As reported by the Ann Arbor News, "The council first voted in April to fund the service in full. But Council Member Bill Nickels, D-2nd Ward, was absent for that vote and asked the council Tuesday to reconsider its decision. He called it improper to cut other services to balance the city’s budget while sparing the bus service.The council approved the resolution to keep bus service in full in a 4-1 vote, with Robb voting against it.
Gawlas said many people in the city depend on the bus for transportation, and reducing the service would impact more people than cuts in other services – especially at a time when the price of gas continues to rise. "It’s important for us to maintain the bus service," he said.
From the minutes of Thursday, 08 may 2008, of the Ypsilanti City Council Meeting:
BE IT RESOLVED, that the City of Ypsilanti commits to safeguard this minimum service level and City Council hereby directs the City Manager to identify potential additional funding options including, but not limited to, further contribution from the general fund for the fiscal year ending 2009; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that City Council, both collectively and individually, undertake the task of advancing public understanding of the tentative nature of public transportation as it exists and call for a coalition of municipalities, institutions and private businesses to advocate a regional transportation model that better serves the needs of the County of Washtenaw.
OFFERED BY: Council Member Gawlas SUPPORTED BY: Mayor Pro-Tem Swanson Council Member
On roll call, the vote to approve the resolution was as follows:
Council Member Filipiak Yes
Council Member Robb No
Council Member Gawlas YES
Mayor Pro-Tem Swanson Yes
Council Member Nickels Absent
Mayor Schreiber Yes
Council Member Richardson Yes
Finally, again on 27 May 2008, the City Council again considered the support of bus service provided by AATA and approved the following resolution:
From the minutes of Thursday, 27 may 2008, of the Ypsilanti City Council Meeting:
WHEREAS the City of Ypsilanti has committed to safeguard current service levels provided by the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) and anticipates entering into a Purchase of Service Agreement (POSA) that maintains those levels, and
WHEREAS, the Ypsilanti City Council has previously given direction to the City Manager through Resolution 2008-088 to identify potential additional funding options including, but not limited to, further contribution from the general fund for the fiscal year ending 2009, and Council Budget Session May 27, 2008 4
WHEREAS, the City Council was provided a memorandum from the Assistant City Manager dated 16 May 2008 outlining three options by which the City can contribute in the event other outside funding such as partnerships are unable to be secured,
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council rejects any option that directs the City Manager to eliminate more personnel as a funding strategy for the Purchase of Service Agreement (POSA), and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council hereby accepts the recommendation of staff and directs the City Manager to allocate the necessary balance of funding from the projected excess revenues for the fiscal year ending 2009.
OFFERED BY: Council Member Gawlas SUPPORTED BY: Council Member Nickels
The roll call vote was as follows:
Council Member Filipiak – Yes
Council Member Robb – No
Council Member Gawlas – YES
Mayor Pro-Tem Swanson – Absent
Council Member Nickels – Yes
Mayor Schreiber – Yes
Council Member Richardson – Absent
Political hyperbole aside (which I understandably expect during the normal political), Mr. Obermeyer’s misrepresentation of the facts is incompetence at best and at worst represents a willful effort to engage in deceitful actions in the advocacy of his chosen candidate. Ypsilanti deserves better than this and I call Mr. Obermeyer out on his fabrication.
I thought it worthwhile to include these questions posed by MLive.com and my responses as a way of providing more insight into my approach to the issues facing Ypsilanti – John Gawlas
Q: What do you consider the most important issues that need to be addressed?
Redevelopment of commercial and industrial property within the city is critical to increasing the tax base. To encourage investment in our community, we must reduce barriers and seek out tools to assist private sector partners in achieving highest and best use of existing industrial and commercial properties. We should certainly maintain our certification in the Redevelopment Ready Communities program of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. The city must be at the forefront of economic development efforts in eastern Washtenaw County, leveraging the SPARK East incubator and pushing for greater county commitment to a regional transportation model. Long term sustainability for the City of Ypsilanti will require effective collaboration with neighboring communities to safeguard and enhance public safety. The recently completed feasibility study for a regional police authority was an important first step. Of course, the fiscal challenges facing all communities in Michigan point to the dysfunctional model of municipal finance in our state. Revenue sharing must be established as a priority while identifying additional regional options for funding transportation.
Q: What makes you uniquely qualified for the position?
I have been an active community member who has built relationships with the business community, economic development entities, non-profit organizations, volunteer and neighborhood groups. My experience has provided me a broad perspective and afforded greater understanding of how the collaborative process can increase achievement. Having served on numerous boards and committees, I also know how difficult the process can sometimes be to develop trust and consensus. It takes time to comprehend the eccentricity within municipal finance and the manner in which the local, state and federal governments interact. This oftentimes defies simple solutions, requiring one to embrace highly creative approaches to achieve success. In this context, experience in government is an asset that aids in the understanding of how to address complex issues. For over a decade, I have interacted with public officials within this county and throughout the state sharing our successes and failures. It is this knowledge base from which I draw when considering the issues facing my own community
Q: What else do you want voters to know about you?
I have committed a great deal of time to public service but also struggle with the priorities of being a parent. That has taught me significant lessons about patience, honesty, empathy and communication in establishing relationships. I take my role as an elected representative seriously and recognize that criticism or disagreement is a necessary component in honest governance.
JOHN GAWLAS FOR YPSILANTI CITY COUNCIL WARD 2
– LOCAL LABOR UPDATE –
I am pleased of the support afforded me by many friends and colleagues. I am proud to report that I had the opportunity to speak to local labor leaders recently about my commitment to working families within our community. As a result of that discussion, I have received the endorsement of the Washtenaw County Skilled Building Trades Council. Their individual member organizations include:
SOME HISTORY TO REVIEW
First elected to office in 1996, I have had the honor of serving three terms as Council Member for Ward 2. I was one of the authors of the City’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance which was affirmed by voters in two separate challenges. As a member of the negotiating subcommittee, we obtained a settlement with Oakwood Healthcare System’s closure of Beyer Hospital resulting in the establishment of the Beyer Memorial Health Foundation.
During my tenure, we also passed the Living Wage Ordinance respecting our community’s belief that public money not subsidize or perpetuate working poverty. I advocated for investment in our local infrastructure and was a member of the Ypsilantians Enhancing Streets (YES) committee for the road bond proposal passed in 2001.
We have seen real progress in our city from ridding our business districts of the nuisance adult businesses to development of additional tax base such as Forest Health Services (the former Beyer Hospital), Cross Street Village (the old Ypsilanti High School) and Walgreen’s/Auto Zone (former site of Cleary College). There has been redevelopment of older industrial sites such as Peninsular Place (former site of Pennisular Paper Company) and the popular Corner Brewery (part of the old Motor Wheel site). It is clear that Ypsilanti offers developers a “redevelopment-ready” community in which to invest. An honest appraisal says we are doing some things right.
We still have much work to do…and that is why I am seeking re-election.
SPARK’s board this afternoon officially authorized the signing of a lease for the 13,000-square-foot first level of the 24,168-square-foot facility, said Elizabeth Parkinson, SPARK’s director of marketing and public relations.
The organization will also relocate the Michigan Innovation Equipment Depot – a collection of used life sciences equipment, mostly donated by Pfizer Inc. – to the Smith Furniture building. The equipment, previously stored at a secluded warehouse near Eastern Michigan University’s main campus, will take up about 1,500 to 2,000 square feet.
"This will allow us to consolidate it there and be able to manage everything out of one location," Finney said.