well, here goes nothing.

So... Who's gonna be Mayor of Ypsilanti?

Who Cares?

Ypsi citizens should, the rest of the world will sleep well regardless.

Many readers will know me from the Ypsilanti Courier, where I made pocket money as a correspondent for a while. The problem is that the pocket money wasn't enough to buy a decent dinner most weeks, and City Hall is a beat that requires a lot of time and effort if one is going to do it well.

I figured if I'm going to work for peanuts, I might as well work for nothing for a while and truly enjoy writing what I do. This way I am making a contribution to the good citizens of Ypsilanti without contributing to the coffers of corporations who don't know where Ypsilanti is, let alone care what goes on here.

So, Mayor anyone?

I will preface these comments by saying that these are the candidates as I know them. I know Steve better than I know Paul, and I know Steve and Paul better than I know Lois. I haven't dug deeply to find this stuff, so these are the candidates as I see them, with whatever cheap gossip is floating around about them as well. If any or all of them want to set up an interview, I'll be in that, and I'll be happy to publish my thoughts.

Steve Pierce.

Steve is seen as a Johnny-come-lately developer with a lot of good ideas but little track record for lofty accomplishments according to some. Mind you, he DID manage to negotiate a settlement with K-Mart for the old Kresge building, which made way for the loft apartments now occupying that site, and he has sat on as many committees as he can in the community in the time that he has been here. He is at more meetings more often than any other citizen I know (or at least he was when I was covering city hall) so there is no doubt that he has the time and the commitment for the job, and he knows everyone he is likely to be working with should he be called upon to serve as Mayor.

The question on many minds is "can he do it?" and that really remains to be seen. There are those who question his track record with business, rumors of bankruptcy and the like. To the detractors I'll say "put up or shut up." Show me some proof. To Steve I would say "If there is something folks need to know, you need to get it out in the open now."

While matters of personal integrity need to be addressed, it is the City Manager who MUST be a capable administrator, and Ed Koryzno is pretty good at his job by all accounts.

With Steve, what you see is what you get. He has a talent for detail and you can be sure he will interpret details to his advantage. This is not a bad thing, but its worth keeping in mind

Paul Schreiber

My experience of Paul is largely gleaned from the Parkview debacle. It is my estimation that the YHC did what they could to come to the party in that dispute. Paul did a good job representing the YHC position, but unfortunately lacked the clout to push it through. (Mind you, I think the only way to change the city’s decision was to change the mind of a couple of key council members, and I’m not sure anyone could have done that.)

I like Paul. There is no doubting his sincerity or his dedication. Whether he has the time to do the job is another question. While I realize I was never the top name on his in-box, most communication I received from him was very late at night. I was very impressed with Paul’s analysis on the income tax. I believe it is the best synthesis I have seen of the issue anywhere.

The only gossip I have heard about Paul related to a YHC closed session that was called improperly. This is something that should be addressed if it contains a thread of truth, however it is hardly a hanging offence. Its not an event that would sway my vote (not that I can vote in this or any other election), though I’d be watching his interpretation of the rules, and I’d make sure he was open.

Rev. Lois Richardson.

I’ve probably had more exposure to Lois than to the other two candidates, but I don’t know her well. I have watched her represent her constituency with tireless dedication. She has raised many issues in City Hall that have left the administration embarrassed.

If I have a criticism of Lois, it is that I haven’t seen her sway the opinion of City Hall on any key issues. I see her as vocal and tenacious, but not particularly persuasive.

Actually, in my brief stint as a journalist in City Hall, I can’t say that any of these candidates are particularly persuasive people. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe not.

Of all the members of council and the community that I have seen closely enough to comment, I’d put Trudy Swanson in the mayor’s seat in a heartbeat. She is passionate, persuasive, and believes in doing the right thing BECAUSE it’s the right thing. Its true, she didn’t win Parkview in the end either, but it wasn’t because she didn’t try.

Anyway, those are a few somewhat dated thoughts about the Mayoral race.

I’m glad that Mayor Farmer is not running again. She worked very hard to alter the city charter, and then administered that charter from its inception to the present day. Much of the great work that has been accomplished in this city has been facilitated by her generous contribution (along with that of many others). I feel, however, that she has given enough, and that her most recent term has seen her tired and overcommitted.

I would betray my own voice if I did not also acknowledge that there have been some monumental mistakes made by City Hall under her administration. Parkview and Water street being the two that spring to mind immediately. I am not surprised at the number of folks who have abandoned ship from the heads (and tails) of city departments of late.

The impression left on me by City Hall was one of lip-service to the people with final deference to the “experts”. I hope this will change, for the experts have been sadly lacking in anything resembling expertise to date.

On one hand a good job has been done, on the other a mess has been made. The citizens of Ypsi city will have to cop it sweet and mop up the mess made by the experts, but they do have a better charter to work with and a cleaner city council than they had before.

The new Mayor will have quite a job on his or her hands. Lets hope he or she is up to the task.


Steve Pierce, Ypsilanti, Michigan USA said...

Rodney, glad to see you back. Great first post, I am looking forward to reading more. Cheers! - Steve

Misti said...

Hey, Rod! Great top see you writing again!!!

You forgot to mention your biggest reason at the time for leaving the Courier -- when an editor starts making fundamental changes to a writer's submissions, changes that are contrary to what the writer has written, it's time to remove one's byline.

No amount of pocket change are worth having one's credibility destroyed.

Rod said...

Thanks Misti and Steve,

its good to be back, if only in a small way. I've got to say that having my work reconstucted in a manner that made it barely recognizable as my own was another big reason to leave, but you get that anywhere if you publish in a paper. Should I write again for a paper, the editor and I will need to have a long chat about the fundamentals of the English language.