Archive for July, 2008

Jul 24 2008

Strong “Un” Endorsement

Published by under Lessons learned

STRONG   “UN” endorsement !

Some of you will have already seen the AA News endorsement of my opponent in the Editorial Section of the AA News today.  Aside from a poor choice of words, I think that the Editorial staff did a pretty good job of assessing what I stand for but came to the wrong conclusion on who can best represent our Ward.  

Let’s look at what they said about my campaign sentence by sentence. 

I am campaigning hard!  When you are not strongly supported by the Mayor and other Party Politicos to run for a vacant council seat , that is the only way to get elected.

I have done my homework! That is obvious to anyone that has spoken with me or listened to my neighborhood salons.  What else would you expect from your councilman? In fact that is how I have conducted my entire educational and professional career.  That is what got me into the Business School Honor Society and kept me and my passengers alive for 30 years. 

I have a charming blog.  Thanks, please visit it at www.svnelson.com .  Their choice of the word “charming” seems to imply that clear, consistent communication is a quaint idea!!  I believe it is essential to good government, and I will not back down from this belief.  You will always know where I stand.

Sharply critical of City Administrator Roger Fraser and Mayor Hieftje.   I agree I have had some rather well publicized disputes with both the Mayor and the City Administrator.   Do you want our council representatives to just be a “rubber stamp”?  What is the definition of “Group Think”?  Dissention and disagreement are part of the democratic process.  Where would we be as nation if we never challenged the status quo?  Think Boston Tea Party.

Doesn’t agree with council majority.  So true!  Ask departing councilman Ron Suarez about disagreeing with the council majority.   Ask the council minority, Mike Anglin, Steve Kunselman and Sabra Briere about being excluded from important discussions on the Labor & Finance Committee on the Tios land acquisition.   Ask Mary Campbell of Everyday Cook in Kerrytown what happens when you are on the wrong side of the council majority and you need a liquor license to keep your doors open.   My personal feeling is that there should not be a council majority or minority if you only have one party running the City.

I would come into the job with a “chip” on my shoulder.   I think they hit the wrong body part here!  I would come into council with a concern in my heart.   My energy and passion may come across as a chip but when my main motivation is to do what is best for the City I love; I guess it is OK if the council majority calls it a “chip”.  That is a mantle I am more than willing to shoulder. 

My Strong  “Un” endorsement by ther AA News will only make me work harder to get elected because it confirms that I am on the correct path! 

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Jul 23 2008

Planning & Zoning Meeting

Published by under On the campaign trail

I attended a Planning & Zoning, P&Z,  meeting at City Hall yesterday.  The meeting was conducted By Jeff Kahan, Matt Kowalski and Alexi (I did not catch her last name).  Only two members of the Planning Commission attended, Ethel Potts and Jean Carlberg. Also in attendance was a local architect, Alice Roberts.  This was a very talented group and the discussion  technical at times.  I was surprised I actually knew what they were talking about most of the time!  There is a great deal to learn.

The Committee was trying to deal with the average setback issue.  You may recall a few weeks ago, the Planning Department wanted to rewrite code so that average setbacks are eliminated with only Minimum and Maximum setbacks established for R1,  Single Family Residential.  As you can guess this might affect a few streets in the 2nd Ward so I was very motivated to understand this very complicated issue. Not much was decided, except that further study is necessary.  I will keep track of this issue as it works its way through the approval process so I will keep you posted.

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Jul 23 2008

My First Television Interview

Published by under On the campaign trail

I had my first television interview yesterday for a local program shown on the Cable Television Network, CTN.  The production “crew” ( i.e Dan Reeves) set up all his equipment in my den so I was feeling very comfortable.   Dan Reeves was also the interviewer.  Dan has a very relaxed style that puts you instantly at ease.  We covered a variety of subjects that will do a great job of getting my message across to the voters, I hope.  Who knows? I have never been interviewed before.  I did not have any “make up” on so who knows how I am even going to look.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.  I will let you know when it is going to be broadcast.

Tonight I have a live “debate” with my opponent on CTN also. This should be interesting.  I don’t think I have ever watched a debate for City Council so I cannot imagine it will affect the election much,  but your guess is a good as mine.  I am not a politician so I don’t try to put the correct spin on things.  I just call things as I see them, and I am motivated to vote for what is best for the city I love.   You will not agree with everything I say or do, but I guarantee you will know why I decided the way I did.

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Jul 17 2008

Reshuffle the Deck

Published by under Politics

I’m still amused by the fact that the Mayor appears so anxious to put my opponent on council.  Simply put, I’m seeking this vacant council seat to be responsive to you, the voter, not to any “establishment.”   Entrenched bureaucrats are detrimental to efficient government – or any government for that matter – because they are prone to “group think.”  The “clique,” that appears to be running the City is fighting very hard to keep me and other qualified candidates off the council.  It is clearly time to “reshuffle” the deck

 

I am very concerned about our sluggish economy and the impact that it will have on our future budgets.  With very few exceptions, we cannot influence revenue in the short run. Cost control is our only real short term fiscal tool.  We must be very prudent and not spend money we don’t have.  Successful businesses learn this very quickly and act accordingly in tough times.  In dire times, businesses limit new expenditures and typically don’t spend on new programs without a cost offset.  Our city should act in the same way.

 

In the long run we can influence future revenue outside of the Headlee and Prop “A” caps, as new construction does not full under the Headlee caps.  We need to stimulate “smart growth” by working more effectively with our entrepreneurs, business owners, and developers.  I want to stay very active to make sure that our growth respects the past, but also respects the financial commitment that business owners and developers make to our community when they embark upon a project.  Implementing the new Downtown Design Guidelines will help, but there are still parts that I disagree with — like the proposed changes to setbacks.  These would be devastating to the Second Ward. 

 

Did you know that new tax revenue from projects in the Downtown Development Authority, DDA,  does not increase City revenue?   This is a myth that we need to understand before we push for growth at any cost.  We need smart growth. The DDA is a”City within a City” that has their own revenue sources from Tax Increment Financing, TIF, and parking revenue.  A new building in the DDA will NOT lower your property taxes.

 

We also can help on the job front.  We need jobs!!  SPARK can help.  We provide very little support to them now.   I am pleased that we have started to install LED traffic lights downtown, but I would rather make the announcement that we are building an LED factory here.  My goal is to help find new industries that will replace the automobile industry that was the economic engine of the 20th century. 

 

My blog has additional information about me and my positions.  For instance, I was recently awarded the endorsement of the Huron Valley Group of the Sierra Club.  This endorsement came from the State Chapter, not the local Chapter as our local newspaper tried to insinuate.  I am proud to accept this endorsement, and will work to earn the trust they placed in me. 

I would be happy to sit and discuss the issues with anyone in our ward willing to listen.  In preparation for my role a councilman, I have interviewed almost 100 local government and business leaders, academics, city managers, non-profit leaders as well as other stakeholders in our community.  I have gone “door to door” on almost every street in Ward 2 to personally hear out what your concerns are.   My campaign slogan is “Your Voice, Your Ann Arbor” and I mean it.  I have put my cell phone number and or e-mail address on every piece of literature that I hand out.  I am prepared to listen even more than I speak – and I look forward to hearing from you.  

~Stew

734-972-6003 Cell

www.svnelson.com

 

Stewart@svnelson.com        

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Jul 11 2008

Arts Alliance

Published by under Lessons learned

I recently received a questionnaire for local government candidates from the Arts  Alliance.  This organization is managed by a very impressive Director, Ms. Tamara Real. Tamara is ably assisted by a small staff and “hundreds” of community volunteers.   The Alliance shares an office with the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce.  It is ironic that the Alliance poses a question about the benefit of public art.  Just ask any Chamber staff member how they feel about sharing an “art filled” office with the Alliance.

The Alliance posed these questions to all candidates running for office in Washtenaw County.  I thought you might benefit from reading my responses.

Art Alliance Candidate Questions:

1.     What is your position on public funding for arts and culture? The city of Ann Arbor has recently adopted a 1.0% rule to fund public art which means that 1.0% of capital building projects must be spent on public art.  One of the first expenditures was on a series of whimsical sculptures that were the work of a promising University of Michigan art student,  Elshafei Mohamed.   Brightly colored and playful, these statues are based on Mr. Mohamed’s experiences with the Umbororo nomads of the Sudan. The “Herd” magically appeared in front of the Larcom Municipal building one April afternoon.  We can only surmise the influence this display and the feedback will have on this young artist’s career.  I did get a hint however as I watched the smile on his face as wide as the Sahara as he received recognition of council. I am totally committed to maintaining funding to at least this level from the City because it has been demonstrated in many cities around the U.S. that a sustained commitment to public art contributes greatly to the “Livability” of a city, and according to the American Institutes of Architects, AIA,  “Livability” is one the key components of Sustainability—our  21st Century Zeitgeist.   

2. If elected, what measurable actions will you take to ensure that arts and cultural offerings survive and thrive in Washtenaw County? Please be specific.

1.      Ensure that funding (~$200,000 County wide) is available for an accurate census every 3 to 5 years to ascertain progress on key metric such as number of artists, art teachers, art galleries, art related businesses number of public art pieces commissioned, etc.

2.      Track annually the number of public art pieces commissioned by the City.  Set a goal then measure again the next year.

3.      Track annually the dollar amount of the City contribution to the performing arts.  Set a goal then measure again the next year. 

4.      Keep the Summer Festival alive!  It may need more money next year from public-private partnerships. 

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