The Politics of Oops: AAPS BOE Trustee Friedman’s Residency Questions Answered, Partially
A2P Note: This post about Trustee Friedman has been updated to reflect new information posted to AnnArbor.com on November 19th.
A2Politico posted an entry about Ann Arbor Board of Education Trustee Randy Friedman, and in the comment section, a reader posted this tip:
Okay Folks, I’m not 100% sure on this, but I believe that Randy Friedman, Ann Arbor Public School Trustee, sends his kids to Detroit Country Day… by limo. Can anyone substantiate?
Friedmans are big philanthropists, good for them, and, of course, we all make decisions for our kids that are personal and individual.
But I can’t help but feel creepy about someone who would be on the school board but the public schools are not good enough for his kids….
Comment by Pearl C — November 17, 2009 @ 11:14 am
A second A2Politico reader responded:
That the Friedman’s send their children to DCD is absolutely true. Of course, that is their right and their business. So is the limo. However, it does make one question his motive for being on the Board.
Comment by Arborborn — November 17, 2009 @ 11:48 pm
AnnArbor.com writer David Jesse did some excellent digging, and this morning that site is reporting that Ann Arbor Board of Trustee member Randy Friedman’s children do, in fact, attend Detroit Country Day in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and not the Ann Arbor Public Schools. David Jesse writes: “His [Friedman's] youngest 2 children moved to Country Day last spring, joining their sister, who made the jump from Ann Arbor 2 years ago, and their brother, who started there 3 years ago.”
People are free to send their children where they like to school, and I agree that having children in the AAPS should not be a test of one’s ability to serve the parents, or the 16,421 children who do attend the public schools. Ironically, though, it was Trustee Friedman who was a driving force behind the District’s $75,000 “Exceptional” advertising campaign to “market” the district and increase enrollment. Currently, some 2,000 children in Ann Arbor attend local private schools. Friedman was quoted as supporting the marketing plan in the Ann Arbor News in July of 2008—shortly before his own daughter made her “jump” to Detroit County Day from the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
More important than where his children go to school is this, though. Online records unearthed by reporter David Jesse, show Trustee Friedman as having a second home in Birmingham, Michigan and one in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Friedman called the potential tax fraud issue a “mistake.” On November 19th, Friedman’s lawyer provided AnnArbor.com with evidence that Friedman had not, in fact, filed documents to make the Birmingham home his primary residence.
It would be a mistake to neglect to note that Friedman refused to tell the reporter from the AnnArbor.com how many nights a week his family spend at their home in Birmingham and how many in Ann Arbor. Even though Friedman has the luxury to simply purchase a $1.8 million dollar “second” home, it’s still time for BOE Trustee and Treasurer Friedman to answer a simple question: “Where do you live?”
Yesterday, Randy Friedman was quoted in a post to AnnArbor.com as telling parents in Ann Arbor they didn’t understand the District finances and that there was “plenty of transparency” concerning how the AAPS spends the $190,000,000 it receives from Ann Arbor taxpayers. Friedman might not be the District’s best spokesman on transparency, alas.
Trustee Deb Mexicotte came to Friedman’s defense and told the reporter from AnnArbor.com that “….parents have to make the best choices for their children, the Ann Arbor Public Schools provides a great education with a great teaching staff.” Mexicotte is right that parents have to make the right decision for their children. Thousands of parents in Ann Arbor make the decision to send their children to the public schools. Three years ago, Randy Friedman and his wife made the decision to send their children to Detroit County Day, and subsequently to buy a second house in Birmingham to make the commute to school easier on their children.
Trustee Randy Friedman has put his colleagues in a very tight spot. Friedman claims in the AnnArbor.com piece that, “he asked fellow school board members whether he should resign, and they told him to stay on the board.” Of course they did, and in doing so, they have opened themselves up to charges of naivete, at the very best, and charges of covering up for Friedman at the worst. Trustee Friedman holds a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. It boggles the mind that he asked legal advice from his pals on the school board. The other members of the Board of Education made a terrible mistake in “helping” Friedman decide whether or not he should resign.
Trustee Friedman should have been open and honest about his choice of schools for his children when he ran for re-election to the School Board in 2008, and when he voted to spend District money on an $75,000 advertising campaign aimed at Ann Arbor parents who send their children to private schools. Ann Arbor parents should hear from Randy Friedman exactly how many nights he spends in Birmingham and how many in Ann Arbor. It’s a simple question: “Where do you live?”
If it turns out that he and his family spend the majority of their time at their second residence in Birmingham, Ann Arbor Board of Education Trustee Randy Friedman should resign.
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