Ann Arbor Police chief says he was 'ashamed' of conditions police officers endured inside city hall
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
In addition to concerns about high radon levels, Jones said other circumstances police officers endured in their former basement and first floor offices in city hall were unacceptable.
"You hear their stories about how the water was running down on them — and you've got to remember now, there's complaints about asbestos, too — and you've got the water coming down on them, and it stunk like maybe it was sewer water," he said. "It was just bad."
Numerous tests conducted in the basement of city hall over the years showed radon levels far above amounts considered acceptable by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The police officers union also has cited concerns with mold and asbestos, which were present, and believes the mix of those elements may have contributed to health problems experienced by several officers, including two who died of cancer in the last two years.
The Ann Arbor Police Department and its 124 sworn officers now work out of the new police-courts building adjacent to city hall, a complex officially known as the Ann Arbor Justice Center. The city built it at a cost of nearly $50 million and the project is just now wrapping up.
"There were a lot of police officers who retired and have come forward and said, 'Man, this is our building and we never got it. We never thought this was going to happen,'" Jones said.
Even though they have a new building, Ann Arbor police officers will continue to use the city hall basement, said Bob Cariano, the city's safety manager.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
"We will not have any employees currently assigned to the basement as a whole," he said. "The only thing they'll be down there for will be training sessions. We've got three training rooms that are down there and, in most cases, that'll be in less than a four-hour window at any time."
Cariano said officers should only have to be in the basement locker rooms for a half-hour prior to the start of their shift and then at the end of their shift.
John Elkins, president of the police officers union, said the union isn't taking any chances. It's going to request testing of the space before it occupies it.
"We're going to want to know with some certainty that it's safe," he said, adding radon and asbestos remain a concern because of the loss of two officers, Vada Murray and Jason Zogaib, to cancer. "You think about it a lot because of Jason and Vada and some of the others who have passed away shortly after retirement with similar illness."
Kurt Hudgins, president of Ann Arbor-based Protech Environmental Services, does radon testing and mitigation work all over Washtenaw County and Southeast Michigan. His company conducted tests in city hall in March 2009 and informed city officials that remedial action was needed to address radon levels that ranged from 15.6 to 21.7 picocuries per liter of air.
The EPA action level is 4 pCi/L.
Protech has been working with the city on installation of the new radon mitigation system in the basement with the goal of reducing the high levels.
"We're actually still working with the city on the issue," Hudgins said. "It's been a long, ongoing process with the remodel, so we're in and out of there. We're still not complete."
Cariano said the city cut open the basement floor and trenched down to put in the new system to extract radon from the ground. A system of four-inch PVC pipe with several openings draws the gas through a powerful pump system and then spits it out away from the building.
"We've done some preliminary testing and our numbers are well below the threshold limit of 4, and once we get the building closed up again, we'll bring the contractor back in again and do final testing," Cariano said, adding that'll probably happen in the next 45 days. "We've still got the basement under renovation so we're not using it at this point."
Cariano said the previous mitigation system was designed to draw radon gas from under the basement floor, but it was not working properly, and the city didn't fully realize that until it started construction.
Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas formed by the breakdown of uranium. It is tasteless, colorless and odorless, and is found in soil and rocks.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
"The recommendation is to do a minimum three-month testing out of the year," Cariano said. "And we'll be doing that probably starting mid-December through March every year just to monitor our levels and make sure they don't start to creep back up for some unknown reason."
There is no basement in the new police-courts building. And with a modern heating and cooling system in place, city officials don't expect radon to be an issue there.
Jones, who became police chief in 2006, said he couldn't believe there was opposition in the community to the police-courts building project when he came to Ann Arbor.
"I get here and there's an active group of very vocal citizens who were talking about the cops didn't need a building," he said. "And I came from the outside where I looked at this building and I smelled this building, and I'm like, 'Are you people kidding me?'
"You couldn't walk down the steps without water you believe is sewer water dripping on you or slipping on it, and you walk into the bathrooms and they stunk so bad."
Jones said female officers were treated like they were an afterthought in the old building because there were no female officers when it was designed in the 1960s.
Radon Special Report
- Washtenaw County is a natural radon hotspot, and local experts suggest testing your home to be safe
- Video testimony: Vada Murray believed radon, asbestos at Ann Arbor city hall caused his fatal lung cancer
- Radon and asbestos concerns in Ann Arbor city hall left police employees 'petrified about their health'
- High radon levels persisted in basement where Ann Arbor police officers worked, records show
"So they built spaces for them that were in closets," he said. "And I mean, it was unbelievable. And then you could have citizens come in contact with child molesters and pedophiles and people who committed rape because there was no appropriate space for them."
Jones said he was appalled that the city was subjecting police officers and citizens to those kinds of conditions.
He recalled a time he was coming out of the bathroom when he saw a young woman and her two children sitting on a bench next to a man who was a convicted sex offender.
"I remember walking past them and I went, 'That ain't right.' And I went back and said, 'Can I help you?'" Jones recalled. "Everybody was at lunch, and she said, 'I'm here to get fingerprinted for a job.' And he looks at me, 'I'm here to register.' So I have a man here sitting on a bench with a woman with two kids, and he was a sexual predator. So I took the lady and her two kids upstairs with me because that was not right, and that happened every day."
The holding rooms were another story, Jones said.
"We had the old-style hook in the floor for handcuffing people," he said. "I mean, come on. You don't have that in Ann Arbor. You don't have that in a progressive, professional, intelligent community. But they were subjecting members of the police department, citizens of the community, and even bad guys we arrested, to those type of conditions. I told people then I had never seen conditions like that. I was ashamed. I was ashamed."
Jones said high radon readings in late 2008 were the last straw, and he started lobbying to move his employees out of the basement. The eventual move-out started in February 2009.
"I didn't want to take a chance," Jones said. "As a chief, my people come first. They had fear. I needed my people not to have a fear."
Other top city officials don't disagree conditions were bad. And in fact, that's one of the reasons cited for moving forward with construction of the new building.
A police department employee who preferred to remain anonymous told AnnArbor.com there were dozens of buckets and trays in the ceiling above where police worked to catch rain that leaked through a promenade into the first floor of city hall.
Murray, who died of lung cancer on April 6 after two decades as a police officer in Ann Arbor, mentioned those same buckets in a video testimony before his death. He believed the issues with radon and asbestos in city hall caused his fatal health problems.
"Water leaked into the first floor on a continual basis," the employee wrote in an e-mail. "This was evident by the discolored ceiling tiles on the first floor. The hidden secret was that approximately 50 containers (most five gallon buckets) were placed in the ceiling to catch the rain. The containers were never emptied or cleaned."
Added the employee: "The containers just sat there with water, mold or dry depending on the weather. On particularly rainy days, full five-gallon buckets would crash through the tiles."
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's e-mail newsletters.
Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 10:10 p.m.
There is absolutely no excuse for these kinds of conditions to be left unrepaired as they were happening. Why were leaks, mold, and excessively high radon levels allowed to continue after they were discovered? Would anyone allow these in a home? No. They should have been addressed and fixed when they happened, not allowed to continue for years until they were an "embarrassment" to anyone. This is irresponsible facilities planning and services.
Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 10:33 p.m.
"There is absolutely no excuse for these kinds of conditions to be left unrepaired as they were happening." And yet, things like this do happen. The conditions did continue after they were discovered and known to many people -- city council members, mayors, police chiefs. How do you account for that?
Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 12:25 p.m.
"Yeah, ashamed is real nice, too bad you didn't DO anything Police Chief Barnett Jones." The conditions in the basement of the City Hall as described here sound pretty horrid. Everyone wants to know: how could this happen? In this case, "everyone" will not include many people who have or have had actual decision-making responsibility. They already know that in a world of limited resources, judgments must be made. The choices are never no-brainers. Decisions are always subject to many, many constraints that are painfully in play at the time but unrecoverable in retrospect. I'll wager that were EXACTLY the same circumstances to return, the same choices would be made, even by those who are now eager to condemn the people who were trying to do the best they could with what they had.
Sat, Apr 23, 2011 : 12:18 a.m.
To his credit he did do something. Moved the detectives out of the basement and was able to get a new building...Barnett did a good job!
Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.
"Would you buy a car or a house without first having it inspected?" No, but I might buy it even if the inspection revealed problems. It depends on a lot of things.
Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.
@ Will Warner, what are you saying exactly? Because I re-read your post twice and it sounds like nothing? Would you buy a car or a house without first having it inspected?
Ryan J. Stanton
Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 2:43 a.m.
Just to be clear, when I said in my previous comment that no one from the union ever approached me to write a story about this issue, I was responding to a commenter who seemed to suggest that the union came to me and I turned them away. That simply didn't happen, and that's all I meant to clarify. My comment was not meant to mean that I never investigated this stuff because the union didn't come to me with it. The fact is several factors lined up that made it very timely to go back several years and look into this issue. First, the union last month issued a written statement, in the context of ongoing city labor negotiations, saying it was not willing to concede on health care because of radon and asbestos problems in the space where police previously worked. I began my investigation and FOIA'd records from the city going back several years. It just so happened the city was wrapping up its police-courts building project. And then Vada Murray tragically passed away this month, and we found out about his worker's comp case in which he testified he believed the radon and asbestos issues may have caused his lung cancer. So, it seemed more appropriate than ever to look into all of this and tell this story now. I do agree it was underreported in the past.
Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.
"I do agree it was underreported in the past." Ryan, thanks for being honest. You can do everyone a service an verify what the city administration tells you prior to posting it. Maybe the unions will begin to trust you and not give you the standard "no comment" for fear that you will spin the story.
Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 3:31 a.m.
Ryan... thanks for the explanation and thanks for the work that you're doing.
Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 12:58 a.m.
If we had fewer cops they could have fit into a smaller space somewhere else
Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 12:38 a.m.
Ryan, don't you think this is worth investigating? This is the only one I've seen documentation on: <a href="http://a2docs.org/doc/291/view/359/" rel='nofollow'>http://a2docs.org/doc/291/view/359/</a>
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 8:18 p.m.
Yeah, ashamed is real nice, too bad you didn't DO anything Police Chief Barnett Jones.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 7:30 p.m.
I think they've actually had THREE floods in the basement!
Ryan J. Stanton
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 8:37 p.m.
This is the only one I've seen documentation on: <a href="http://a2docs.org/doc/291/view/359/" rel='nofollow'>http://a2docs.org/doc/291/view/359/</a>
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 7:18 p.m.
Wow, apparently the mayor is a former realtor. If realtors don't know about these types of issues, who would? It is just shameful that this went on for so long. How can people live with themselves when they look the other way while others are exposed to these kinds of dangers?
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 6:02 p.m.
P.S. Ryan...ask Mr. Cariano about the two floods that have happened in the NEWLY renovated basement and what they have done to assure that it won't be another source of problems. i.e. tearing out drywall so it can't become a harvesting area for mold. Instead employees have been told that" it would dry out.....the City intends to drill holes in the drywall later to prove it...." This is the kind of leadership your tax dollars are paying for folks....
Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 1:16 a.m.
Ryan....that is because they operate in seclusion and only let out a small amount of info. . . if pressed. There was MORE than one flood and it will cause a mold problem. As I said earlier - there is a treasure trove of info if you start digging. Toxins leaking into a tributary of Mallets Creek at 701 N Main (old City Garage)...AFSME had to file a grievance and threaten an injunction to get asbestos abated in the 7th floor mechanical room of City Hall. It was falling on them like snow when they worked in there. Or... FOIA injured officer reports that occurred INSIDE City Hall between 2009-10. Meanwhile Bob Cariano, Sue McCormick and Matt Kulhanek sat in their cozy offices across the street at the City Center Building.
Ryan J. Stanton
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 8:41 p.m.
This is the only one I've seen documentation on: <a href="http://a2docs.org/doc/291/view/359/" rel='nofollow'>http://a2docs.org/doc/291/view/359/</a>
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.
There are a lot of opinions here and a lot of blaming - but the bottom line is that the Heiftje/Fraser combination has been an oppressive hostile regime. City department managers have had no authority to speak, act or otherwise challenge this political machine. If they did...they would simply be axed and made the example for anyone else who dared to color outside the lines. This political machine also dictated what and how information was disseminated to the media. It is too bad that AnnArbor.com took them for their word... There is a gold mine out there for the media now - so they should be out there digging before the next City Administrator is appointed.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 6:13 p.m.
It isn't so much the Fraser Heiftje regime, as it was the McCormick "dodge" and the cronies she put around here, yet the captain of the ship must account for the first mates decisions!
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 4:50 p.m.
Why hasn't A2.com tracked down the former police chiefs to corroborate?
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 3:33 p.m.
The PD location problem could have been solved years ago if the mayor and administrator didn't insist on locating everything at one location on Huron and Fifth. For, example we had empty fire stations that could have been cheaply remodeled into a mini-station. Alternatively, we could have bought the City Center building or rented clean safe space. Instead, the PD employees were left in a basement to help sell the idea that we must have a new building and no other solution is possible.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.
@ Patricia Lesko Chief Jones is not at fault here; he was not around for most of the time that this was happening; this has been going on for over 10 years. However, you, your supporters and this active anti-police/courts group are much at fault IMO. You campaigned against the necessity for the new building. You accused the mayor or being strong armed into voting for the project. You screamed constantly about conspiracy and corruption related to this issue even after you saw the conditions of the original building. You kept pushing for delay after delay. Council and the Mayor stood up and did what was unpopular in the best interest of the city and the police. That took courage. Council was upfront about the conditions that city hall faced, but was called corrupt and liars by you, your supporters and other local activist groups who where against police and giving them a new building. The building was needed, truly was not that expensive (the newly proposed library is supposed to cost 2x as much as this one) and is completely covered financially ( I am not going to go into that here) Any police layoffs have NOTHING to do with the cost of the new building. Please stop spreading misinformation it just reeks of sour grapes. How the police ever thought you were on their side is beyond me.
Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 1:01 a.m.
i would rather have leaf pick up and Christmas tree pick up and timely snow plowing in place of a new city hall.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 9:53 p.m.
not everything is about sour grapes. win or lose, people may still feel passionately about issues that matter to them. agree or disagree with her statements, but i don't believe it's about sour grapes. when politicians in national elections lose, they might complain afterwards, but i don't say it's sour grapes... they are just as passionate about the country, but with different opinions. lesko's opinion should be heard, even if one disagrees, because she's probably just passionate about ann arbor and her voice should be heard along with everyone else. i don't necessarily argee nor disagree with all she says, but i have respect for what she says, and i have respect for what the mayor says.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 4:06 p.m.
You are a great defender of the city administration. I hope it is appreciated.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.
@Cash no it does not end the discussion of timing because you miss the point. The police or the police union may have notified staff and/or council about their complaints (which is why staff and council have been pushing for 10 years for a new building), but they never told the PUBLIC. Council and staff repeatedly told the public, but where called liars by a group of citizens that the police union supported. ????? I do not think the police should have sent out a press release or something like that, but I would have expected them to STAND UP at council while the issue was being challenged and criticized for being unnecessary. The police had a duty to the public to set the record straight so that a solution could be implemented more timely. If the police would have stepped up and said how necessary the project was maybe the public would have not been as misled by this citizens group and the new police/courts building could have been built 10 years ago. IMO City Hall is an awful building throughout, and should be completely replaced.
Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 12:59 a.m.
Who are the group of citizens you refer to that the police union supported? Even with evidence to refute your earlier claims of timing, now you come up with other nonsense. You are making me tired and cranky. Stand up at council and tell them something they already knew. What good would that have done?
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 4:05 p.m.
"but they never told the PUBLIC. Council and staff repeatedly told the public, but where called liars by a group of citizens that the police union supported" Where in the world did you get that from?????????????????
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.
In 2008 and 2010 I toured the police facility and it was horribly unkept. However, for Mr. Jones to say he was ashamed, attempts to abrogate him from the responsibility he had to make sure his staff were not forced to work in dangerous (randon/asbestos) and simply filthy conditions. The walls needed paint, the furniture was battered. There were ceiling tiles that needed to be replaced and the roof leaked. One officer had a system to drain water from a roof leak into a bucket near her desk. Chief Jones has a budget and a voice. He could have demanded the facility be cleaned up and repaired. He could have asked the community for donations and put the Mayor and Council members to shame (then, of course, looked for a new job). Mr. Jones played ball with politicos and a City Administrator intent on building a new facility. Did we need 100,000 square feet? AnnArbor.com reported Roger Fraser recently suggested to Council that 50,000 square feet of it should be rented out to defray costs. We have a new space that we can't afford that is forcing cuts to police and fire. As for Ryan's hands-up excuse that no one came to him to ask him to write about the conditions in the old facility, that's why he's employed as a reporter. The community isn't supposed to hand him stories on a platter. He and AA.com were most certainly "around" when Officer King filed her whistle blower suit in July 2010. Lee Higgins did a piece about it that contained no follow up reporting on King's allegations, or interviews of chief Jones, elected officials or city staff. I met with Officer King, went through her meticulously compiled evidence, letters to her superiors, medical data, etc....She told me she had repeatedly tried to get both the Ann Arbor News and AnnArbor.com to cover the radon/asbestos story with no success. I believed her then, and I believe her now. I don't believe it was an oversight that AnnArbor.com neglected to cover this before the building was finished.
Ryan J. Stanton
Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 2:45 a.m.
Please see my comment below.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.
Back in July 2010, events would happen around the city and the news would concentrate on celebrities and the art fair. environmental matters were of minor matters for the news. Keep in mind that politics was playing a huge role at that time, as people were trying to get jobs in gov't as the next election would roll through. Those who had practiced good networking and had expansive networks/friends would make it through. As Snyder was from ann arbor, perhaps it was in the best interest of ann arbor, not to talk about bad stuff?
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.
<a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2009/02/radon_prompts_some_ann_arbor_p.html" rel='nofollow'>http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2009/02/radon_prompts_some_ann_arbor_p.html</a> This ends forever the question of TIMING of the workers complaints.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.
From your article it says.. "Police Chief Barnett Jones said he told employees Monday that temporary space will be found for anyone who feels uncomfortable staying in the basement while transition plans are formed. "This is still a very fluid situation, and we need to know a lot more, but we decided to err on the side of making sure we put people first and accommodate anyone who wanted to get out," Jones said. I would ask if this happened. Did anyone ask to leave and was told no?
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.
Bob Cariano and the other city administrators should move their offices down to the 'safe" basement now and let the police officers use their former offices for locker rooms and meetings!
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 1:13 p.m.
Ryan, Why are some names not showing up for the commentors?? @ (man with no name) I do not blame the police for the situation, I blame the police for standing by and allowing possible solutions from being implemented, delayed or proposed. I question the timing of this, I question the motives and I question whether this was really life or death issues for many of them. Yes, it was inconvenient, yes it was awful at times, but life or death?? I completely 100 % agree that the building was awful. HOWEVER, if things were/are truly that bad where one is "petrified", I would expect the police to be grateful that a new building was proposed and being pushed for by council. This was a highly contentious issue for many,many years. It was a major campaign issue for many running for council. Yet, they stood at the side lines. WHERE were they? To now solely blame council for this is reprehensible after they have been pushing a new building for over 10 years. When a citizens group is fighting to keep you in a situation that you find a life or death issue, I would hope that someone would speak up, not necessarily a union, but actual people.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.
more teamwork is necessary between the city and the university on environmental matters. The University of Michigan (OSEH) could teach City Hall on how to look at radon, the dangers and how to fix it. The City Police or State Police could teach the University of Michigan (OSEH / DPS) on how to successfully investigate illegal dumping in our river. both can provide expertise to areas that they may need more instruction/skills/equipment with.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 9:41 p.m.
Craig.... small spills might be rather common and hard to solve. But, large, uncommon spills, where the outfall is found, involve multiple agencies, run for hours, cover a river... like the one last year should be solve-able. The failure to solve it demonstrates a problem somewhere -- be it from lack of skill, equipment, public notification, cooperation with agencies, i don't know from what. But it indicates that whomever investigated it (OSEH/DPS)... they were unable to solve it, and as such that is a failed investigation -- and work needs to be done so that it doesn't happen again, and we find out why it wasn't solved. IFi it was a common small spill, then I know what a common small spill looks like and the Ann Arbor community really needs to wake up and realize what was/(is?) being dumped into our river.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 1:05 p.m.
"The City Police or State Police could teach the University of Michigan (OSEH / DPS) on how to successfully investigate illegal dumping in our river." How successful are the police in solving illegal dumping? I don't know. Anecdotally it seems to me like many of those cases go unsolved. But again I don't really know.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:52 p.m.
The whole situation is deplorable. City officials who stood by and did nothing should be ashamed. I would suggest the situation is not dissimilar to what employees of bars had to put up with for years and years until Michigan passed its smoking ban. The mantra of many in that situation was to suggest those folks find another job. Please note THAT IS NOT MY SUGGESTION HERE. I'm just pointing out there is a history of folks being forced to work in unsafe conditions that are easily mitigated.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:50 p.m.
Not only did the basement and 1st floor have multiple leaks and buckets, but so did the 6th floor. Same problems all around, the promenade deck leaked on the police and other staff working in these areas, and the roof over the 6th floor leaked on the Courts, Parks, Planning and Building over the years as well. Management was well aware of the buckets/containers in the ceilings, water on the floors and desks, and soaked ceiling tiles.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:48 p.m.
There needs to be many articles about these problems for the following reasons. 1) City government and leaders knew about radon, asbestos, mold, and sewage problems in the basement for many years. 2) City government and leaders did not remedy the problems. 3) The city knowingly, willfully, and continually subjected employees to deplorable and unsafe conditions. 4) The city knowingly, willfully, and continually subjected the public to the same deplorable and unsafe conditions. Our city government publicly minimizes services of public safety, as it continually removes service providers in its annual budget process. It is crystal clear that the city has disdained our public safety providers for decades. Today, it is openly hostile. In the past, the hostility was literally hidden in the basement and closets of city hall. I am highly embarrassed at the decades-long treatment of the police department at city hall by our city officials. As a citizen, I apologize to the police department for subjecting them to such pitiful circumstances. I apologize to them for the folly they have endured while protecting us. The Dreiseitl folly fountain seems to take greater significance with each day that passes. To many, it has been a symbol of city government fiscal irresponsibility. Now, the folly fountain also represents irresponsibility towards employee and citizens well being. It is clear that the health and welfare of citizens receive little priority in the ongoing projects and agendas of our city leaders. This is painfully true, not only now, but for decades.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:47 p.m.
looks like the Univ. of Michigan housing was quite pro-active with radon... <a href="http://www.housing.umich.edu/environmental-health/radon" rel='nofollow'>http://www.housing.umich.edu/environmental-health/radon</a> "Over the last several years, comprehensive radon testing has been conducted at 551 sites within Housing buildings. Approximately 20 sites required remediation. That remediation, involving the installation of ventilation fans, has been completed. Follow-up testing is regularly conducted where remediation was performed. New sites will be tested and acted upon accordingly."
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.
Hard to believe that there wasn't a building in Ann Arbor that could be rented to house these folks who worked in the basement. The health of the employees should have been the first immediate concern. If not for humanitarian reasons, lawsuits to follow will prove this to be true.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.
tiredncranky, You want to blame the police, disaptchers etc (in other words the WORKERS) for this problem...it doesn't fly. Be angry at the police officers, dispatchers etc for the fact that the city was aware of this health issue (as reported in the Ann Arbor News and Ann Arbor.com) and left them in that basement. The rest of us know who is repsonsible for this tragedy. And it's not the workers.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:22 p.m.
The sad conditions of the facility where the Ann Arbor Police Department was housed has been an ongoing issue for years. City government (mayors, council, city employees...) BEGGED for a new City Hall. But voters didn't want our taxes going toward a new building. Every time the discussion of constructing a new facility was brought up the naysayers came out to complain. Let's admit it people... we, the voters, are just as much at fault . We must learn to support and trust the good efforts of our elected representatives. Of course it's ok to "question authority," but not at the expense of someone's health or the overall safety of our city.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.
Right sure. There was no building in Ann Arbor to rent for an emergency.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:16 p.m.
How many articles is this now on this subject A2.com ? Enough already, move on ! Good Day
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:12 p.m.
@( man with no name) Actually I disagree that this was reported from the police officers viewpoint until now and I lay that at the feet of the police officers. The contention over this building has gone on for at least 10 years. I have heard a lot from the city, from council and from this vocal citizens group. However, the police, whether it was the union or even individual officers have said nothing or very little. The problem I have with this is that if you were "petrified" or "felt your life was in danger" as other articles have said, they would have stepped up and said something when 10 years of discussion was going on. I would have expected them to speak in front of council or even campaign door to door or something!! But they backed the candidates for council who were against giving them better working conditions. Honestly I don't get it. This makes me extremely angry at the police right now because I was one who was 100% supporting this project when there was this so called citizen opposition to the project. This did delay the project IMO and almost defeated it. I wish that the police would have supported the council when this was discussed throughout the public but they didn't "openly" support it. Why people vote against or support activities that go against their best interest is beyond me.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 11:48 a.m.
From February, 2010 article in Ann arbor.com: City officials note the police department is located in a part of city hall originally designed for storage space and is badly deteriorating. Oftentimes after it rains, the ceiling leaks, and EMPLOYEES HAVE REPORTED air quality issues and black mold. "We needed to do it," Fraser said of the new building. "And it's one of those investments that - it doesn't matter when you ultimately decide to do it - there's going to be good and bad. But ultimately, 10 years or 15 years from now, the community is going to look back at this and say, 'Thank God we got this done.'" <a href="http://www.annarbor.com/news/ann-arbors-new-police-courts-building-taking-shape-under-budget/">http://www.annarbor.com/news/ann-arbors-new-police-courts-building-taking-shape-under-budget/</a> Hmmm...no union to blame here. This WAS reported earlier.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 11:44 a.m.
this is deplorable.maybe Fraser didn't bother telling the Mayor and Council or maybe they Didn't "WANT"to know. if this is so typical politicians
Ryan J. Stanton
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 11:43 a.m.
Keep in mind, AnnArbor.com did not exist years ago. We launched in July 2009, so we've only been around a year and nine months, and a lot of the issues discussed here and in other recent stories predate our existence. I can't speak about what the old Ann Arbor News did or didn't cover when this stuff was happening. But I can tell you no one from the union ever approached me at AnnArbor.com to write any story about this issue, and I'm the city hall reporter. Given recent statements made by the union about radon and asbestos in the context of labor negotiations, and the fact that the new building has opened, it made sense and seemed timely to explore this issue now.
Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 12:46 a.m.
Ryan, I criticized you repeatedly and mentioned the Radon and Asbestos in my posts whenever you put out your one-sided employee propoganda laden employee benefits articles. I even mentioned the GZA report that a member of the police union allowed me to read. You are the reporter right? You should have picked up on this and maybe FOIA'd the report or asked the police union for it. The entire patrol division is moved from city hall to Pittsfield Twp and you needed the union to approach you?
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:46 p.m.
Very interesting, Ryan....thanks!
Ryan J. Stanton
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.
@Cash — This is the story Steve referenced. It's the only story on radon I could find in the archives when I looked last week. <a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2009/02/radon_prompts_some_ann_arbor_p.html" rel='nofollow'>http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2009/02/radon_prompts_some_ann_arbor_p.html</a>
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:17 p.m.
@Cash, our internal archive system is not accessible to the public, but the Ann Arbor District Library is in the process of digitizing all the photos and articles from the archives of The News. I am not sure how far along the library is with that project, though.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:13 p.m.
Steve, thank you for that information!!! Is Ann Arbor News archive data available online?
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:02 p.m.
The Ann Arbor News did, in fact, report about the radon in city hall, including a banner headline story on page 1 on Feb. 12, 2009: "Radon found at city hall; Hazardous levels lead some staffers to move." It included a photograph of a detective moving his files from the basement.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 11:49 a.m.
Ryan, in searching here it seems the issue WAS reported earlier ...and that is a fact reported in an article here 14 months ago. That was not, I'm guessing, during labor negotiation time.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 11:27 a.m.
It was posted here last week that the police officers had come to Ann Arbor News/dot com years ago and nothing was reported. I am curious why this is being reported now. Two things have changed: Vada is dead. Fraser is leaving.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.
Bingo. Fraser leaving.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:16 p.m.
(talking to self) I did find an article regarding the officers complaints in archives....from 14 months ago, and I stand corrected. Mr Pepples reports that it was also reported in Ann Arbor News even earlier. (see below reply)
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 11:25 a.m.
Missing from all these articles is the fact until recently, the police department's dispatch center, detective bureau, and many other offices were located in the basement where these employees worked 8-12 hours a day, 5 or more days a week in these deplorable conditions. The uniformed officers may have had to use the locker room down there, but these employees were forced to work their entire shifts, day after day, with no means of escaping the tainted air. Many of them spent their entire career working in this basement where their concerns about the exposure to radon, asbestos, mold, etc were dismissed for years. If the story is going to finally be told, let's make sure that these forgotten employees and what they endured get more than a passing mention.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 7:09 p.m.
I am so sorry for them having to endure this. This highlights the need for unions for public employees of all kinds so that these things don't drag on for years.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 11:31 a.m.
TMazur, Excellent point. These folks must be so worried. Sad.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 11:17 a.m.
This is the type of article that should have been done while the discussion about the police courts building was happening. But no, all we got was articles about the vocal citizens group that was anti-police and anti-council. That citizens group was very wrong then and still is now. Many in the citizens group actually DID know about how bad the inside of the building was but did not care ( one if the active members is actually married to a councilmemebr!!). Others just protested for their entertainment IMO. @awakened I heard repeatedly in the press, at debates and at local forums from council and the Mayor about why we needed a new building for the police and yes a radon, asbestos filled basement was one of the reasons cited. However, councilmembers were constantly called liars by this vocal citizens group. Many in the public were swayed for many years by this group to the detriment of the city and actually still are swayed at times. The public always assumes that the loudest, most malicious voice is the most reputable voice. I sure hope this now shows people whose actions have the best interest of the city at heart and that it is not that citizens group. I have said this in many other posts and will say it again here. The police should have spoken up years ago when some in the public were fighting this. They did not. They never took a strong stance on the issue, which is very puzzling to me. Why on earth now are you raising hell over this and claiming that you have been upset for twenty years? Why now after the fix is in place? Five years ago would have been much more beneficial to all of us. Could the reason be contract negotiations?? hhmmm.... For the record I am very happy that the building has finally been built and have always supported the project.
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 11:51 a.m.
From 14 months ago...Ann Arbor.com "City officials note the police department is located in a part of city hall originally designed for storage space and is badly deteriorating. Oftentimes after it rains, the ceiling leaks, and EMPLOYEES HAVE REPORTED air quality issues and black mold."
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 10:47 a.m.
I wish this could have been reported when it was happening. If the conditions were one of the reasons for the new police/courts building how is it that the mayor/adminstrator did not know?