Archive for the 'Ideas Bad' Category

Mar 13 2009

Ann Arbor Airport Runway Extension

Published by under Ideas Bad

I felt like calling the airline pilot that wrote the column in the Other Voices Column in the Ann Arbor News (Friday, March 13). Sol Castell complained about spending money to add 800 ft to the runway.  The pilot while I am sure that he had good intentions, had no idea what he was talking about.

In the article, the 747 pilot stated that the length of the runway has no bearing on the glide slope a plane flies on approach.  While his statement is basically true,  the real problem is not the length of the runway per se,  rather where it is located.  Picture a runway up close to the foothills of the mountains.  The length of the runway (assuming it is long enough) doesn’t dictate the slope of the approach, but the mountains sure do!   That is the problem at the Ann Arbor Airport that we want to fix.  The real motivation for the construction is to move the approach end of the runway away from the nearby road. (State St) If the approach end of the runaway moves west, then planes can fly a shallower and safer approach over the vehicular traffic on State St.

He was also wrong in stating that larger aircraft will be able to use the longer runway.  Sure there may be one or two larger aircraft that will now be able to land on the longer runway, but 800 feet will not significantly change the mix of aircraft arriving and departing.  To attract bigger and noisier aircraft we would have to have at least 5000 feet of runway and a precision approach.  That is not going to happen for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the proximity of Willow Run  which is a much better airport for small business jets.

The thing that will happen is a safer operation. I wish that the pilot had called me before he put out his erroneous information that may cost a future pilot his life.  I was on the Airport Board for 7 years and a commercial pilot for 32 years. There were several very serious overruns while I was on the Board. Luckily none were fatal.   The current members of the the AA Airport Board are pretty smart folks and I can assure you they do not want to waste your money.

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Feb 07 2009

City Council Speech 2/2/2009

Published by under Budget,Ideas Bad

I am sure it will come as no surprise to you that I am here tonight to speak against the proposed police court renovation at Larcom.  I would like to go on record with my concerns about the continuation of this large and mostly unnecessary expenditure. 

Let me preface my remarks with an observation. I don’t think that anyone would argue that the police department needs substantial renovation and improvements for the physical plant due to neglect of past administrations so I will confine my remarks to the money allocated to the court and other additions to Larcom. 

Here are my major concerns:

  1. First, this is not the time to commit residents that are struggling to make their own mortgage payments to a stream of interest payments totaling $26 M over the next 30 years to fix what essentially is not broken.  Nor is this is not the time to commit the DDA to a stream of payments of $15M over the next 30 years that will not benefit the downtown merchants.  

  1. Next, the $47M expenditure for bricks and mortar forces the City and County to unnecessarily duplicate expenditures for court security, IT, transportation and administrative services in perpetuity.  Future administrations, more focused on Regionalization will view the lost opportunity to combine all the Court services as a single unit as a bigger financial boondoggle than the early retirements granted to our City employees.

  1. Additionally, why do you think  the construction manager is lobbying heavily to convince the City to abandon the pursuit of LEED Gold certification? It is because they know they cannot bring the building in under budget with green building practices in the equation.

  1. Lastly, City policy on Debt Management as outlined in the Adopted Budget 2009  for Limited Tax General Obligation debt stipulates that these bonds should be considered only when constraints preclude the practice of voter approved general obligation bonds.  What precluded the favored General Obligation bonds in this instance except the convenience of not having to obtain voter approval?   


You have the opportunity now to do the right thing and abandon this dangerous course and revisit the County’s offer to cooperate in “reengineering” government in Washtenaw County and use the cost saving to try to lower the tax burden of our residents and businesses.        


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Jan 16 2009

A City Income Tax? You have to be kidding!

Published by under Ideas Bad

Does anybody really think this is a good idea.  Why don’t we start trying to find ways to cut expenses first? We may be forced to soon but first we need radical overhauls in the way we continue to spend money!

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Jan 15 2009

Conference Center Downtown

Published by under Development,Ideas Bad,Politics

I am amazed that the idea of a conference center downtown keeps surfacing.  Rumor has it that the City and some other other influential people originally had their eyes on the the land at Huron Hills as a spot for a 400 person conference center.  The City even went so far as to have the land appraised.  When the town banded together and stopped the sale of the Huron Hills property, the focus shifted to the land above the newly approved underground parking structure on 5th Street next to the AA Public Library.  It seems to me that there are much better places to put a conference center if there is really a need for one.  Out near Briarwood Mall might be the best place.  If we as a City decide to build one it should be a joint effort on the part of the City, The State, The County and The University.   We need to start broadening our perspective and stop committing taxpayer funds to “Build It and They Will Come” concepts that could eventually cost the taxpayer more money.

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