring up the point that many or most police officers and FF do not live in the city or even in the county, for what that's worth.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 12:39 p.m.
You don't have to read past the article's title to see where this is going.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 12:29 p.m.
Does anyone else remember Pat Lesko's role in managing the campaign of the guy who wouldn't do a live interview? (My memory is fuzzy on who and what office, but it was in the last year.) That small fiasco made a real impression on me because she came across as so raging/irrational/hostile and defensive about it, though it seemed such an obvious and stupid mistake on behalf of that candidate. Her current blog is a fun and snarky read and she's certainly great at popping everyone else's ego but she strikes me as a fairly volatile person if anyone finds fault with what she does. If she had any real power and was put in the center of any issue involving true controversy? Yikes... I can't imagine what would that look like and how unpleasant it would be for groups trying work with her and reach compromises/agreement.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 12:27 p.m.
Actually I think the current majority on City Council has done a great job of stewardship over the most fiscally challenging decade since the great depression. Compare Ann Arbor to other Michigan cities, all under the same financial stress and you find A2 is head and shoulders above them. This is true even with 40% of the land non-taxable, a huge park system, a lower millage than 10 years ago and the loss of 5% of tax income from Pfizer leaving. No mystery on the budget either, Council Member Margie Teall announced the amendments that would close the budget gap and save the jobs of Police and Fire Fighters a full two weeks before the budget meeting.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 11:45 a.m.
While the mayor and current council are far from great stewards, replacing him with someone who cannot even compute Roger Fraser's salary increases or chooses to lie about them (which is worse, I'm not sure) would be foolhardy. It's good that someone is questioning the current regime's policies but she is not going about it the right way and does not appear to have any real credentials to do the job. Thankfully, if she is elected, I live in Pittsfield Twp now so I will not have to directly suffer the consequences.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.
Did A2DotCom get ad revenue from Hieftje for this completely unflattering and negative attack news piece on Ms. Lesko? He couldn't appear as more of the "good guy" wronged by her if he did in fact place the article as an ad for his campaign. Personally, I live in Ypsi and can't vote in A2, but I hope she wins just to shake the very complacent and self-satisfied administration now in place in that town.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 11:21 a.m.
After reading this story I am disappointed in the union members supporting Ms. Lesko. I come from a union family and defend unions every chance I get but, when they are supporting someone who is out right lying it makes them look like self indulgent fools.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 11:20 a.m.
She is a Democrat! playing fast and loose with is SOP. The only questions is: who will lie more her or the Mayor?
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 10:50 a.m.
The big difference is that Hieftje seems willing to cover up and dance in the ring while spouting the same tired talking points while the challenger, Lesko is willing to take the fight to the mayor, attacking on all fronts and bringing up issues that voters want the candidates to talk about. Will we continue to hear the long serving mayor hide behind his party line acolytes spouting the same half dozen talking points or will we hear his in depth discussion of the important and relevant issues raised by Lesko? I tend to think that Hieftje will refrain from mixing it up with Lesko. He seems to think that if he remains "mayoral" and above the fray, instead of actually speaking in depth on the issues that we all want to hear, he'll win the primary in August. From Hieftje's lips, I'd like to hear his explanation of his flip flop on the new city hall, (Police and Courts) addition. The one that he was first "secretly" against, then changed his mind and voted for under political threat from the Greden led bunch on council. The one that the city doesn't have the money budgeted to finish and that increased our long term debt for new construction of dubious need. You may not agree with what Pat Lesko is saying, but at least she's willing to go beyond the same old political blather that some incumbents seem comfortable hiding behind. This election should be about debating the difficult issues as opposed to politician happy talk about Ann Arbor being on someone's top ten list.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 10:43 a.m.
It's significant to me that governmental activities expenses have gone up this much in three years. They even went up more than $18 million in FY 2009 alone, when everyone knew the City was in serious trouble. Why the big increase? Ask the incumbent.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 10:05 a.m.
Agreeing with Susan Montgomery - Deception, "playing loose with the facts" (and a history of doing so), pandering to popular causes (firefighters, police), etc. is disgusting. I'm sick of it with "tea party politics," and the general "sound bite" approach to campaigning that seduces people emotionally at the expense of honesty, integrity, and statespersonship. I'm not thrilled with Mr. Heiftje but I know a fraud when I see one. No thank you to Pat Lesko.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 10:03 a.m.
@David Cahill Overhead expenses are "operating expenses" which are not governmental activities expenses. Definition of overhead: The ongoing administrative expenses of a business which cannot be attributed to any specific business activity, but are still necessary for the business to function. Examples include rent, utilities, and insurance If you are correct David and this is the number Lesko is using she is either completely clueless in regards to the city financing or once again, she is purposely and intentionally deceiving the public. Cjenkins speaks to the issue of using different definitions. Well this is another good example. Everyone understands the word overhead as referring to operating expenses and Lesko wants you to believe that operating expenses have increased when in actuality she took the number from another category? Huh?? I dont buy it Cahill. Not legitimate in my mind.
Ryan J. Stanton
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 9:51 a.m.
@annarbor I wrote a story last month on the police officers union's endorsement of her campaign. Click here to read the story. You are correct, it is just the main police officers union and not the COAM or AFSCME bargaining units.
Ryan J. Stanton
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 9:45 a.m.
@David Cahill Thanks for the math, but actually that's not the math Ms. Lesko used to try to explain her rationale for the 35 percent increase claim. She cited CAFR statements that showed total city expenses rose from $144.5 million to $184.8 million from 2006 to 2009, which works out to a 22 percent increase (and, yes, for the sake of clarity, that is a deviation from the 2005 to 2009 comparison she had been making). City officials argue it's inaccurate to consider the total expenses "overhead costs," but that's open to one's own definition of overhead.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 9:30 a.m.
@Ryan, just for clarification, there are several unions that represent the police department. I know members from each, and I am positive that it's the patrol officers (POAM) union that supports Pat Lesko. Can you confirm that the command officers (COAM), clerical supervisors (AFSCME), or the non-union members support Pat Lesko for Mayor? It's a very segmented department and I wouldn't want readers to assume that everyone in the police department is on-board with Pat Lesko, when indeed they are not.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 9:28 a.m.
NICE JOB RYAN!!!!
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 9:10 a.m.
Let's see if we can get literally "on the same page" with regard to the City's "overhead" expenses. I saw an extensive table on a2politico.com some months ago with the claim of 35% increase in overhead. I tracked down the source to the City's series of Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs). These are available online. Standard accounting rules require the City to divide its expense reporting into two categories. One is "governmental activities", including public safety and community and economic development. The other is "business-type activities", largely supported by fees, such as water, sewer, and parking. I am pretty sure that what Lesko calls "overhead" is what the CAFR calls "governmental activities expenses". If we look at page 128 of the CAFR for FY 2009 - the latest available - here is what is shown for the "governmental activities" expenses for the fiscal years listed below: Fiscal Year Govtal. Activities Expenses 2006 96,870,412 2007 97,548,949 2008 111,655,492 2009 130,177,876 The increase in these expenses from Fiscal Year 2006 through Fiscal Year 2009 is (130,177,876 - 96,870,412)/96,870,412 = 34.4%. Close enough.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 9:09 a.m.
@ Brian Kuehn I disagree with you on a small point, adding vacation and other benefits should not be added to the calculation when being explained to the general public in a political campaign. Many people have that option of converting vacation time to cash, but they don't consider that amount when stating what their salary is. When asked what their salary is people respond with what is printed on their paycheck (their take home pay before taxes) not salary plus the costs of what all their extended benefits might add up to be. Most people don't have a clue what their own benefits cost. Eventhough you said her claim of 35% is still not justified when adding in benefits and salary, it is still not justified in any way to use this definition when informing the public who use a different defintion. I find it disingenuous for Lesko and Sidney to continuously tell the public that someone is getting a huge raise when that is reflective of benefit amounts not of salary earned. While that may be legitimate by accounting standards and legitimate in contract discussions, since the general public does not think that way it should not be presented that way to them. It intentionally and purposely relays the wrong perception to the public. Most residents would be shocked to learn how much they earn on paper using Karen Sidneys method. Apples to oranges....apples to oranges...
My A2 cents
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 8:49 a.m.
Thank you for publishing this important story. I don't know why Ann Arbor voters would consider supporting a mayoral candidate who does not have any city governance experience.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 8:44 a.m.
Dangerous woman. Thanks for this article, which validates what some of us unfortunately have known for years about Ms. Lesko. She is not the sort of person I want to represent Ann Arbor. I hope others see through her facade as well. While I don't agree with many of the decisions made by Mayor Hieftje and absolutely would consider voting for another candidate, Ms. Lesko is not it. She has time and again proved herself to be completely untrustworthy and willing to say anything to further her own personal agenda at the expense of the truth. I am sorry the firefighters and police unions are so (justifiably) frustrated at the city's budgetary state of affairs that they are willing to put the city's best interests aside and back her.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 8:43 a.m.
If you have to bring in the big guns (post-9/11) hero firefighters to help bolster a woman who likes to fudge facts and disseminate half truths, well, this voter isn't buying it. I'm sure all candidates for mayor support a vigorous and effective fire department.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 8:31 a.m.
Karen Sidney correctly points out that the award of extra vacation with the option to convert 80 hours (2 weeks) to cash should be part of the calculation in Mr. Fraser's compensation discussion. However, converting 80 hours amounts to 4 percent. Adding that to the original computation still leaves the increase far short of 35 percent. Which takes us back to the original premise that Ms. Lesko plays fast and loose with her accusations.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 8:14 a.m.
A few facts about Michigan cities in the worst financial crisis since the 1930's: Grand Rapids, Troy, Royal Oak, Ferndale, etc., have had or will have tax increases on the ballot or if the increase failed, they are laying off large numbers of employees, often including Police Officers and Fire Fighters. Some cities are laying off 1/4 to 1/3 of staff. Grand Rapids passed a big tax increase but will be making layoffs anyway. Pools closing. A few facts about A2 city government. A2 is subject to the same cuts in state revenue sharing as other cities but the millage has not gone up, the millage is lower now than it was 10 years ago. Th loss of Pfizer meant the city lost 5% of property tax revenue. NO police officers or FF have ever been laid off. As this article states, if a few FF take retirement, then no lay offs again. No cuts in human services funding. Reserve funds have remained healthy. According to the police and fire chiefs at this years budget meeting, as reported by A2.com. - no reduction in service. High quality of life maintained, city recently named "4th most livable city" by Forbes, this comes on top of many other awards in recent years.
A Pretty Ann Arbor
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 8:09 a.m.
Really the bridge hasn't fallen (yet) - it rates a 2 out of 100 - I am surprised that it is still up and standing. Seriously why hasn't the current administration done more to fix it. We spend money on foolish things but a bridge that is used heavily daily is ignored. It isn't a matter of if it will fall - at this point it is a matter of when and who will be on it or under it.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 8:07 a.m.
A politician playing loose with the truth? What ever is the world coming to? I'm shocked, shocked to find that fibbing is going on in here!
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:57 a.m.
annarbor.com's description of Fraser's pay increases fails to include all the increases in compensation that he has received. One example is the increase in vacation time that he can covert to a cash payment. A freedom of information request for Fraser's employment contract and amendments show that he now receives 6 weeks of paid vacation after only 8 years of service. This is an increase of 3 weeks from the initial contract. When he was awarded the additional vacation time he was guaranteed the option to annually convert 80 hours to a cash payment. Last year he was allowed a one-time option to convert 150 hours of vacation to a cash payment.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:54 a.m.
There are definitely no yard signs in the neighborhood where Pat lives. Those of us who know her have been shaking our heads for months. It is about time that her ability to blatantly lie to suit herself came to light. Now wait until you see her after she starts to get caught in some of her lies--vicious is a word that is often used. I am so disappointed in the fire fighters for supporting her campaign. And to those of you who have talked to her for all of 10 minutes and put yard signs up--please reconsider. She got your support by lying to you. Please don't allow her to do that.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:50 a.m.
First and foremost I would like to say....Nice Job, Ryan Stanton!! I appreciate you pointing out what you witnessed for all to see. Second, I would like to strongly support cjeckins statement that If she lies about these things to voters in the presence of a reporter, she cannot be trusted to ever tell the truth. This is a VERY important statement. Think about it. If she lies in front of the press, what does she say when they are not around. If the press, the place where most residents get their information regarding city issues, is not valued and respected as a communication device to inform residents then what would be used by Lesko? A blog? HAHAHA! A blog similar to her anonymous blog in which she attacks elected officials as "Nazis"....a blog that is a hallmark of the Tea Party nastiness that is dominating politics. LOL There are many more stories out there about how Lesko has lied and caused turmoil in virtually every group in which she's been affiliated. These stories are above and beyond anything that the public can imagine without actually knowing Ms. Lesko or having seen her in action. My hope is that annarbor.com would explore that too.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:48 a.m.
There is a corner of Miller and Dexter, but it's not in Ann Arbor, and that picture's not it.
Ryan J. Stanton
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:31 a.m.
@oldgaffer It's actually rare for the headline of an article online to be exactly the same as it appears in print. Not only are they written by different people, they're written to fill different spaces. Also, there always are SEO considerations taken into account with online headlines, so the articles can be found by someone searching for them on Google or Yahoo, for instance.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:26 a.m.
If you want the real truth, drive around her neighborhood. No yard signs in sight.
Anon E Muss
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:22 a.m.
The tinfoil hat, Tea Party has come to Ann Arbor. Imagine what she says when she's not shadowed by the press?
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:19 a.m.
@aaresident: Is lying considered a "style" of politics around here? I think not.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:18 a.m.
Why does the online edition of annarbor.com use a different headline for this story than the print edition? The paper this morning trumpets PLAYING FAST AND LOOSE WITH FACTS over this lead story. I'm curious Ryan as to why they are different.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:14 a.m.
Whether you like Pat Lesko's style or not, her candidacy serves to raise issues and stimulate debate about the state of Ann Arbor's government. I think many of us wonder if the city government represents the needs and wishes of a majority of Ann Arbor voters.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:13 a.m.
Lesko has some serious problems with the facts. This is not Dearborn; A2 folks are not going to be bullied by some Kwame-like schmoozer. Hieftje has been an effective Mayor, while not perfect, over the last several years. Likening him to Satan? What kind of person is Lesko? Come on, what a bombastic and mean-spirited thing to do. It is offensive on so many levels. (sigh)...it will be interesting to see what other hateful tactics she tries to employ during her so-called campaign.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:12 a.m.
This is a remarkable article, and I'm certainly glad that AnnArbor.Com has run it. I don't know at what point hyperbole becomes lying, but I think Lesko has crossed that line. She's not getting my vote. Like Ms. Armentrout, I certainly do hope that AnnArbor.Com does a similar article for each of the other candidates.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7:10 a.m.
Ryan- thanks for willing to point out that Ms Lesko is a person who is willing to prevaricate at every opportunity. I am actually very disappointed to see the A2 Firefighters and Police Unions supporting Ms Lesko's campaign, when they know full well that she is just using them to advance her own ambitions
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 7 a.m.
BTW, the billboard is at Maple and Dexter.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 6:52 a.m.
Lesko will stop at nothing to try and win the election. She gets caught in lie after lie and just brushes it off and then tries another in your face tactic. Her strategy, which appears to have worked on the PD/FF unions, is to lie, directly to people while looking them in the eye. Her boldness while doing this is what can manipulate people such as the firefighters into supporting her, Lesko has learned that the more outrageous the lie the more people get suckered in and believe you. It is human nature to ask yourself, How could all her claims be false there must be truth somewhere? Ryan, nonetheless has pointed out rather well that her claims have no truth to them. She knows that the average voter does not have the time or the means to check up on her so she invents stories at whim. If she lies about these things to voters in the presence of a reporter, she cannot be trusted to ever tell the truth. However, that is exactly what she is banking her entire campaign on, half-truths and lies and is the master of delusion. Her introduction to most in the city was through the guise of an anonymous blogger who made up facts and figures at whim. She even lies about her profession. A small business owner working out of her basement does not a CEO make. How can anyone trust Lesko who has a history and a current reputation of purposely lying to voters? Is Ms. Lesko truly delusional or just the best con artist around who uses slander, made up facts and half-truths to manipulate the public? We have seen Sara Palin do it for years now and Lesko reminds me of her. However, more than being Sarah Palin like, Lesko is much more like Kwame Kilpatrick. They are both bold face liars who know how to fake sincerity to people (each has a small following) and when they re caught lying and confronted they turn arrogant and defensive and attack harder with more lies and accusations. Ann Arbor do you really want Ann Arbor to be run by a Sara Palin-like or Kwame like mayor?
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 6:44 a.m.
This is a remarkable article. Is it about Pat Lesko's campaign or a fact-check on statements she has made? Will we see an equivalent article about John Hieftje's campaign for re-election and a fact-check on claims that he makes? And the headline was overkill. What is a "false" statement, vs. an inaccurate one? To my mind, a "false" statement would be one that is completely unsupported by facts, while an inaccurate one makes a point that itself may have validity, but the numbers and reach of the statement are challengeable. My personal assessment is that Pat is using hyperbole to point out real problems. For example, while Stadium Bridge hasn't fallen down, I believe that some debris has been actually been shed, two lanes have been closed and the bridge is acknowledged by most to be many years past its lifetime. What did the visiting expert say - that it was a 1 on a scale of 100? (I myself haven't used the bridge for months.) As for the layoffs of police and fire, the proposed budget did in fact include layoffs of 20 each, right? Only the last-minute and very peculiar aid package airlifted from the DDA kept this from happening. Wasn't there something awfully convenient about that last-minute save? It wasn't a real budget fix. I'll admit that I have often cringed at Pat's style, especially on the blog. But if you are going to publish an article in which her verbal statements (especially if these were in conversation during a campaign stop) are criticized point by point, I hope that you intend to extend this approach to other candidates.
Ryan J. Stanton
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 6:37 a.m.
@DDOT1962 Thanks for pointing that out. Jack Eaton sent me a photo of the billboard and said it was at the corner of Miller and Dexter. I'll try to get to the bottom of it this morning.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 6:13 a.m.
There is no corner of Miller and Dexter for a Patricia Lesko billboard to be standing. Those two streets run parallel, unless Ms. Lesko can bend concrete thoroughfares the way she bends the truth...
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 6:06 a.m.
Why would anyone vote for a person who makes up facts to suit her needs? How disappointing that the firefighters union is supporting her... While I am not at all thrilled with Mr. Hieftje and would eagerly vote for a suitable alternative, Ms. Lesko is not it...
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 5:37 a.m.
Just another politico without facts and deceptions.
Sun, May 30, 2010 : 5:33 a.m.
One wonders if the quality of candidates running for mayor this time will affect the number of people who go to the polls?