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2017 Council e-communication

Media Reports

The Ann Arbor Independent used FOIA to obtain emails, Tweets and text messages sent over several weeks prior to the April 17 City Council meeting between a trio of Council members and Caleb Poirier, founder of tent community Camp Take Notice and a member of the M.I.S.S.I.O.N. Board of Directors. In those electronic communications, Chuck Warpehoski (D-Ward 5), Chip Smith (D-Ward 5) and Zachary Ackerman (D-Ward 3) strategized with Poirier to bring “hundreds and hundreds” of individuals, including homeless individuals to whom M.I.S.S.I.O.N. provides services, to the Council meeting in a staged and scripted show of support for Council members’ votes in favor of the $10 million sale of the publicly-owned Library Lot to Chicago developer Core Spaces in order for the developer to build a luxury hotel/apartment building.

Public records released by the City of Ann Arbor show that Ward 3 Council member Zachary Ackerman (D), during four public meetings examined in 2017 (Jan. 17, Feb. 21, Mar. 13 and Mar. 16) used his city-owned computer and the city’s computer network to browse Facebook and Twitter for a total of six hours. Ackerman browsed Facebook and Twitter analytics during each meeting.

Like Ackerman, records showed Council member Julie Grand (D-Ward 3) used her city-owned computer to send emails during a public meeting. More public records are being sought to determine the extent of the Ward 3 Council members’ use of email in secret as well as the extent of Council member Grand’s use of her city-owned computer to browse social media during public meetings.

Public records turned over to the The Ann Arbor Independent show that during a sample of four public meetings examined over the first three months of 2017, Ward 5 Council members Charles “Chip” Smith (D) and Chuck Warpehoski (D) collectively spent more than 14 hours on Facebook and Twitter. The two elected officials sent a combined 800 page requests to the two social media sites during the same four Council meetings. Warpehoski sent 396 page requests to Facebook during a Mar. 13, 2017 meeting at which budgets totaling more than $35 million were presented to Council by the Downtown Development Authority, the Pension Board and the LDFA, among other city-controlled entities.

The council voted 7-4 to ban posting on social media during meetings.

Mayor Christopher Taylor, Julie Grand, Chuck Warpehoski and Kirk Westphal were in favor of allowing use of social media during meetings, but they were outnumbered by council members who called it rude, improper and a distraction.

The seven against it were Mike Anglin, Sabra Briere, Jack Eaton, Graydon Krapohl, Sumi Kailasapathy, Stephen Kunselman and Jane Lumm.