Obligatory Ann Arbor Mayoral Endorsement

Obligatory Ann Arbor Mayoral Endorsement

Submitted by Brian on July 2nd, 2018 at 4:09 PM

tl;dr: vote for Christopher Taylor, who is good on many things, isn't really responsible for the road issues since he's in a state that's #46 in road spending, and isn't a ludicrous BANANA*.

Please, please, please vote in this election. Consider it a donation to the site. If you're not already registered in Ann Arbor you have until July 9th to do so. If you're a student consider voting absentee: the reason your rent is so damn high is largely because students turn out for local elections in dismal numbers. Even 20% turnout from students would decisively and permanently re-orient AA politics away from homeowner dominance.

This has been "Brian shouts into the void for a paragraph." Anyway.

*["Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone"]

CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR

Taylor's running for his second term after taking over for long-term mayor John Hieftje and is more or less a vote for Ann Arbor to continue in the same direction it's taken over the past 15 years. Development is generally encouraged in the downtown area and certain corridors around the city.

Taylor isn't ideal. Under his leadership the city spends some time and money on questionable activities, the foremost of which is a downright weird proposal to build a train station in Fuller Park*. That hypothetical station is near nothing except UM Hospital and would turn a big chunk of Ann Arbor parkland into a parking deck seemingly designed for the hospital, especially since the regional RTA millage and subsequent commuter rail from Detroit failed in 2016 and will not be on the ballot in 2018.

The city also spends a chunk of money on climate change when the only meaningful action cities can take is to reconfigure themselves so that people don't have to drive as much. The climate stuff is a subset of the usual strain of virtuous-seeming but ultimately silly policies that most small lefty cities undertake. (Your author was burned by that earlier this year when he went to Wolverine Brewing for the Loyola-Chicago Final Four game only to find out that the closed captioning, which the city mandated a couple years ago for all public TVs, was directly over the basket. Any deaf people also at Wolverine were no doubt equally livid.) Some recent public art that consists of metal stapled to a bridge seemingly at random is a particularly goofy expenditure.

And, yes, all of the rabbling about Ann Arbor's roads is a tiny bit justified because of those expenditures. However, those are dwarfed by already extant road spending, which is an eight-digit affair annually. Ann Arbor's road failures are largely a function of state spending. 82% of Michigan roads were rated poor or fair by the American Society of Civil Engineers; the state road system got a D-. Ann Arbor is at ~62%** and has a plan to get that down to 20% over the next eight years; they've been addressing the issue since 2014. The city just unanimously voted to add $4.3 million in road spending from cash reserves. There is no real difference in road policy between the anti and council parties, and no quick fix for cash-starved infrastructure.

Meanwhile, to live in a city in the midst of a housing crisis that is forcing out huge swathes of the next generation of Ann Arborites so that high net worth seniors in paid-off homes can avoid minor inconveniences in their lives means there is only one issue to vote on: development. And while Taylor has the odd habit of wondering just who is going to live in new apartments in a town with a 2% vacancy rate, he and his allies on council have continued to approve large buildings people can live in while Eaton and his allies vote against them.

Valid critiques of Taylor's approach come from the left and YIMBY territory. Ann Arbor's zoning is still highly restrictive, includes parking minimums, and has failed to chuck every student rental in an expanded downtown area. Baby steps are not sufficient to address the housing crisis, and that's largely what we've gotten. None of this matters because of his opponent.

*[I'm omitting the time and money spent putting together the "Treeline" plan for a 3-mile path through downtown since that passes unanimously when it comes up. For the record, I find the Treeline about as baffling as the train station. In both cases the city is hoping to get something for nothing, or close to it. The federal government will hypothetically pay 80% of the cost for a new train station and the city government isn't budgeting any money towards implementing the Treeline; they're hoping to get private donations.]

**[Those two articles don't use the same scales, unfortunately, so that is an estimate. 82% of Michigan roads score from 1 to 5 on the PASER rating scale. The Ann Arbor-specific article has a grouping for 1-3 and one from 4-6. I assumed a third of the roads in that category (28%) were rated 6.]

[After THE JUMP: A Person who is Not Recommended.]

Unverified Voracity Is Very Excited For A Questionable Reason

Unverified Voracity Is Very Excited For A Questionable Reason

Submitted by Brian on November 14th, 2017 at 12:58 PM


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EVEN THEIR HEADS ARE IDENTICALLY SHAPED

IT'S HAPPENING. Butch Jones! Got fired! Fairly obviously! And his replacement! Is!

KNOXVILLE — Brady Hoke is Tennessee’s interim head coach with two games remaining in the regular season after the school relieved Butch Jones of his duties this week.

YAIIIIIISSS. And his next game is against!

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CAJUN BRADY HOKE. Why does this make me so happy? I don't know! Will I be watching this game and rooting for Tennessee? Hell yes! Will this go very very badly and still delight me? Absolutely!

Seeds and tourneys. Soccer got the #13 overall seed in the 48-team NCAA tourney, which comes with a first round bye and a home game on Sunday at 5 against the winner of the Massachusetts/Colgate game.

Meanwhile, field hockey has made that sport's final four with a hamblasting of Northwestern.

The semifinal is Friday in Louisville against Maryland. I couldn't find any TV information, so... I guess it's not televised? If anyone knows otherwise let us know.

Coachfights! It's been testy in college hockey of late, with two-count-'em-two postgame blowups in what's historically been a very chummy coaching fraternity. The unspoken rule about not poaching recruits that Joe Tiller thought was a college football thing—thus giving the world "snake oil" as a college football term—has been more or less real in college hockey since I've followed things. That's breaking down. Denver just poached a top SCSU recruit, and this was the result:

Clear f-bombs! Exciting! But not PRESS CONFERENCE F-BOMBS!

"I guess my first comment is I want to make it loud and clear that what their coach did...was a fucking classless asshole."

That's Cornell(!) head coach Mike Schafer being pissed at Quinnipiac's Rand Pecknold—who sounds like the libertarian villain in a terrible screenplay by a Salon author—because Pecknold argued with a referee that a five-and-a-game boarding call was embellished. Which seems like a not-great reason to go off.

Baseball's recruiting is on the uptick. MGoFish has an extensive breakdown of Michigan's latest class, which is ranked #23 by Perfect Game and features pitcher Steven Hajjar:

Steven Hajjar, North Andover, MA (Central Catholic); @StevenHajjar

Hajjar is probably my favorite signee, and for a few reasons. Like mine, his last name is confusing to spell and probably gives people fits. He was committed to Maryland as recently as July and flipped to Michigan. He somehow has a GPA of 4.4 and got a 1330 on his SATs. And he is really freaking good at baseball. At the July Perfect Game National Showcase, his scouting report was a perfect 10/10, hitting as high as 93 on the gun as well as a slider that “was very consistent with plenty of depth and biting action” that can get up to 79 mph. His mechanics remind me of fellow Michigan pitcher Rich Hill, who had an excellent postseason for the Dodgers. Unconventional, but wicked offspeed pitches make hitters look foolish. Combine those mechanics with a 6′ 4″ frame and long arms and hitters will feel that the ball is being released from about 50 feet away. Good luck.

It is extremely difficult for northern schools to get all the good croots because of the ridiculous schedule they have to play; Michigan is the only team north of the Mason-Dixon line in the top 25. #38 Indiana, #42 Penn State, and #43 Maryland are Michigan's closest Big Ten competitors on Perfect Game.

Ann Arbor Urban Planning Moment. I generally like Ryan Stanton's work for MLive but I find the framing of this article to be horrendous:

Ann Arbor facing potential loss of hundreds of public parking spaces

The potential loss of those spaces is because the city's lease on two downtown surface parking lots is about to expire, and the owners of that property—First Martin, which is an advertiser FWIW—are likely to put in big D1-zoned buildings. Which was the veritable goal of a decade-long density-encouraging rezoning process. Large buildings have housing, retail, provide tax revenue, and reduce commuting to downtown offices. Surface parking lots... are there.

Incessant parking complaints from the local olds continue to baffle me. I've lived in Ann Arbor for 20 years and gone downtown several times a week at all hours and almost never even think about parking in a structure because whenever I drive up Division most of the spots are open—and that's if it's a relatively high-traffic night and I'm not aiming for something a bit closer. I do tend to avoid going downtown on Friday and Saturday nights but when I do the downside is I am parking in a structure with hundreds of open spots.

The structures get jammed during the day when work commuters arrive, which is only a problem for work commuters. Ann Arbor should ignore the concerns of people who must come downtown, because they will find alternatives like Park and Ride if forced, while keeping might come downtown people relatively happy. Which they should be unless they think parking three blocks away is a travesty.

Etc.: AFC Ann Arbor memberships available for 2018. Jim Hackett and Paul Tagliabue are speaking at the Ford School at 4 PM if you're interested in swim lanes and good coach hirin'. And Paul Tagliabue. Michigan signs five basketballists, talks about them. Hoover Street Rag on Maryland. Z/X Simpson emerging.

Ann Arbor City Council Endorsements: Part I

Ann Arbor City Council Endorsements: Part I

Submitted by Brian on July 26th, 2017 at 5:13 PM

WELCOME TO ANN ARBOR CITY POLITICS THUNDERDOME

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THIS, EXCEPT MORESO!

I quit playing video games so much this summer and I have definitely not improved my life by reading a bunch of MLive stuff. To my horror, it dawned on me that I was now a Person who had Opinions about Local Politics. The memorial service for my youth is scheduled for about five years ago.

I can think of no revenge better than trying to inflict this curse on others. I'll be less lonely during the next full moon if there are some dudes in "A More Perfect Union" T-shirts at the library as we have impassioned discussions about pedestrian safety. Also it's actually a very important time to get an opinion, city-wise.

But just in case here's a super super early jump.

[After THE JUMP: abandon all hope ye who enter here]