Local Politico to City’s Voters: You’re “Xenophobic,” “Old,” “Selfish” and “Stingy.”
by P.D. Lesko
DDA Board member and former Second Ward City Council member Joan Lowenstein (right) is having a really tough time of it, politically speaking. Should you care? Absolutely. It’s a better show than “Real Housewives,” but with some of same characters, crazy plot twists, and zany attempts to make the 1 percent look like they’re have the same concerns as the other 99 percent of us. Plus, you don’t need a television to watch. Just pick up the December copy of The Ann magazine, watch the video below, or read some of the articles linked throughout this piece. It’s JoLo uncensored and unedited.
Her story starts in 2008: Second Ward City Council member Lowenstein wanted to be the next 15th District Court judge. She gave up her seat on City Council to run. She lost. Before she ran, however, she voted in support of the fantastical new 15th District Court facility that “brought the police force out of the wretched, moldy basement of the old City Hall,” she writes in The Ann. Oddly, Lowenstein is ignorant of the fact that the basement of the new city hall was recently revealed to be just as wretched and moldy 8 months after a February 2011 flood damaged the police officers’ refurbished locker area.
Facts are for the 99 percent, evidently.
Then, after her unsuccessful run for District Court, no doubt because of her extensive experience as a downtown merchant at her law firm where she practices libel law (whether by libeling others, or simply conducting sparsely attended libeling/cooking classes), she was appointed to sit on the Board of the Downtown Development Authority.
It was after her appointment to the DDA Board that Joan Lowenstein started to become downright dotty—as in Washtenaw County Commissioner Barbara Levin Bergman-argues-for-hiring-sexual-predators dotty.
In April of 2010 when JoLo spoke in support of a development project, she stepped forward to urge City Council members not to give in to the 5th Ward “sulkers.”
Shortly thereafter, Lowenstein suggested the DDA “control” parking rates so that her friends on City Council didn’t have to take any political heat. In response, Third Ward Council member Stephen Kunselman dubbed the unelected DDA Board on which Lowenstein sat, a “shadow government.” Kunselman said after a May 2011 meeting of City Council: “I have no confidence in the DDA board. Their obstinate demands for authority over setting rates and hours illustrates to me they’ve just become addicted and dependent upon parking revenues for their own purposes, and they’re not necessarily interested in the public health, safety and welfare of our community.”
In January of 2011, Lowenstein prepared a short video to show at the DDA’s Annual Board retreat. “Parking” is the star of the video, and the rainbow bear, “parks,” is the not-so-bright sidekick in need of “instruction” (i.e. parking represents you, Laddy Buck).
In summer 2011 Ward 2 resident Lowenstein tried to throw her political clout around in Wards 3 and 5. Each of the candidates she endorsed and supported financially went on to get thrashed, politically.
In November of 2011, Lowenstein endorsed her former Ward 2 Council colleague Stephen Rapundalo in his race against independent candidate, former Second Ward City Council member Jane Lumm. It was the kiss of death—Rapundalo went on to get, you guessed it, thrashed in the November election.
One month later, almost to the day, Lowenstein published her own personal Diary of a Mad Housewife in the December 2011 issue of The Ann magazine in which she calls Ann Arbor voters, well, old, stupid and Republican.
Rapundles, as critics call him, couldn’t have been thrashed by his opponent because he lied about her voting record on his campaign web site, or because he is a closet Republican finally outed by every news site in town for parading as a Democrat. He couldn’t have lost because he shot himself the foot by accidentally sending an email to AnnArbor.com which read, in part, “As for the Mallet’s Creek project — be sure to involve me in any meetings, etc., if there any, before the election — just so I look like I’m engaged.”
“Just so I look like I’m engaged?” Could Stephen Rapundalo have said anything more damaging? Yes, he could have supported a poorly thought-out pedestrian crossing ordinance. He could have wasted months on a failed ordinance to ban plastic bags. He could have enraged constituents by bashing the city’s labor unions like a Canadian carbon copy of Mitt Romney. Oh, he did all that.
According to JoLo, these things have nothing to do with why Stephen Rapundalo lost. No. Baby Boomer Joan Lowenstein blames Ann Arbor voters whom, she writes, have become “conservative,” “old,” “selfish” and “Republican.” Lowenstein would have us believe that Ann Arbor is filled with xenophobic misanthropes who are inexplicably against everything the Hieftje-Hive-Mind-Borg-Collective on City Council want to buy, do, give away or build.
Worst of all, Joan Lowenstein wants readers of The Ann to believe that political differences are “pernicious,” and that resistance is futile. Former Third Ward power-broker Leigh Greden’s loss in 2009, and Stephen Rapundalo’s loss this past November may look like unrelated political incidents. They’re not. Some of the most powerful politicians in the city, county and state could not save Leigh Greden in 2009; the same people couldn’t save Stephen Rapundalo in 2011.
In her piece in The Ann Baby Boomer JoLo pines for “young, intelligent, industrious civic-minded people” with the embarrassing ache and sly longing of a cougar who sits back, sips a martini, and stalks a shirtless Noah “Puck” Puckerman as he cleans her swimming pool. The Ann’s editor allows Lowenstein to misuse his magazine as a platform to insult and bully —to chastise and cajole readers into giving her friends and former colleagues on City Council that which they rarely deserve: the public trust.
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