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Dharma's Newsletter, January 6th, 2024

Neighbors,

 

City Council meets on Thursday, January 11th (moved to avoid conflict with UM's national championship game). Before I get to a preview of our brief agenda, here are some updates.


Unarmed Response

On December 27th, the City of Ann Arbor announced that it was cancelling the Request for Proposals (RFP) for Unarmed Response and would be reissuing a new one early in 2024. The RFP was issued in August 2023, yielding one proposal, from Care-Based Safety. From the press release, "A standard procurement review process, in which the CBS proposal was carefully reviewed in its entirety by multiple city staff members, determined significant issues with the single submission."


This is a very disappointing setback, and I understand why I'm hearing frustration from our community, too. We need and deserve alternative forms of safety for issues that are best resolved through unarmed public safety and health professionals. I remain fully committed, as does the City, to establish such a program.


I would like to address a few inaccuracies that I've heard from advocates and residents. First, City Council did not reject the RFP and this proposal. At no point was it under City Council consideration. Like all City RFPs, procurement and ultimately the City Administrator decides whether bids are responsive or not. When they decide a bid is responsive, it is then recommended to Council for approval, appearing on our meeting agenda. That is the point—in a public meeting--where Council makes a decision to approve or deny. In this case, the City Administrator decided that the only proposal the City received had shortcomings such that he could not bring it to Council for recommendation. No decision was made in closed session. Closed sessions are for staff to provide confidential legal analysis and advice. Council does not vote, nor make decisions, in closed session.


Despite this disappointing outcome, I'm hopeful that a new RFP will result in a safe and sustainable unarmed response program.


Ann Arbor Bicentennial Kickoff Celebration, January 19th, 2024

The Ann Arbor Bicentennial Committee invites you to join the City of Ann Arbor and Destination Ann Arbor in celebration of Ann Arbor's 200th anniversary with an evening of joy and community spirit, on January 19th, from 6-9pm at the Michigan Theater. The event will include hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, music, a silent auction, a special poem, and the unveiling of a bicentennial-inspired tile. 


Tickets to this event are $50/person with proceeds going to Ann Arbor’s Legacy Projects: Bicentennial Park and the James L. Crawford Elks Lodge. Learn more and purchase tickets: http://tinyurl.com/555knmew


Resident Participation Meeting for 20-acre Development at Eisenhower Parkway and S. State Street

On January 9th, from 6-7:30pm, Crawford Hoying and Oxford Companies are holding a resident participation meeting at 777 Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 150. Sitting in one of our rezoned TC1 areas, this is for a multiple-phase project across nearly 20 acres that is planned to consist of approximately 1,200 units of multi-family housing, 85,000sf of ground floor commercial, a hotel, public plazas, pocket parks, streetscape and infrastructure improvements, and three parking garages with a combined 2,300 spaces. Learn more: http://tinyurl.com/4es78j78 




 

City Council Meeting, Thursday, January 11th at 7pm

  • Meeting Agenda (note: at the time of this writing the agenda incorrectly says the meeting is January 8th instead of January 11th)

  • Responses to Councilmember Questions: there were no agenda questions received for this meeting.


Agenda Highlights

  • Stone School Sidewalk Special Assessment (CA-2 and CA-3). The City seeks to close an important gap in the City's sidewalk network and provide a continuous pedestrian connection along the east side of Stone School Road from Eisenhower to Packard. Normally, the cost is not assessed against property owners, because Ann Arbor has a separate New Sidewalk Millage. However, this excludes non-taxable parcels, and this segment of Stone School Road includes seven parcels within Pittsfield Township, thus creating the need for the special assessment district. CA-3 would set a public hearing for this assessment.

  • Resolution to Approve a Best Source Purchase Order to Runbeck Election Services, Inc(CA-14). The City Clerk is now constitutionally required to provide 9 days of early voting for each election, necessitating secure overnight storage for an increased number of early voting locations. This resolution requests the approval of a purchase order to Runbeck Election Services, Inc. for six vote hubs for use at the City’s new early voting locations, in the amount of $36,500.00

  • Resolution Denouncing Rising Hate and Discrimination in Ann Arbor and Calling for a Lasting Bilateral Ceasefire in Gaza and Israel (DC-1). Our last several Council meetings have seen public comment time almost entirely made up of people speaking about the Israel Hamas War, with many calling on Council to bring a ceasefire resolution to the table. While Ann Arbor is geographically distant from Gaza and Israel, the emotional and social impact of the conflict is palpable, and it is clearly having a profound impact on our local community. Many residents have friends, family, and loved ones suffering. The stories of trauma that Jewish, Arab, and Palestinian residents have shared are heart-wrenching. From a local perspective, it has been particularly upsetting to hear how people have felt intimidated and fearful in our own community and to see firsthand the way that we are demonizing our neighbors and not listening with empathy to each others' personal stories. Since I started receiving emails asking for a ceasefire resolution, I've been pretty consistent in my view that City Council does not and should not have a role in foreign matters. I've carefully listened to everyone, reaching out to understand various perspectives. As hundreds of people have packed our City Council meetings, I've spent a good deal of time thinking my way through the right path forward. While I still maintain that City Council needs to focus first and foremost on local issues that it has direct responsibility for and control over (e.g. local laws, zoning, building new sidewalks, funding election centers, etc.), it is difficult to deny that this has become a local issue. I see the resolution as it is written now--a call for ceasefire on all sides and a release of hostages--as being primarily a call to our Congressional delegation to use their influence to work for a real and lasting peace. As well, the resolution "expresses its unwavering support for all Arab, Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish, Muslim, and all other members of the community who are impacted, each of whom has the right to learn, work, worship, gather, advocate, mourn, and celebrate free from intimidation, harassment, doxxing, and fear of violence," and I hope this helps create a climate in which our community can heal and avoid turning their trauma and pain into conflict and hatred here. (Sponsors: Ghazi-Edwin, Briggs, Song, and Akmon)


Please reach out if you have questions, concerns, or thoughts on any of the agenda items. Email: DAkmon@A2gov.org | Phone/text: 734-492-5866

 

You can also communicate your thoughts via:

  • Email City Council: CityCouncil@a2gov.org

  • Comment at the meeting (remote or in person): Call the City Clerk's office at 734-794-6140 beginning at 8 a.m. on the day of the meeting to reserve a public speaking time. NOTE: you do not need to reserve time to speak during a "public hearing (PH)" item.


How Council Voted

The Ann Arbor Voting Charts Project is a community-maintained record of voting history for City Council. Check out the December 18th, 2023 Voting Chart.

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