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Downtown Area Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) Calls Resolution to Rein in DDA Board “Irrational.” Records Reveal All CAC Board Appointments Expired in 2012.

by P.D. Lesko

The Downtown Area Citizens Advisory Council (CAC). Sounds official, right? It is supposed to be a group of no more than 15 mayoral appointees who, by Council resolution, live within the downtown area and “advise the DDA and City Council with regard to implementation of the Downtown Development Plan and Tax Increment Financing Plan.” Terms are three years. Members serve when appointed by the mayor and confirmed by City Council.

The reality is that the CAC situation has made a mockery of previous Councils’ oversight of boards and commissions. The CAC has been used as a bully pulpit to enthusiastically support and protect the DDA Board and its agenda from public criticisms and from criticisms leveled by Council members. In 2012, there were just three members of the CAC, Herbert and Jane Kaufer, and the “Chair” of the group, Ray Detter, a retired University of Michigan lecturer. After October 2012, all of the mayor’s appointments to the CAC had expired. Despite this fact, Detter continued to speak regularly at meetings of the Downtown Development Authority and City Council on behalf of the CAC “board” and “membership.” The many DDA and City Council meetings at which Detter spoke and claimed to be the chair of the CAC were reported on by AnnArbor.com and chronicled by the AnnArborChronicle.com.

photoIn November 2012, a month after his appointment to the CAC had expired, Detter was quoted in AnnArbor.com as speaking before City Council as the “chairman of the Downtown Citizens Advisory Council.”

In December 2012, the AnnArborChronicle.com, in the course of chronicling a DDA meeting, posted this: “Ray Detter, speaking for the downtown citizens advisory council, updated the board on another major development – 413 East Huron.” When this was written, in reality, there were no members on the CAC, and Detter, no longer a member, had no authority to speak for the CAC.

In April, when the city’s Historic District Commission came out against the proposed development at 413 E. Huron (near Detter’s home), AnnArbor.com described Ray Detter as “chairman of the Downtown Area Citizens Advisory Council.” Detter told Ryan Stanton, “On behalf of the Downtown Area CAC, I would simply say that we are very pleased to see the Historic District Commission give support to the stated positions of the DDA’s Connecting William Street initiative as well as the Downtown Design Guidelines Review Board.”

While the two news blogs appear to have been hoodwinked, the fact is that both Ryan Stanton, AnnArbor.com’s government reporter and David Askins, Editor of the AnnArborChronicle.com, repeatedly told their respective readers that Ray Detter was speaking at public meetings as the representative of an important downtown citizens group. Had Detter been referred to as a resident of Ann Arbor who spoke regularly at those meetings, his “advice” and input would certainly have been construed very differently. Instead, readers were led to believe Ray Detter was speaking on behalf of other downtown citizens. He was not. He had no authority to do so as he was no longer a member of the CAC.

When A2Politico brought the question of the CAC membership to the attention of the Ann Arbor City Clerk, Jacqueline Beaudry, one of her several subsequent emails reported that Detter was applying for reappointment to the CAC. Detter has served on the CAC for 28 years running. It’s no wonder talk of term limits might make him a bit cranky.

The establishment of Ann Arbor’s CAC was a state legal requirement associated with establishing a Downtown Development Authority. The Downtown CAC webpage offers this description:

How Established: Council resolution approved August 16, 1982. Revised by R-44-2-05 changing the title, revising the length of terms, and number of members. Purpose: This group of citizens living in the DDA area is established to advise the DDA and City Council with regard to implementation of the Downtown Development Plan and Tax Increment Financing Plan. Special Qualifications for Appointment: Resident of the DDA area. Individuals who were residents of the DDA District upon appointment may remain on the CAC or be reappointed to the CAC if they move to a new residence on a block bisected by the DDA boundary line or a block abutting the DDA boundary line. Length of Terms: 3 years. Meeting Times and Frequency: This is a permanent committee that meets the 1st Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. in the 4th Floor Conference Room of City Hall, 301 E. Huron. Membership/Committee Composition: No more than 15 members. Contact Info: Raymond Detter, 120 N. Division St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104, 734-668-7027.

In February 2005, the City Council passed a resolution that amended the 1982 DACAC resolution to provide the following:

RESOLVED, City Council approves the following changes to Citizens Advisory Council as follows:
· The official name of committee shall be the “Downtown Area Citizens Advisory Council”
· Applicants for appointment to the CAC must live within the DDA District. Individuals who were residents of the DDA District upon appointment may remain on the CAC or be reappointed to the CAC if they move to a new residence on a block bisected by the DDA boundary line or a block abutting the DDA boundary line.
· Terms will be three years.
The number of CAC members will be limited to 15.

So, who is Ray Detter and why was he reappointed to the CAC for over two decades instead of any one of the other thousands of residents who live downtown? Either you know the name Ray Detter, or you don’t. Either you merit an invitation to his annual Old Fourth Ward party where you can rub elbows with a host of other politicos, their pals, donors and their appointees, or you don’t. Detter is politically-connected, but he is also enamored of being politically connected—a political pilot fish, if you will, a mutualist. Look at the campaign finance forms of Council members, and you will find that every year Ray Detter coughs up multiple donations, primarily to Hive Mind-backed candidates. In 2012, he supported Ward 1 candidate Eric Sturgis, Ward 2 incumbent Tony Derezinski, Ward 4 incumbent Margie Teall and Ward 5 candidate Chuck Warpehoski.

It is because he is a deft political pilot fish that certain Council members are playing Twister over the proposed student high rise a developer wants to plop on a small parcel on the corner of Huron and Division (413 East Huron). Detter’s historic home sits about half a block behind what would be a huge apartment complex tall enough to blot out the little sun that reaches his yard in between the stately trees that shade his property.  Detter, speaking as the chair of the Downtown Citizens Advisory Council (CAC), has been generally in support of downtown density, and vocal in support of outsized developments built along the edges of downtown neighborhoods. Until now. Now, the proposed downtown density will shade his garden and block his views. He wants the city to down zone the parcel and stop the development.

However, Detter has not confined his comments at DDA and City Council meetings to “advice with regard to implementation of the Downtown Development Plan and Tax Increment Financing Plan.” In April 2013, six months after his appointment to CAC had expired, Detter spoke as the “Chair” of the CAC and on behalf of the CAC’s board “members” at a Downtown Development Authority meeting. He complained that a proposed City Council resolution to impose term limits on DDA Board members and slow the group’s capture of tax dollars was an “irrational attack” on the DDA by the Council members sponsoring the resolution (Ward 1 Council member Sumi Kailasapathy and Ward 3 Council member Stephen Kunselman).

When asked if he’d been aware that his appointment to the CAC had expired when he’d attacked the Council members’ resolution as “irrational,” Detter responded with a genial email that included a friendly invitation to anyone living within the DDA boundary to join the CAC. The problem, of course, is that the city’s Charter doesn’t give Ray Detter the power to make appointments to the CAC. It’s not a private club, but  has been run like one since 2008. Membership in the group, by resolution of Council, is granted by mayoral appointment, and confirmation of City Council.

Some of the appointments of the people listed by the City Clerk’s office as serving on the CAC Board expired as long ago as 2008. Ann Arbor City Clerk Jacqueline Beaudry responded to A2Politico’s inquiries promptly and contacted the DDA’s Executive Director Susan Pollay, via email, to ask about the membership of the CAC. Pollay responded with a roster of CAC “members” and an offhand comment that the DDA has little to do with the group. Pollay, it would appear, was unaware that all of the CAC members’ appointments had expired. She is, perhaps, also unaware of the state law and Council ordinance that requires the existence of a CAC from which the DDA will solicit citizen input on downtown development and tax increment financing plans.

Pollay’s list of CAC “members”—from whom the Ann Arbor Charter requires the DDA and City Council to hear regularly— included several people who were not, in fact, members of CAC.

The City Clerk contacted John Hiefje’s office for information on the CAC, then updated the city’s webpage with the correct information, including the names, appointment dates, and appointment expiration dates for each former member:

Raymond Detter    start date 10/15/1984     end date 10/19/2012

Herbert Kaufer      start date 5/21/2001       end date 10/19/2012

Jane Kaufer           start date 5/21/2001       end date 10/19/2012

Jim Kern                start date 2/22/2000       end date 7/21/2011

Sue Kern                 start date 2/22/2000       end date 7/21/2011

Marsha Chamberlin     start date 5/5/2008       end date 5/5/2011

John Chamberlin          start date 5/5/2008       end date 5/5/2011

Joan French          start date 7/3/2006         end date 7/3/2009

Kathleen Nolan    start date 5/21/2001       end date 7/21/2011

Susan Nenadic     start date 10/17/2005       end date 10/17/2010

The members of the DDA Board have been content to hear from Ray Detter regularly because he routinely tells them what they want to hear and. It’s infinitely better if the criticism of a resolution to impose term limits on the DDA Board comes from the “Downtown Area Citizens Advisory Council,” rather than any of the hugely unpopular DDA Board members. However, regularly misleading the general public and the media into believing the CAC is an entity that represents downtown residents, is more evidence that City Council not only needs to rein in the DDA Board, but needs to exercise much more stringent oversight over all the city’s boards and commissions.

A good place to begin would be for the City Council to direct that the 15 openings on the CAC be widely advertised. Then, Council members will need to press John Hieftje so that he offers up applicants from a much larger political gene pool, not his usual cast of cronies. It’s time for the DDA Board members to hear from a wider racial, socio-economic and political spectrum of downtown citizens, including students, young professionals, people with children, minorities and retirees. As for Ray Detter, he has had 28 years to curry favor and peddle his particular brand of “advice.” His behavior in purporting to represent the CAC months after his term had ended smacks of entitlement and comes dangerously close to deliberately deceiving the public. He deserves thanks for his long service, and should join the DDA Board members who are being given the opportunity to “retire” when their current terms end.

Short URL: http://www.a2politico.com/?p=14980

22 Comments for “Downtown Area Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) Calls Resolution to Rein in DDA Board “Irrational.” Records Reveal All CAC Board Appointments Expired in 2012.”

  1. Maybe an up-and-coming headline should read, “Is the CDC Aware a New Plague May Have Hit Ann Arbor? First Case Reported – UM Intellectual Ray Detter Turns Into a Busy-Body. City Dreads, Who Will be Next?”

  2. Tonight the City Council set over the vote on re-appointment to May 20th.

    There was City Council discussion about recruiting students and others to fill all of the council positions.

  3. Nice discussion in Ann Arbor Chronicle today over the Detter fiasco.

  4. Some of the expired appointees placed on the City Council Agenda for the 13th of May iclude persons who have not been duly constituted since 2008.

    Have they filed re-applications?

    Have they attended any recent CAC meetings?

    • @Junior, I filed a FOIA seeking the minutes from the Council meeting where Ray Detter was appointed by Hieftje in 2008 and confirmed by Council (which would then have included DDA Board member Joan Lowenstein as the Ward 2 Council member). I wasn’t able to find them online. I suspect Detter was never reappointed in 2008 or confirmed by City Council. Council members should be encouraged to resist the Hieftje’s efforts to “reappoint” Detter, who has served on the Committee for over 2 decades. Council should demand that the 15 openings for the CAC are widely advertised. It’s time that the DDA be forced to stop using the CAC as a stooge. What has gone on with this committee is a mockery of citizen input, and a perfect example of Hieftje’s cronyism.

      • The May 13th City Council meeting is one that has been “recessed” on motion of Marcia Higgins and is a mere continuation of the May 6th 2013 meeting. There is no Public Commentary period scheduled for the May 13th Agenda that precedes the Agenda matter of re-appointment of the ten CAC “members” you described above. The only Public Commentary period is that scheduled for the end of the meeting, which cannot affect City Council vote on a re-appointment matter that precedes it.

        I seriously question the legality of this conduct as it appears it may violate the Open Meetings Act.This is because the public has a right to give public comment on a matter before a vote is taken. A circuit court can void an act of City Council that violates the Open Meetings Act.

        I only learned about the DACAC re-appointment issue being added as an Agenda item when I saw it in the Ann Arbor Chronicle article covering the meeting alluded to my public comment.

        • @Mark, can you explain how you think it violates the Open Meetings Act?

          • The right to attend and address a public body is governed by the Open Meetings Act under MCL 15.263 and subject to reasonable rules and regulations of that public body. My arguments that it is wholly unreasonable for City Council to amend its Agenda during a meeting after I raise an issue and schedule it for vote without an opportunity for intervening Public Commentary; such conduct of City Council violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the Open Meetings Act.

  5. Check out the May 6, 2013 City Council meeting as reported on in the Ann Arbor Chronicle.

    I brought the matter to the attention of City Council and Ray Detter coincidentally happen to be in Council chambers. Citizens began approaching him and he stated he had not seen the A2politico.com article featuring him, but stated that his seat was current until it was renewed.

    Sabra Briere asked how this could happen – wasn’t there procedures in place to prevent inadvertent expirations? – and the Mayor replied that the major municipal commissions have well-known expiration dates.

    In the end the agenda was amended to include a re-appointment vote for DACAC members at the next City Council meeting on May 13th.

    • @Mark, thanks for the update. I saw the meeting and you can be SURE Sabra Briere and Ray Detter saw the A2Politico piece. Detter mentioned his appointment at the last DDA meeting and Briere brought it up at Council. The appointments should be advertised and the committee expanded to include a wider variety of downtown residents.

  6. The AnnArborChronicle.com posted a piece dated May 4th about the DDA where David Askins reports Ray Detter as the “chair” the CAC. The AnnArborChronicle.com reports this: Ray Detter gave his monthly report on behalf of the downtown citizens advisory council. He invited everyone to an annual downtown potluck party that he helps to host at his home. [The two addresses on the invitation are 120 and 126 N. Division.] This year the potluck falls on June 6, starting at 6:30 p.m. Detter then described what the downtown citizens advisory council is. Members are appointed by the mayor and city council, he said. The only qualification is to live in the DDA district. The group meets in city hall, typically on the day before the full meetings of the DDA board. Detter reported to the board that there are 11 active members of the CAC, and there’s a limit of 15. Detter announced that if anyone wants to join, the council would be glad to have them.

    11 active members? Is Ray Detter on drugs? Is the AnnArborchronicle.com’s writer on drugs? The city website shows all of the members, including Detter, as no longer serving and lists TEN people.

    Thanks for writing this piece. The AnnArborchronicle.com should get it’s digital head out of the digital sand.

    • @A2Dem the AnnArborchronicle.com takes a lot of not-so-digital money from the DDA (http://annarborchronicle.com/advertisers-with-the-ann-arbor-chronicle/) for advertising. Is this why the blog chose to overlook the fact that on the city’s website there are no active members of the CAC, including Detter? Maybe. The site grosses $100K per year, so losing $, perhaps several thousand dollars per month, would be a big deal. PLUS those members on the DDA could easily tell their friends to stop advertising: the Michigan Theater (Executive Dir. Russ Collins sits on the DDA Board), Main Street Area Association, etc. In fact, about 1/2 of the AAChronicle.com’s advertising comes from businesses with ties to members of the DDA Board. I’d say Dave Askins and his wife are laying down with dogs and their reporting on the DDA has a bad case of fleas as a result.

  7. Jerry Gilbert

    This shows me that the statutory system of “checks and balances” is not in place here since Detter is just a stooge for pro-development business interests rather than the interests of loval downtown area-residents, however Ray does take an aggressive NIMBY-like attitude when deveopment encroaches his immediate surroundings.

    If Mr Detter is not even cognizant that his term of office expired six months ago, then his re-application should be rejected.

    Sue Pollay’s comments about the CAC illustrate her lack of knowledge of the organizational structure and relationship between the DDA and CAC.

  8. It seems that the “Citizens Advisory Council” does not exist as a “manned” entity anymore and therefore cannot function until the vacancies can be filled by appointment duly made by the appropriate body.

    This situation is absolutely appalling that board memberships would expire without arranging for re-appointment of expiring members or replacement with new appointees. When I have sat as a member of a public body in the past, I was aware of my term expiration and was reminded by the chairperson of that body when the expiration date approached so I could re-apply if I so wished.

    The expiration of the seats of the members of the DAAC means that any resolutions passed by this group are void for lack of a quorum. I am not sure if the Council has any limited executive powers, but any such actions taken without a quorum would have no legal force or effect.

    The City Attorney Stephen Postema should also have been monitoring the activities of DDAC to ensure they were in compliance with the enabling legislation and all other amending ordinances governing the Council’s operation. This is yet another operational failure of his office as well.

    DAAC cannot legally continue to meet as a public body and conduct business without duly-constituted members.

    I thank Ms. Lesko for bringing this sorry state of affairs to public attention.

    • Just checked the official city website and it seems there is a Downtown Area Citizens Advisory Council meeting for next May 30th.

      Will they actually hold it?

      Is DAC or DCAC the proper abbreviation/acronym?

      • @John, the group is called the CAC. Another commenter said Ray Detter is claiming that there are 11 members of the CAC. He also pointed out that to serve on the CAC one had to be appointed by Hizzoner and confirmed by Council. I’d like to see the minutes of the City Council meeting where the appointments of Detter’s imaginary fellow members of the CAC were confirmed. This is a major embarrassment, and the DDA and Detter are desperately trying to pretend it doesn’t exist.

    • Stephen Postema is having a bad couple of months. First he gets caught double-dipping on his car allowance, then they call out the National Guard to exonerate him. Now this? Looks like it’s time for City Council to start looking for a new City Attorney.

    • @John, thanks for the kind words! I didn’t realize that it is Postema’s responsibility to monitor the city’s boards and commissions. Thanks for that tip.

  9. Mt Detter needs to move along…..Its a new Ann Arbor and nobody cares about his fourth ward festival. Thanks P. Lesko for keeping it real!

    • Amen. After 28 years, this fellow has served his city and we need to hear from some different downtown residents. After 28 years the demographics of downtown have changed so much! How many restaurants and shops are gone? How many new student highrises? How many chain shops have moved in? It’s evidently a requirement that the DDA hear from this group, but it is not a requirement that Ray Detter lead it.

      • Ray Detter just appeared as a speaker before the DDA and described the CAC meeting that had occurred the previous day. This was reported in yesterday’s Ann Arbor Chronicle edition.

        The CAC apparently met as a public body despite the fact that the CAC has had no duly constituted members since October of 2012.

  10. money&buildings

    Many, many thanks for being the A2 media that reports what’s ACTUALLY going on.
    Hopefully, a2politico influences the others to dig deeper.

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