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.

If you’d like to email the members of the Ann Arbor Board of Education? Click here.

Short URL: http://www.a2politico.com/?p=1723

19 Comments for “The Politics of Oops: AAPS BOE Trustee Friedman’s Residency Questions Answered, Partially”

  1. […] The Politics of Oops: AAPS BOE Trustee Friedman’s Residency Questions Answered, Partially […]

  2. Friedman’s attendance at Board meetings is absolutely terrible, and the whole Skyline fiasco resulted in more debt, teachers and staff being spread thinly to avoid hiring new teachers and staff for the high school. Orma Lapp’s removal was a real blow to the district as she was as honest as the day is long and unwilling to go along with the fantasy budget projections whipped up by those who wanted that high school built. George Fornero and his consultant need seemed never to be met. Good riddance to him. We can only hope that when Friedman and Nelson next run they will find themselves opposed.

  3. Friend of a Friend

    The community watched Randy Friedman defend Glenn Nelson (don’t get me started on him) and George Fornero cook the numbers (emails were FOIA-ed and are public) to sell the new high school, even after the mismanagement by and overpayment of consultants. He supported Fornero’s removal of Orma Lapp because she brought up questions about valid fiscal concerns she and others had. Friedman allowed Fornero to remain as superintendent for months after he had accepted a job in Deerfield Park, IL (getting out of Dodge before more stuff hit the fan). Then there was Friedman’s lovely play acting about how shocked and appalled he was to learn of the delay of the school when Fornero announced it. Remember the photo of him head in hands in the Ann Arbor News?

    Friedman’s attendance, as some have pointed out, is bad, even at committee meetings. His philosophical detachment from Ann Arbor (sending his kids elsewhere) and physical detachment (living elsewhere) are secondary reasons for why he might consider resigning. Being part of the inner circle that lied to the community about the district’s finances should be the only reason necessary.

  4. digs,

    If it is personal, why did they give an interview with the Ann Arbor News folks? They wanted to publish this information knowing full well their intention was to move to Birmingham, close to Detroit Country Day school. As I have been saying all along, this pattern of deception has consequences. The AAPS school board suppressed more accurate projections about student population in order to justify building Skyline. This decision will reduce funds to pay teacher salaries which very well could lead to more pink slips than would otherwise be required. If Ms. Friedman has nothing to do with the school board, Mr. Friedman should not be using his wife as a prop to deceive the public.

  5. Mrs. Friedman has nothing to do with the school board. I’m no fan of Randy Friedman, but the link to the very personal story about his wife seems like a stretch.

  6. How is the link to Friedman’s wife uncalled for? It presents an image that is in direct opposition to the issue at hand; the story does not say the kids go to Detroit Country Day school and it gives the incorrect impression the family lives in Ann Arbor.

    Excuse me for being hard on the Friedman family but quite frankly the way the Skyline deal went down looks like a page or two was taken from the Economic Hit Man (EHM) script John Perkins outlined in his book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”. Bogus inflated, projections for the AAPS student population were used to justify spending that was not affordable. Friedman is the Treasurer on the board, it was his job to catch this issue and he did not. The AAPS board has not been held accountable for this; if it takes a scandal to realize some accountability, I’m all for it.

  7. The link to the story about Friedman’s wife was uncalled for. Let’s stick to the issues.

  8. This is an interesting link:

    Apparently, the picture was taken before the purchase of the McMansion in Birmingham.

    • ChuckL,

      You posted the 900th comment to A2Politico! Thanks for frittering away your time on the blog, and sharing your thoughts on the discussions. I wish I could say you’ve won some fabulous prize, but here at A2P we’re working on a limited budget. So, you’ll have to settle for knowing that I’ve added your name to the elite list of 100th commentators who include: David Cahill (twice), John Floyd and, now, ChuckL.

  9. What is the process for removing a school board member? Maybe a credible threat of a recall would do the trick of forcing a resignation.

  10. What does a BOE Trustee do exactly?

  11. So I take it the people of Ann Arbor did not hear from Randy Friedman today concerning his residency in Birmingham and seat on the Ann Arbor school board? It looks like we’re going to see the wagons circling. This is such a bad idea for the other board members. It makes them all look culpable.

  12. In the middle of a financial mess for the district, we find out the treasurer is prone to “mistakes’ that benefit himself financially, and tries to blame his own poor decision on the fact that he asked the other school board members whether he should resign? What I’ve been trying to figure out is why a guy like Friedman ran for the school board in the first place? Any guesses? Anyone know?

  13. Quoting from AnnArbor.com, “Over the summer, Friedman and his wife, Donna, bought the $1.4 million house in Birmingham.” The house is 5800 sq-ft which seems like more than just a place for his kids to crash during the school week. The difference between a homestead and non-homestead is 9.3 mills or about $65,100 per year difference in taxes.

  14. He refused to say how many nights a week he stays in his Birmingham residence? Can there be a redder flag than this that there’s something he’s trying to hide? I’m sure he has worked hard for the BOE (they work for free, practically), but character and honesty count when handling the public’s money. I suspect had he told voters when he last ran for re-election that he’d chosen to send his children to a private school, he might have found himself out of office. He kept these things secret. You can’t keep secrets and have the public trust.

  15. Friend of a Friend

    He will also give talks about how he makes his money.
    See http://www.jewishannarbor.org/page.aspx?id=183138
    He gave a talk on 9/15/08, as CEO of the Harvard Drug Group, “on the topic of business ethics.”

  16. Friedman owns the Harvard Drug Group.

  17. All,

    How does Randy Friedman make his money? He certainly seems to have a lot of it. In my mind, his reason for being there is to oversee the annual $190 million budget. Is it his job to make sure the “right” people get paid? Let’s see if any of these “right” people will come out and defend him or will the cut their loses and set him lose?

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