A N N   A R B O R   I S   O V E R R A T E D . (a blog.)

November 2003
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Ann Arbor News
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2003-11-04 - 1:48 p.m.

We were one of two people at our polling place this afternoon (we voted for Rick Lax). Where's this Proposal B record turnout?

Oh, yes, and if you haven't - VOTE!

Also, the Daily says that Rob Haug opposes Proposal B. He does?

:: 8 comments so far

2003-11-03 - 2:38 a.m.

Finally, some confirmation that crime in A2 is unusually high. Despite the fact that the U of M has about 5,000 fewer students than Michigan State, campus police here received more robbery and burglary reports in 2002 than campus police at MSU - 13 and 150, respectively, compared to MSU's 7 and 136. This even though MSU's campus is about 1.5 times as big as the U of M's, has more students living in dorms (where burglaries reported to campus police are likely to happen) and isn't situated in lovely posh Annarbour.

:: 27 comments so far

2003-11-03 - 12:56 a.m.

The Daily gets it exactly wrong on both ballot proposals.

They concede that two of Proposal A's provisions - dropping the requirement that city officials have lived in their wards for a year and allowing candidates to have registered to vote outside of A2 - would "greatly benefit students running for an office such as city council." The ward requirement, they point out, is especially invidious because students tend to move from ward to ward. And it's exacerbated by the fact that the Central Campus area is conveniently split across wards. But they still urge a vote against it, because of the third, which allows officials to live outside the city. The Daily doesn't argue that outsiders are less qualified to run city government, although that's a reasonable concern. Instead, they're just worried that "the proposal encourages officials to commute from the suburbs, escalating urban sprawl and a host of problems that come with it." We're sure there's a sizable demographic that would love to move to a happening place like Pittsfield or Saline but holds back for fear of sabotaging an Ann Arbor political career. Nevertheless, we endorse Proposal A.

On Proposal B, they parrot the "vote yes and then maybe do something about affordable housing" line that we find just incomprehensible - we've heard it so often from proponents that we have to conclude that this isn't a well-thought-out piece of legislation.

:: 7 comments so far

2003-11-02 - 1:01 p.m.

The Ann Arbor News takes a hard-hitting look at the new health premiums for faculty and staff. They talked to a nurse practitioner who felt that the new system is "a necessary evil," a professor who describes the plan as carried out in "as fair a way as they can" and another professor who worries that it may unfairly increase the "burden on young families." Other sources quoted in the story include a media engineer at the School of Dentistry, a School of Public Health coordinator and the executive editor of Michigan's alumni magazine.

No graduate students were quoted or acknowledged to exist in the story.

Also, two more robberies of student-age residents of Ann Arbor, one on South U. at 6:15 in the afternoon. What is it about 6:15 p.m. and violent crime in this city?

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2003-10-31 - 1:36 p.m.

Check out Goodspeed's comprehensive survey on what the city council candidates who bothered to answer think about a variety of issues. Independent Jon Kinsey's answers are especially interesting - he characterizes students as "typically myopic" and says that they're "adequately represented in city government," but we suppose he deserves some credit for answering the questionnaire.

A letter in the News quotes a sign at the new Barnes and Noble: "Caf Tables Are Reserved for Caf Customers Only. Students & Extended-Length Customers Are Welcome to Enjoy Caf Purchases in Our Study Area on the Second Floor. Thank You for Your Cooperation."

:: 5 comments so far

2003-10-30 - 6:01 p.m.

Noisy parties? Students walking while intoxicated? Sexual assaults on State Street at 6 in the afternoon? That's small potatoes compared to the subject of the AAPD's latest crackdown: trick-or-treaters out past 8. The A2 police chief has officially pronounced trick-or-treating time to be between 5 and 8 p.m.

In other news, the new year will roll around in Ann Arbor at 11:30 a.m. on January 1. The AAPD recommends celebrating with a light brunch of goat cheese quiche and mimosas.

:: 8 comments so far

2003-10-30 - 1:15 p.m.

A diligent reader sends along the definitive word, or at least several non-definitive words, on the naming of A2:

[H]e approached the arbor where Mrs. Rumsey was sitting and, lifting his hat, remarked with a smile, 'My! What a restful place you have here; what do you call it?' Mrs. Rumsey resplied, 'This is Ann's Arbor; don't you think that is a good name for the place?' John Allen agreed that it was a good name for not only that particular spot but for the whole place he and Mr. Rumsey had lately surveyed.

And "Annarbour" even has an explanation:

Russell Bidlack explains in his latest book:

"While map-maker Judd spelled the name 'Annarbour,' and Governor Cass wrote it as two words, John Sheldon inserted a hyphen between Ann and Arbour. The Governor's choice became standard, except for the gradual acceptance of Noah Webster's 'American' spelling of arbor, i.e., arbor, although neither John nor Ann ever made the change."

Hmmm. Ann-Arbour Is Overrated?

:: 5 comments so far

2003-10-29 - 11:09 p.m.

Recently, we were visited around 11 p.m. on a weekend night by two students who wanted to know if we'd called a noise complaint on them. We hadn't even noticed any noise on the block that night. We told them about the Old Fourth Ward's organized teams of informants and sent them on their way.

There is another house on our block that's caused real noise problems more than once, though. And we've come to the conclusion that calling the police on them would be a bad idea. Since the AAPD have gone on record as endorsing a "no-warnings" policy, we don't think it's fair to slap anyone with what could be a several-hundred-dollar fine - not including whatever alcohol charges they want to throw in - for having a party. As the Old Fourth Ward flyers put it, "Large fines are imposed...If our peace is disturbed, the police encourage us to call them at 994-2911. They want to help us enjoy a peaceful life in the OFW."

We've had the police called on a party of ours in another city a while ago. And they told us to get off the porch (a third-story contraption that probably wasn't even built to support that many people) and turn down the music, reasonably enough. That's not what happens here.

:: 5 comments so far

2003-10-29 - 1:36 p.m.

Use this map to find out what ward you're in, then this candidate list to find out where the candidates in your area stand on the issues (well, actually just the greenbelt issue.) And this site will tell you where your polling place is when you vote on Tuesday.

A number of urban planning professors have been weighing in on the greenbelt issue in the News' "Other Voices" section. But this column, entitled "Smart growth is key; hold Greenbelt's supporters to their word", may be the most interesting. Essentially, they endorse voting for the greenbelt, then after it passes, making sure that "it serve as one component of a larger smart growth effort that addresses issues like regional coordination, infill development, and affordable housing in a meaningful way." Why should we expect anything like this to happen? Well, "proponents have essentially made the promise." Oh, well, why didn't you say so?

:: 13 comments so far

2003-10-28 - 1:38 p.m.

We've heard from two readers that "Annarbour" is the original spelling of A2, from the 1800s. Also, the signs seem to be multiplying at an alarming rate - another reader says he's seen one around Huron and Ashley.

The mayor is looking for two U of M students for a "cool cities" panel.

:: 4 comments so far

2003-10-22 - 7:26 p.m.

Can anyone explain the new road sign on Main just south of Packard that reads, and we quote, "Annarbour"?


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2003-10-22 - 1:36 a.m.

There have been 226 entries in this weblog so far, but this one may top them all.

The Ann Arbor City Council is considering a resolution under which non-residents (read: students and other undesirables) would pay for the use of emergency services, $85 per 20 minutes a fire truck is outside their house. This rule, the city administrator says, is intended to apply to medical emergencies - the example given is of a non-resident falling down the stairs of an Ann Arbor house. Of course, that would never happen, since Ann Arbor houses that non-residents tend to spend a lot of time in are always safe and well-maintained, but the city estimates that this law could make $17,000 to $50,000 a year for A2.

Many students are unaware that they can change their driver's licenses to contain their current addresses. By doing this, you would not only be considered a resident under such a law, but you can also help vote out anyone who supports it.

On that note, the Old Fourth Ward's newsletter mentions a Candidate Night on October 30th from 7-9 p.m. in the Media Center of Community High. See you there.

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2003-10-21 - 1:42 p.m.

Goodspeed usually has it covered on this front, but today was truly a banner day for student ghetto break-ins. Seven - count 'em - seven break-ins, for a grand total of $11,645.

Also, the News has finally put Talk About Town back online. We look forward to much happy blogging.

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2003-10-19 - 6:56 p.m.

Ann Arbor is Overrated has obtained a copy of the Old Fourth Ward Association's newsletter. The newsletter, which focuses mainly on the warmth and neighborliness of the Old Fourth Ward, provides four ways to turn in your neighbors: [email protected] for trash violations, [email protected] for "lawn and weed violations," [email protected] for snow violations and 994-2911 for noise and "quality of life" violations.

Other activities of the Association involve: combating "unsightly flyers" by passing out flyers, selling calendars and - most interesting of all - forming Neighbor Peace and Quiet Teams (NPAQTS), which "enable neighbors to support one another by simultaneously calling in complaints related to any violations of the city Noise Ordinance." Depending on whether or not the simultaneous callers can actually hear the supposed noise violations, this is very close to encouraging people to file false police reports. A column about the party patrol - written by someone from "Ann Arbor Neighborhood Crimewatch" - is disarmingly honest, calling the initiative a "preemptive action that attempts to educate violators and would-be violators about our local laws and their importance to the quality of life in Ann Arbor." (Emphasis ours.)

The calendar sale, which funds the Association, benefited from the support of several local businesses, which they recognize. We would like to recognize them here as well:

  • Borders
  • The Treasure Mart
  • Argiero's
  • Northside Grill
  • Zingerman's
  • Museum on Main
  • Angelo's
  • Shaman Drum
  • People's Food Co-op

We think it's especially interesting that Zingerman's, the Shaman Drum and the Co-op, which depend heavily on student business, support this organization. Perhaps they aren't aware of all of its activities. Perhaps someone should tell them.

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2003-10-16 - 2:52 p.m.

For the first time, grad students are going to be paying premiums on their GradCare health insurance - an estimated $569 in 2006 for a student with no dependents. We encourage everyone affected by this to go to their departmental GEO meetings. Why hasn't the Daily run anything on this yet?

:: 0 comments so far

2003-10-16 - 3:01 a.m.

Turns out that the "student ghetto" (defined here as Greenwood Avenue) isn't so bad after all. Why not? Well, the city now gives 24-hour warnings to houses where "the trash situation" is "out of hand," as determined by anonymous callers. And furthermore, students are more "respectful" to the "several young families" who live there. Really, what else could students ask for?

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2003-10-15 - 12:50 p.m.

The writer of The Ann Arbor News' "Connection" recipes column reads this blog and decided to engage in a little self-parody this week. That's the only explanation for the top recipe, "Bread Pudding Like Old Country Buffet." The recipe is an improvement on an earlier one that didn't quite succeed in capturing the Old Country Buffet flavor. Further down, you'll find a reader's request for "an 'oldie' recipe for a salad using raw uncooked sauerkraut."

Also, the Daily has a story about how, "despite tensions," the police think they have a good relationship with students. How can they say that with the controversy over the party patrol, you wonder? Well, the officers they interviewed were from DPS, not the AAPD - throughout the article, the distinction between the two groups is mentioned only when a student who says she was treated roughly by officers wasn't sure whether they were campus or city police. Most of the other students complaining about police tactics seem to be referring to the AAPD. What could have been a very interesting story, an opportunity to explore the attitudes Ann Arbor police have toward students, instead becomes a frustrating muddle.

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2003-10-12 - 10:44 p.m.

An Ann Arbor News reader is unhappy with the News' U of M party scene "expose" we linked to a while ago. "In my view, the problem behavior as described in the story is glorified by front page photography and text and makes it seem the 'cool' thing to do." We have to admit that we never considered the possibility that the story, which portrayed college students as beer-swilling, disruptive lawbreakers right at the time when the tactics of the party patrol were being held up to some scrutiny, could have the effect of making drinking seem "cool" to the middle-aged "All Things Considered" listeners that make up the News' audience. But maybe it's time the party patrol started keeping an eye on the Whole Foods wine section. You know, just in case.

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2003-10-10 - 12:36 p.m.

"Why isn't Ann Arbor the mecca of hip it might seem to be?" asks the News in another "cool cities" article. Among the reasons they give: Detroit's "image problems" and cold weather. That is, nothing that A2 has any control over.

Also, we're waiting eagerly to see if a retired professor sick of waking up to band practice at 7 a.m. on Saturdays gets the same consideration as the "neighbors" of Leopold Brothers. After all, the News is under the impression that "most Ann Arborites" are asleep by 10 on Friday nights.

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2003-10-08 - 2:24 p.m.

Yet another article on the tired theme of "pampered" university students, this time in The New York Times. Apparently, a lot of colleges are building student centers and other facilities with aquariums and other fancy extras. "Whatever the students want is pretty much what they're getting," a spokesman for something called the National Association of College Auxiliary Services says. (The idea that prospective faculty may also be enticed by such amenities gets part of a sentence.)

Somehow, the U of M is not mentioned anywhere in this piece, even though it does have a "food court," considered an extravagant frill by the Times writer.

Also, the Daily has a terrific editorial on the "unacceptable" A2 housing situation. Right now is the time to be looking for housing for next year, unless you think you've got housing for next year and your landlord rents the place out from under you in April. Not getting thrown out on the street is a frill that we should ask for, because whatever students want, they get.

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2003-10-07 - 8:57 p.m.

"I can't image [sic] why a student would bring a car, and where they would put it," says Diane Brown, a U of M facilities and operations spokeswoman in a recent News article.

We at Ann Arbor is Overrated possess a good imagination, and by letting it run free, we can offer a few reasons why students might bring cars to campus:

They want to eat. On a campus where living in dorms is severely stigmatized for undergrads and unheard of for grad students, and the nearest grocery store is two miles away, cars provide a means to get food.

They want to go somewhere after 9 pm. This is the latest that city buses run, although the University provides some late-night transportation.

They don't want to be the victims of random attacks while walking alone. Although this didn't work for that cab driver.

Astronomical rents force them to live outside of Ann Arbor. Living as far out as Brighton isn't unheard of.

Where to put the cars requires more imagination than even we're capable of. But it's a little alarming that a University spokesperson could be so out of touch with the student experience.

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2003-10-07 - 1:24 p.m.

A Johanna Hanink column from yesterday's Daily ties together two current stories: the University's efforts at recruiting female faculty and the University's efforts at discouraging female students from drinking by telling them that they'll never have a "meaningful relationship" and they'll get vomit all over their pretty clothes. But how about this confluence: the "party patrol" tickets students, male and female, for drinking and noise violations. The University's anti-alcohol posters imply that being "taken advantage of" is at least partially the fault of a female student who drinks. Two women are assaulted walking home late on weekend nights, the most recent attack taking place over by the Law Quad. Is it fair to connect the dots here? Well, the AAPD, responsible for the party patrol, and the University group responsible for the anti-drinking announcements have nothing to do with each other. And there's no hard evidence that the AAPD's alcohol enforcement efforts detract from their ability to catch real criminals. But it's an interesting juxtaposition, at the very least.

The Law Quad attack wasn't even the only violent incident recently in which the victim doesn't remember what happened. A 15-year-old boy woke up in a downtown parking structure with a bump on his head and a missing wallet the day after the Law Quad incident.

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2003-10-06 - 10:25 p.m.

Craigslist carries an open letter to the "Nicolls [sic] Arboretum Bearded Masturbator." A subsequent post, titled "It may be small, but i like to see my own" sounds like it should be on the same theme, but instead it's the disturbed ramblings of someone who posted two fake "Missed Connections" in order to increase the number of posts on our admittedly pathetic local Craigslist. "Checking the detroit postings and seeing my two brand new entries excited me beyond regular contentment." Now that's sick.

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2003-10-05 - 5:00 p.m.

"Somebody call the OED: is our beloved A^2 becoming a byword for yuppified pseudo-urban landscapes?" writes a sharp-eyed reader. The evidence: A Gary Shteyngart article in The New York Times Magazine about New York as "the city of stories." In it, Shteyngart laments what he sees as a city "under siege by prosperity," overtaken by "homogenization." "Entire communities from Hoboken to Long Island City," he writes, "change into local Ann Arbors and Chapel Hills." Ouch.

Shteyngart's fears may in fact be a little overblown. The new New York he deplores is a place where "You aren't afraid of being attacked on Avenue C at 4 in the morning." But if Ann Arborization is what he fears, he needn't worry about an overabundance of safety. Among A2 crimes this week we haven't blogged about are two fast food robberies - one of them a McDonald's held at gunpoint while police patrolled outside, oblivious - and a taxi driver reporting being pulled from his cab and beaten near the medical school.

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2003-10-01 - 2:27 p.m.

We're mystified by the fascination that Bill Knapp's seems to hold for readers of The Ann Arbor News "Connection." Every week, someone seems to write in asking for a Bill Knapp's recipe. The meme is so pervasive that in this week's column (headlined "Great salmon patty recipe hooks reader") a reader seeks a recipe for Bill Knapp's "Chicken Tortilla or Tortellini soup" that turns out not even to be from Bill Knapp's.

And can anyone tell us why a newspaper in a town where you can't even get parking at Whole Foods gets so many requests for recipes that involve graham crackers or dry soup mix?

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