local politics

Freep considers Michigan mergers

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I've long counted "too many local governments" among Michigan's issues - balkanization not only prevents us from reacting effectively and efficiently to new challenges, but also leads to needless competition and duplication of effort. Witness, for example, Ypsilanti Township's new master plan, which discusses the idea of creating a "town center", as if it hasn't had such a thing for 150 years now, a mere two miles north of where the plan proposes one. (This is hardly a unique case - it seems every township in Michigan is looking to misapply the memes of smart growth, new urbanism, and the "creative class" in a cargo cult effort to build artificial "town centers" from whole cloth. These efforts typically both fail to build the kind of truly attractive downtowns of an organically grown community - compare Cherry Hill Village to Chelsea - while also encroaching further on the "rural feel" that township residents often say they value. While is would be more to their interest to combine efforts with adjoining cities, to ensure that they can offer both a real, living center as well as preserving the open space and agricultural areas of the outer edges of the Twps, the artificial blind spots of jurisdiction forbid this.)

Today's Freep dedicates an impressive amount of space to the issue, focusing on the Royal Oak/Ferndale cluster of communities - 10 local governments within the a survey township's 36 square mile confines. Worth a read, now that I've primed you with my opinions on the issue.

City Council on the Web

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For some time back, Scott has been pondering the possibility of hosting A2 City Council meetings on the web somehow. The concept is also discussed on the teeter with the other Scott. Certainly the idea is cool (especially Pop Up City Council), but I have my doubts about some of the more extreme hopes being placed in it.

In Ypsilanti, the civic technicians are a little more experimentalist. Steven Cherry posted occasional clips of meetings, alongside the very awesome automated police scanner recordings. Ypsi Councilman-elect Brian Robb has been pushing the idea of podcasting audio feeds of the Council meetings, which, as he notes, are frustratingly not available on CTN.

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