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Re: E-M:/ The rest of the story: What the News won't print about the Ann Arbor Parks millage



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Enviro-Mich message from <williamtobler@critterswoods.org>
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Unfortunately, this is the long time, standard operating procedure for the
Ann Arbor News.
For the most part, I have given up on them.
10 days ago they published a very misleading article about the effects of
quarrys in Monroe County.
I didn't bother responding in writing this time, but in the past they simply
refused to print a responding Letter to the Editor on this subject.  In
other cases, a letter was printed, but the letter was so heavily edited that
the meaning of what was said was changed.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Anne Heise" <aheise@wccnet.org>
To: "enviro-mich postings" <enviro-mich@great-lakes.net>
Sent: Monday, November 04, 2002 1:10 PM
Subject: E-M:/ The rest of the story: What the News won't print about the
Ann Arbor Parks millage


> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Enviro-Mich message from Anne Heise <aheise@wccnet.org>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> ****** Apologies for cross-postings *****
>
> If you live in Ann Arbor, we urge you to vote YES on the Parks Repair and
> Restoration renewal millage at the *very bottom* of Tuesday's election
> ballot.  The millage level is unchanged from the level of the expiring
> millage, and it provides critical funds for the non-routine repairs and
> restoration needed to keep recreation facilities and natural areas in good
> shape.
>
> The Parks ballot proposal has been endorsed unanimously by the citizens on
> the Parks Advisory Commission, by the Ecology Center and Sierra Club, by
> Mayor John Hieftje and his Republican mayoral challenger Marcia Higgins,
> and by the Republican mayoral candidate in the last election.  No local
> group or organization, apart from one business, has publicly opposed this
> parks millage.  Regretably, this one business happens to be the local
> daily newspaper, the Ann Arbor News.
>
> The Ann Arbor News has printed several editorials and columns attacking
> the Parks proposal by misrepresenting the position of millage supporters,
> and refused to print several letters to the editor in support of the
> proposal. It's particularly notable that the News' editors won't print the
> piece written by the leaders of the Ecology Center and the Sierra Club,
> despite the fact that they've repeatedly attacked us for our efforts to
> reform the City's millage rules so that all of the Parks millage money is
> actually spent on parks, instead of being siphoned off for other purposes.
> So much for the local newspaper's alleged interest in a balanced, open
> discussion of public policy issues.
>
> The News has claimed we did a last-minute secret fix on the Parks millage
> ballot language.  Actually our call for reform began on June 4th - months
> before the deadline for City Council to take action on the millage
> proposal - at a *public meeting* of the Parks Advisory Commission, chaired
> by the Republican candidate for mayor in 2000, that was set up explicitly
> for public discussion of the millage.
>
> Our concern is that voters who get most of their (mis)information from the
> News may not support the Parks millage renewal.
>
> So, in a modest grassroots effort to tell the public the part of the story
> the News is suppressing, we offer to you below the brief essay (below) on
> the Parks Repair and Restoration millage proposal that the Ann Arbor News
> won't print.  Please circulate this as widely as possible, so that local
> residents have a chance to learn what this ballot proposal is actually
> about before they vote on Tuesday.
>
> Without this parks millage, there will be no more restoration of natural
> areas, parks bathrooms and play structures will go unrepaired, and dead
> trees in parks will not be replaced.  This millage is vital to the parks
> we all enjoy in so many ways.  Feel free to contact us with questions by
> email or by phone.
>
> Thanks,
>
> Mike Garfield                         Doug Cowherd
> Executive Director, Ecology Center    Co-chair, Sierra Club-Huron Valley
Group
> michaelg@ecocenter.org                aheise@wccnet.org
> 761-3186, extension 104               662-5205
> **********************************************************************
>
> PARKS REPAIR AND RESTORATION REPLACEMENT MILLAGE DESERVE YOUR SUPPORT
>
> Doug Cowherd and Mike Garfield
>
> Ann Arbor has a fantastic parks system with gorgeous natural areas and
> extensive recreation facilities.  What the parks system does not have -
> unless residents vote for it - is money to do the non-routine repairs and
> restoration necessary to keep the parks in good shape.
>
> On November 5th, Ann Arbor residents will have the chance to vote on a
> ballot proposal labeled "A Replacement Tax For Parks." If approved, this
> Parks Repair and Restoration millage will continue the current level of
> funding provided by the expiring millage it is designed to replace.  The
> cost to the average homeowner will remain a little over $3 per month.
> These funds will pay for things like planting and caring for trees,
> landscaping, resurfacing playgrounds, repairing electrical systems, and
> restoring natural areas.
>
> Before putting the replacement millage on the fall ballot, the Ann Arbor
> City Council passed a resolution that provides greater accountability in
> dealing with millage funds.  Council members specified that Parks Repair
> and Restoration millage funds can be spent only on work done in City
> parks, they capped City overhead charges at 2%, and they clearly defined
> the activities that can be paid for with these funds so that millage money
> can't be "raided" for other purposes.  These reforms were exactly what we
> needed to make sure that voter-approved millage funds will be spent in the
> way that residents expect.
>
> Environmentalists should be especially interested in this Parks millage
> because it pays for the Natural Area Preservation (NAP) program which
> restores and protects our best natural places.  The NAP program is best
> known for the work they do with "prescribed burns" and physical removal to
> fight the invasion of non-native plants that threaten to squeeze out
> native plants and destroy the habitat required for native Michigan plants
> and animals to thrive.  NAP also maintains trails, collects and plants
> native seeds, and conducts other stewardship activities.  Millage funds
> pay for the professional expertise necessary to train and supervise the
> local volunteers who are projected to spend 5000 hours working on these
> projects next year.  This leveraging of our tax dollars makes this perhaps
> the most cost-effective operation in City government.
>
> The Ann Arbor News has questioned the involvement of the leaders of the
> Sierra Club and Ecology Center in determining the millage language.  We
> believe it is our duty as leaders of local civic organizations to ensure
> that Parks millages are clear to voters and limit spending only to the
> legitimate purposes approved by voters.
>
> With the new safeguards in place that guarantee frugality and
> accountability, the Parks Repair and Restoration replacement millage will
> provide the funds required to take good care of the 2000 acres of parkland
> that we're so lucky to have. If you love your parks, this is a millage you
> can vote for with enthusiasm.
>
> ***************************
>
> Doug Cowherd is Co-Chair of the Huron Valley Group of the Sierra
> Club.  Mike Garfield is Director of the Ecology Center.
>
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