At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, a range of topics — from a new state law to the city’s planned deer cull— were discussed.
During the meeting, Council rebuked the state government of Michigan for a law that the city claims restricts its right to inform voters, voting unanimously in support of a resolution opposing the State Legislature’s Public Act 269, which Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed on January 7.
Public Act 269 prohibits local officials from publicly disclosing information about ballot proposals within 60 days of an election. The bill has sparked debate throughout Michigan, with opponents raising concerns that it will bar public entities — such as cities and school districts — from distributing factual information about ballot initiatives.
During Tuesday’s council meeting, Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor emphasized the impact this act has on the voter.
“(Public Act 269) would prevent factual communication about matters of communal interest from municipal bodies and elected officials, and thereby impedes voter knowledge in the voting booth,” Taylor said. “It warrants repeal.”
Councilmember Graydon Krapohl (D–Ward 4), who also opposes the law, emphasized the significance of passing the resolution.
“I don’t want to be known as the king of resolutions opposing state actions, but our voice does matter when it comes to issues like this in Lansing,” Krapohl said, adding that Ann Arbor would be joining numerous other cities in protesting the law.
City Council also heard public comments from Ann Arbor residents who opposed the city’s deer cull — a group of Ann Arbor residents who support the city’s plan to kill a portion of Ann Arbor’s deer population — as has been typical at recent meetings.
In addition to criticizing councilmembers, multiple anti-cull activists also criticized the pro-cull group Washtenaw Citizens for Ecological Balance, accusing it of having unfair influence on the council.
Ann Arbor resident Lorraine Shapiro pointed to recently disclosed e-mail exchanges between councilmembers and members of WC4EB to argue that they had undue influence over other citizens when the council was still deliberating over the cull in 2015.
“It is apparent that WC4EB has privileged access to councilmembers that I and others do not,” Shapiro said, referring to the e-mails. “We are being governed behind a cloak of secrecy.”
In an interview with the Daily on Monday, three members of WC4EB dismissed these accusations as absurd.
WC4EB member Bernie Banet said the communications his association had with members of City Council were completely normal and that the accusations were an attempt to distort reality.
“All groups were communicating with council as we have a constitutional right to do, we have every right to petition our government,” Banet said. “The notion that there were some improper connections or magical power, other than the information that we provided is kind of laughable.”