Local News Site Snaps Incumbent’s Political Tighty Whities With Debate Coverage
by P.D. Lesko
The AnnArborChronicle.com recently called out AnnArbor.com politics reporter Ryan Stanton for accepting an AP reporting award for a news piece that misinterpreted available data. In the same piece, the news blog also called out former AA.com Kontent King Tony Dearing for being ethically challenged. It’s uncommon for news sites to slam the competition. However, the piece critical of Stanton’s reporting and Dearing’s ethics was not the first time the AnnArborChronicle.com has lambasted AnnArbor.com. While news sites don’t often criticize each other openly, they do routinely check facts and help voters determine if pols are lying through their teeth, pandering and/or talking out of both sides of their mouths. That, alas is something AnnArbor.com and AnnArborChronicle.com don’t do with any regularity. However, on occasion, there are slip-ups and readers can actually read what most inside baseball players in the Ann Arbor political scene already know: John Hieftje and his Council pals will say just about anything to get re-elected.
Recently, AnnArborChronicle.com caught incumbent Ward 2 Council member Tony Derezinski talking out of both sides of his mouth and wrote it up. This is from a July 18, 2012 post:
For Petersen and Derezinski, the evolution of candidate remarks moderated by Henry revealed a difference of opinion between the two about inclusiveness and the adequacy of outward- and inward-bound communication. Derezinski was keen to stress the importance of being active in the local Democratic Party (to contrast himself with Petersen who has not been active in the local party) and the importance of electing Democratic candidates to the city council. That view appeared inconsistent with the one Derezinski had expressed at a local League of Women Voters forum held earlier in the week. At the LWV forum, he’d said that he’d be in favor of getting rid of the partisan aspect of Ann Arbor city elections – and conduct local elections in a non-partisan way like the vast majority of other Michigan cities do.
AnnArborChronicle.com also snapped Derezinski’s political tighty whities about his campaign website:
In addition to that, he said, just about every councilmember has a website that tries to convey information. [Elected in 2008, Derezinski's website was launched just this year, on Feb. 19, 2012. Petersen had taken out nominating petitions on Feb. 2. When asked by The Chronicle in a telephone interview, Petersen recalled that she had discussed her intention to seek a seat on the council with Ward 3 councilmember Christopher Taylor in late December or January. Derezinski's inaugural post reads in part: "Look for lots of new content in the coming weeks! ... The City Council section will include matters that are being discussed and decided in the various Commissions and Committees and other entities I serve on ..." As of July 18, that section as well as a section on Ward 2 includes only placeholders: "More information coming soon."]
Of course, A2Politico had snapped Tony D.’s political waistband months ago in a March 26, 2012 post that looked at the candidate’s new and improved web site. The site was just as scantily populated with content then as it was months later, when the AnnArborChronicle.com decided to pile on.
Second Ward Council member Tony Derezinski (left) looks tan, even a bit sun-burned these days. It’s a sure sign that the two-term incumbent has been hoofing it around Ward 2 going door-to-door in an effort to beat back Democratic challenger Sally Hart Petersen. If one judges by the number of signs put up on Ward 2 lawns, Petersen is giving Derezinski a run for his seat; there are those political insiders who posit Petersen is even poised to unseat Derezinski. Derezinski, a drone loyal to Borg Queen John Hieftje and his Hive Mind Council Collective, is touting “40 years of experience” in politics. Petersen, on the other hand, is running a campaign that dubs her “A Fresh Voice for Ward 2.” It’s clever marketing-speak for “I’m running against a candidate who’s, well, past his shelf-life expiration date,” something like a block of cheese mold has invaded. Petersen’s tagline screams: “Attention Ann Arbor voters, it’s time for a new SKU on City Council. It’s time to pull Tony D. out of the political dairy cooler.”
Derezinski, meanwhile, is screaming that Sally Hart Petersen isn’t a “real Democrat”; she’s soy Dem. She may look like a Dem. She may talk like a Dem, but look closely and she’s fake Dem, or so Tony D. does his best to infer, imply and insinuate. Sprinkle her into the mix, Derezinski has told voters, and only Dog knows what Sally P. will do to the “Democratic” recipe on Ann Arbor City Council.
The irony is this: Tony D. calling Sally P. (right) a fake Dem is like Gimme Lean calling beef a “meat substitute.” While Derezinski has a paper trail a mile wide of supporting Republican candidates, including Republican Randy Richardville, and taking campaign donations from big wigs in the Michigan Republican Party, Sally Hart Petersen isn’t a local Dem darling of Michigan GOPsters. Tony D. says Petersen is “uninvolved,” in the Ann Arbor Democratic scene. While that may be true, it’s not necessarily a drawback. The former Chair of the AA Dems, Conan Smith, came out in support of Governor Rick Snyder’s nationally criticized Emergency Manager law, saying “we absolutely need it,” in February 2011. Smith, a County Commish, has also steadfastly refused to return taxpayer money an audit revealed he was given in error.
Democrat Derezinski’s 2008 campaign finance forms document donations from then Chair of the Michigan Republican Party Ron Weiser ($500), his wife, Eileen ($500), and Mark Boonstra (now Chair of the Washtenaw County Republican Committee). Dem Rene Greff, co-owner of Arbor Brewing Company, donated to Derezinski in 2008, and went on to donate almost $4,000 to Snyder in 2010. University of Michigan Musical Society Director Ken Fischer also donated to Derezinski in 2008 and to Snyder ($300) in 2010.
Despite having attendance and engagement issues, Derezinski has said he wants to run for mayor in 2014. However, Derezinski is trapped under much of the same political baggage that cost former Ward 2 City Council member Stephen Rapundalo his seat.
For example, months after a 40-year friend sent a letter to the editor of the Ann Arbor News that referred to Derezinski as “a man of great integrity with a strong moral compass,” it was revealed that Derezinski had been misusing email during open Council meetings to make fun of constituents, give out awards for pandering to the public, allegedly violate the Open Meetings Act, and rig votes, according to reporting by the Ann Arbor News. Ann Arbor taxpayers were forced to pay to settle a subsequent lawsuit related to the email scandal.
Derezinski voted to spend $50 million to build the new city hall. He also voted to construct the Fifth Avenue underground parking garage.
In 2010, Derezinski told the Michigan Daily he favored a city income tax. In April 2011, Derezinski told the Ann Arbor Observer that he thought it was “more than fair” for taxpayers to pay a city income tax.
Derezinski has consistently supported the diversion of over $2.2 million in tax dollars (including money from the road millage and utilities) for Public Art. He has also consistently refused to vote to reduce the amount of money given over to the Percent for Art program.
The failed Fuller Road parkland for parking project enjoyed the full support of both Rapundalo and Derezinski. It has been estimated that officials wasted over $4 million dollars in fees to consultants, architects, etc… on an attempt to build a parking garage for the University of Michigan on a river-front parcel of parkland.
Derezinski has consistently voted in favor of cuts to both police and fire staffing levels, as had Rapundalo.
Rapundalo and Derezinski voted to approve the wildly unpopular pedestrian crossing ordinance.
Derezinski, like Rapundalo, pushed to outsource operations of Huron Hills Golf Course, enraging Ward 2 residents who formed a neighborhood group, printed up signs and pressured Council into dropping the plans to hand over operations to the company of a man whom Hieftje had conveniently appointed to the Golf Courses Advisory Task Force.
Rapundalo and Derezinski spent almost 12 months and thousands of dollars of staff time on a failed effort to ban cell phone use while driving.
Judging from the comments posted to AnnArbor.com in response to 2012 coverage of the Derezinski-Petersen match-up, Tony D. is in need of some serious PR help.
In response to a recent letter in support of a candidate in the Ward 1 City Council race, a reader responded:
Sumi should win by a landslide. Mr Sturgis is out of his league. At least we wont have a council member who bends at the whims of the mayor. Go Sumi, youd be a refreshing change instead of the good ole boys network like Tony D who i hope gets a drubbing by Sally Hrt-Petersen. There needs to be a major overhaul at city council.
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