Scandals. Factions. Power grabs. Lawsuits.
This is how the local Washtenaw County administration works.
While Ann Arbor has a reputation for being a home of spiritual awakening, its city government has been described as dangerous in recent years.
Tom Crawford, a former administrator who once viewed Ann Arbor as the best option to escape the Howard Lazarus debacle, sent the city a cease-and-desist letter, alleging "unjustified defamation." Last summer, the council approved his departure despite allegation he made inappropriate remarks about race, gender, and sexual orientation.
This is the latest episode of the ongoing soap opera at City Hall. Ryan explores why and how city politics is a mess in Ann Arbor over the winter. Lisa Disch, a council member at the University of Michigan, explained that the involved are no longer fighting for policy, but for power.
"When people feel like they're fighting a battle for control rather than a confrontation for policy, the stakes increase."
Now, it appears that dysfunction is expanding west into Scio Township, where the board is dealing with the same type of in-fighting.
Scio Township, which has a population of over 20,000 people, is on Ann Arbor's western border and is roughly as "suburban Ann Arbor" as you may get.
Lucas Smolcic-Larson released two bombshells from Scio this week.
On Monday, Clerk Jessica Flintoft, which she believes is a strategy to preserve emergency financial staffing. The suit also alleges that Supervisor Will Hathaway's behavior has been a "liability for the township."
Hathaway said that the lawsuit involves "the clerk wanting to have control. She wants... a very, very powerful clerk."
The township administrator David Rowley was joined at the township board meeting on Tuesday.
Rowley, an administrator with over 30 years of experience, is flying ship after just five months on the job, declaring that "there was no incentive to remain here" owing to "ongoing township events."
Conflict and lawsuits are nothing new to politics, of course. This week we also closed the loop on a 2019 lawsuit filed by a white fire captain against the city of Ypsilanti, alleging racial discrimination. Phil Kamm, a fire captain in Livonia, sued the city after his job offer for the Ypsi fire chief position was rescinded and given to a Black candidate.
Lawsuit settlements aren't always easy to track. They're usually settled out of court, behind closed doors, and the public is never aware of them. In February, MLive was asked to investigate the use of the Freedom of Information Act. One suggestion was to investigate the settlement of this lawsuit.
Nathan Clark was provided with the FOIA, and we learned that Kamm paid $270,000 to settle the lawsuit.
Read more about those stories and many more here.
Tom Crawford, a former City Administrator, is accused of putting "unjustified dissemination" against him and urging the city to break it.
In a letter to the city attorney's office on April 8, Crawford's private attorney claimed the City Council released a inadequate and incomplete document in January, which might sag a possibility for Crawford to obtain a new job in the public sector.
The clerk of Scio Township, just west of Ann Arbor, has filed a lawsuit against the township board she manages to serve, alleging a last-ditch restraining order to preserve emergency financial personnel she believes is preventing "irreparable harm" to the local government.
The lawsuit, filed on Monday, April 11, in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court, is a significant spike in conflict that has raged the township board for months.
David Rowley, the Scio Township Administrator, has announced his intention to quit less than five months after his tenure.
Rowley, a veteran municipal officer, told elected township officials that he had initially planned to stay in Scio until his retirement.
Never is there any desire to remain here, Rowley said at the Scio Township Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, April 12.
According to reports, a lawsuit alleging Ypsilanti discriminated against a white man was set to become the city's next fire chief.
MLive/The Ann Arbor News' settlement agreement has shown that the city paid $270,000 to Phil Kamm to resolve this lawsuit.
As the city continues to transition away from brick sidewalks, one portion of Washington Street in downtown Ann Arbor received a facelift.
The Downtown Development Authority is in the process of replacing the brick sidewalk along the north side of the street between the Fourth and Fifth avenues with concrete, removing bricks that have existed for years.
After several years of delay that extended the timeframe for the mixed-use site, an extensive planning of Ann Arbor has broken ground.
According to a statement from the Catherine Ann Development Company, the construction of The Glen, a mixed-use facility at the corner of Glen Avenue and Ann Street, is "full steam ahead."
The development was approved in 2017 and would begin in 2018. Following some technical changes were approved in late 2019, full-scale construction was planned for 2020, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 epidemic. The opening is currently planned for 2024.
Although Casey's Tavern has been operating for 35 years in Ann Arbor, regular customers may notice a fresh look to the menu and the space.
Management forecasted that Casey's Tavern would last for a few weeks as lockdowns approached by construction and then another wave of COVID-19, so it took about a year and a half until it was able to reopen.
It's a small area, and 25% in here is not many, said General Manager Paul Thomas. So we put ourselves on hold until we could do it properly and safely.
A Black residential advisor claims to be racial motivated vandalism, according to the University of Michigan authorities.
Solomon Lucy, an RA in Mary Markley Hall, returned to his room around 3 a.m. Saturday, April 9, to discover a vandalized poster board he adorned with famous Black women for Women's History Month,.
Various posters were used by Lucy to provide students with information about him in his hallway, and as the other board, the information was divided in half by an unknown individual, he said.
After a setback in its quest for permits for a new mine on 400 acres of farmland, a Michigan sand and gravel mine operator issued a stern warning to authorities in rural Washtenaw County.
A lawyer for Michigan Materials & Aggregate Co., also known as Stoneco, threatened legal action against Sharon Township, an area of less than 2,000 people near Manchester.
The six-page missive has urged township board members to break with the township planning commission and dismiss that body's recommendation it finds "no need" for extracted materials, commonly used in road construction.
According to local authorities, a 72-year-old Ann Arbor man died following a scuba diving accident in the Florida Keys.
Authorities said Jeffrey Archer was diving in 95 feet of water in a "drop" off Islamorada on Wednesday, April 6, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. After surfacing and returning to a commercial dive boat, he lost consciousness.
Washtenaw County, Michigan, was the only county to begin working to "medium" on a federal tool to gauge several key COVID-19 transmission records across the country on Thursday, April 7.
Although the status does not imply substantial recommendations for public masking, local health authorities are advising anyone living with someone who is at a higher risk of severe illness to do so, including by testing indoors and regular dosages.
Thanks for reading, and I'll be back next Friday with another set of headlines.
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As an earlier version of this story said, this story has been corrected so that the Ann Arbor City Council approved Crawford's departure. Rather, it would remove him.
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