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September 10, 1992 - Image 45

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-09-10

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The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition-City - Thursday, September 10, 1992- Page 5
ouncil debates trees,
douestic partnerships
i Mayor, councdmembenpivalize paiding, waste disposal

City Administrator Al Gatta and Mayor Liz Brater lead a discussion at a City Council meeting.
Democrats take majorty of
Council in April elections

by Erin Einhorn
Daily Staff Reporter
Before the April 6 City Council
election - when Democrats cham-
pioned the electoral races in four of
the city's five wards - the Ann
Arbor Democratic Party had never
had such a strong majority.
The election changed the ten-
ember council's party ratio from
the 8-3, majority of 1991, to a 9-2
Democratic majority for 1992. Ann
Arbor mayor Liz Brater - elected
for a two-year term in 1991 - is
also a Democrat and has a regular
vote a council meetings.
Members of the Republican party
say they have never had such a small
"They don't even have to listen
06 us, if they don't want to," said
councilmember Peter Fink (R-2nd
Ward), the only Republican elected
April 6.
But Fink said he plans to work
with the mayor and the Democrats to
ensure his ideas are heard.
"We will accomplish the most by
paying attention to them and getting
them to listen to us," Fink said. "My
oal is to open minds."
Fink campaigned for his 2nd-
Ward seat on a platform of eliminat-
ing partisan bickering from the
"I would be strongly in favor of a
joint caucus," he said. "When
you've got people sitting on one side
of the street and some sitting on the
other side of the street, literally plot-
ting over issues and the two go to a
neeting and try to sort things out ...
that just isn't a good atmosphere for
resolving problems."
But he said Brater relieved some
of his fears at the season's first meet-
ing April 13, by suggesting that the
council hold more joint caucuses.
In previous years, council mem-
bers have met with the other mem-
bers of their party before each
meeting to establish a platform.
"But we have so many people in
one caucus, it seems a little ridicu-
lous to meet in separate parties,"
Brater said. "We may want to all
come together on a regular basis."
Fink called this idea "music to

my ears.".
"At least you will hear the other
person's point of view," he said.
"The more information you have, the
easier it is to form an opinion."
The other members on council
include Larry Hunter (D-4th Ward) a
Black Ann Arbor native who has
served on city council for ten years
and was recently elected for his sixth
Hunter, the only African-
American presently on the Council,
said the main thing he has learned
over the years is fiscal responsibility.
"I used to be one of those wide-
eyed radical people," he said.
The other 1st Ward seat was re-
cently vacated by Ann Marie
Coleman, who left her seat to fill a
minister position at a church in
Her replacement had yet to be de-
termined by press time, but unless
she is replaced by a woman, Brater
and Thais Peterson (D-5th Ward)
will be the only women on council.
Peterson was also re-elected
April 6.
Both council Republicans sit in
2nd Ward seats. Beside Fink, the
other Republican on the Council is
Kirk Dodge.
He said he is also concerned
about the growing Democratic ma-
"It's definitely going to make our
job harder now that there are two of
us," he said.
Democrats Bob Grady and
Nelson Meade represent the 3rd
Meade, a senior citizen, served
on City Council in the early 1970's.
He said he ran for his old seat in
1991 because he did not like the di-
rection in which the city was
The council appointed Grady last
year to fill the vacancy left when
Brater - a former 3rd Ward council
member - was elected mayor. He
was re-elected this year.
Constituents in the 4th Ward
have traditionally elected Repub-
licans, but for the first time in
decades, both 4th Ward representa-

tives are Democrats.
When councilmember Kurt
Zimmer (D-4th Ward) was elected in
1991, he was the first Democrat
elected to the 4th Ward in 18 years.
Since then, he has received a
great deal of criticism from other
Democrats for consistently voting
with the Republican faction and
earned the nickname among Ann
Arbor activists as a "Rupublicrat."
Zimmer has said that although he
is a Democrat he sees himself as an
independent thinker and disregards
his critics.
When the other 4th Ward
Democrat - Peter Nicolas - won
his seat April 6, it was also consid-
ered a major upset.
"I had to overcome that fact that
may age is as young as it is,"
Nicolas said. "It wasn't an easy
campaign to win, but I just had to
work hard and not take the voters for
Nicolas, who recently received
his masters degree from the
University in public policy at age 21,
is the youngest council member. He
turned 22 April 13, the same day he
took the oath of office.
Tom Weider, a local attorney in-
volved with the Democratic party
said that Nicolas' election was very
"If your were to ask someone in
the 4th Ward last year if they would
ever elect another Democrat, who
was a 21-year-old student, they
would laugh at you," he said. "Peter
stopped that laughing."
But Nicolas said he was not that
"The only thing I think this says
is people are not paying as much at-
tention to partisan labels as they
used to," he said.
Peterson and Bob Eckstein, a
University alumnus who concen-
trates much of his efforts on envi-
ronmental legislation, are the
Democrats who represent the 5th
The Republicans who ran for the
council this year criticized the 8-3
Democratic majority for "man-
ipulating" issues and for "over-
glorifying" their party.

by Travis McReynolds
Daily Staff Reporter
Last year marked a number of
firsts for the city of Ann Arbor -
Liz Brater served her first year as the
city's first woman mayor, Police
Chief Doug Smith and City
Administrator Al Gatta completed
their first years in their new
positions, and Elizabeth Schwartz
became the first woman to be
appointed to the position of City
The council debated and voted on
many important issues during the
1991-92 school year.
In November, after a five-hour
public hearing and much discussion,
the Council passed the Domestic
Partnership Ordinance - a contro-
versial ordinance allowing gay and
lesbian couples as well as unmarried
heterosexual partners to publicly
register their relationship with the
City Clerk's office.
Former Councilmember Ann
Marie Coleman (D-1st Ward) spon-
sored the ordinance in order to
"broaden the definition of the word
'family,"' she said.
Those in opposition to the cou-
ples law argued that it encourages
immoral behavior.
Charles and Ellen Graham of
Ann Arbor, who opposed the ordi-
nance, filed a lawsuit challenging the
legality of the partnerships in
January of this year.
Chief Washtenaw Circuit Judge
Melinda Morris dismissed the case
from court before it went to trial.
Morris said the Grahams had no le-
gal standing to challenge the ordi-
nance which was unanimously
passed by the City Council.
Ann Arbor has always been
known to be a city with an abun-
dance of a wide variety of trees. In
early February, Councilmember Bob
Eckstein (D-5th Ward), along with
the Natural Features Preservation
Committee, attempted to pass the
Natural Features Preservation
Ordinance - an effort to preserve
Ann Arbor's trees, as well as
streams and marshes.
Under the proposed ordinance,
residents would be required to obtain

a permit before cutting down
"landmark" trees on their property.
"Landmark" trees include approxi-
mately 84 different tree species.
The proposed fines for removing
a tree without a permit range from
$763 for removing a tree with a six-
inch trunk diameter at chest level, to
$76,302 for a tree with a 60-inch
At the preliminary reading, the
City Council passed the ordinance
by an 8-3 vote, but after three public
hearings where many residents
voiced their opposition to the ordi-
'I want to see very old,
huge trees in Ann
Arbor whenI'm an old
- Bob Eckstein
nance, the Council sent it back to the
"We wanted to make this ordi-
nance transparent to the homeowner.
We don't want people and develop-
ers to feel like potential criminals,
we just want to protect our trees,"
Eckstein said. "This is very impor-
tant to me. I want to see very old,
huge trees in Ann Arbor when I'm
an old man."
Councilmember Kirk Dodge (R-
2nd Ward) served on the committee
that drafted the ordinance. However,
he voted against it.
"If we can discourage the clear
cutting of trees by developers, then
we should. The wholesale protection
is going way overboard," Dodge
Shortly after Mayor Brater was
elected in the spring of 1991, she de-
clared that the city of Ann Arbor
was in a state of "solid waste emer-
gency." In May of this year, the sec-
ond phase of Ann Arbor's landfill
reached capacity.
The landfill has three phases -
or areas of waste disposal. The first

was built, filled with waste, and
reached capacity. Then the second
phase was filled, and finally, the
third phase was built, but did not
pass requirements for operation from
the Department of Natural Resources
The City Council has been faced
with a number of decisions regarding
where to proceed with waste dis-
posal - appeal the DNR's ruling,
repair Phase I or III, or contract out
to private waste facilities outside the
city of Ann Arbor.
The privatization of waste collec-
tion has been the most popular short-
term solution to the solid waste
Newly elected Councilmember
and University graduate student
Peter Nicolas (D-4th Ward) favors
such a plan.
"I support contracting with a pri-
vate trash firm in the short-term,
with the long-term goal of establish-
ing a materials recovery facility to
reduce our dependence on landfill
space," Nicolas said.
In the past year, the City Council
set up a curb-side recycle pickup for
all homes and apartments and a
mandatory recycling ordinance in
the city, which Mayor Brater said
has reduced the amount of waste
filling the landfill.
In an effort to save money for the
city, the Council voted in March to
privatize Ann Arbor's parking struc-
The Council decided to lease the
structures to the Downtown Devel-
opment Authority (DDA) in ex-
change for payment. In the past,
unionized city employees worked in
the 13 parking structures owned by
the city. Members of the Council's
Democratic caucus, however, feared
the change would cause union work-
ers employed in the parking garages
to lose their jobs to lower paid em-
ployees hired by the DDA.
After some deliberation and
tabling of the proposed deal with the
DDA just before this year's city
elections, the resolution was passed
by the Council. The parking struc-
tures downtown are now operated by
the DDA.


/t \ nt nnn*




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