January 20, 2022

Can you guess what is pictured in the photo above? Click the image above for the answer and more.

Look on the bright side—people have something to talk about besides the pandemic. On Saturday, the U-M’s regents voted unanimously to fire president Mark Schlissel for engaging in a romantic relationship with a subordinate.

Though the vote was private, they posted their letter terminating his employment online—along with emails they’d received from an unidentified tipster. Though none could be described as steamy, they strongly suggested a more-than-professional attachment—one that, they wrote, “materially breached [his] obligation to act in a manner consistent with promoting the dignity and reputation of the University.” 

One student, among those who gathered outside the university president's house on South University after the announcement, put it differently. “I started reading the emails,” he told the Michigan Daily. “And I realized that the former president of U of M is apparently a middle schooler in his vernacular, but also in his flirting attempt.”

The regents had been at odds with Schlissel for some time, and he had already agreed to step down next year. While they accelerate their search for a successor, they’ve brought back his predecessor, Mary Sue Coleman, to return as interim president.

"I want to express my deep appreciation to all of you during a difficult time for U-M,” Coleman wrote in a mass email Monday. “I know some will feel a sense of loss."

The university did take a step toward putting one controversy in the past: it reached a $490 million settlement with about 1,050 individuals who alleged they were abused by the late U-M physician Robert Anderson.
James M. Manheim

The News...Briefly

Washtenaw County reported 512 cases of Covid-19, seven hospitalizations, and seven deaths in the twenty-four hours ending Wednesday at 10 a.m., down from 754 the previous day. The weekly positivity rate was 20.7 percent, down from a high of more than 30. Macomb County reported that concentrations of the virus found in sewage were dropping sharply. In no way are we out of the woods, but there are some positive indicators.

In the face of Omicron, the state has cut back on contact tracing,  Bridge Michigan reportsWashtenaw County Health Department spokesperson Susan Ringler-Cerniglia emails that the new guidance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services makes official what overwhelmed local health departments were already doing: focussing contract tracing efforts on crowded settings like schools, long-term care facilities, and prisons. 

Meanwhile, big local institutions are doing their bit. The Ann Arbor YMCA  is offering free vaccine clinics on Monday, January 24, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 26, from 9 a.m. to noon, and Saturday, January 29, from 9 a.m. to noon. Bring a photo ID, and preregistration is suggested but not required. WWJ radio reports that Meijer is offering free delivery on orders over $35 until January 29. And you can now order free at-home test kits from the Post Office. A federal website, covidtests.gov, is coming on line as well.
Did you love the downtown Ann Arbor street closures last summer? Hate them? You can weigh in on which blocks you'd like to see closed, if any, for carless and socially distanced restaurant and retail this coming summer: Main Street Ann Arbor is running a survey. Responses close Monday, January 24.

Main Street Ann Arbor wants to know what you think about closing downtown streets again next summer. Use the link above to take part. Photo: Mark Bialek

The UMS's loss may be the Fed's gain. President Joe Biden nominated MSU economist Lisa Cook to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors last Friday. Cook, who is known for her research on how racial violence has affected African American invention and innovation, is co-chair of the University Musical Society Board. Crain's Detroit Business 
Local activists closed Bemis Rd. with a protest on Sunday against alleged abuses at the Huron Valley Correctional Facility. Former employees say they've seen a culture of "rape punishment," distribution of drugs to inmates in an opioid addiction program, and denial of medical attention to whistle-blowers, two of whom lost their jobs. Detroit News
The Ann Arbor Art Center's Artini restaurant and bar crawl fundraiser is offering in-person and at-home options this year. At-home registrations include six different canned cocktails, with two pours per can, all necessary garnishes, a curated tasting guide, and access to an event page filled with engaging content and contests.
In further news of gustatory consolations, #shopchelseamich merchants have announced their annual Chocolate Extravaganza on Saturday, February 12—just in time for Valentine's Day. On hand in downtown Chelsea will be chocolate makers, bakers, "Home Dome" igloos, a Juggling Savant, and pop-up shops and special displays from local stores. There's a penguin egg hunt for kids ages 2–7. Chelsea Guardian 


The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation and the Detroit nonprofit Michigan Women Foward have launched an “Endurance Loan Program” to support women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs of color in Washtenaw County. The loans range from $2,500 to $20,000, carry a 7 percent interest rate, and come with free technical assistance sessions. Available grants could defray up to 50 percent of the loan. Want to apply? 
The Big House 5K will return on Sunday, April 10. The race, which finishes on the fifty-yard line at Michigan Stadium, will benefit six local nonprofits this year: Fostering Futures, Hire MI Vet, the Legacy Land Conservancy, Non Profit Enterprise at Work (NEW), Riverside Arts Center in Ypsi, and the Women's Center of Southeast Michigan. There's also a virtual race. You can sign up here.

Lauren McHale, artist for the Wish You Knew Mental Health Campaign, shines in this self-portrait on W. Huron. The campaign, funded by the Washtenaw County Mental Health and Public Safety Preservation Millage, aims to encourage community support and conversations around youth mental health.  Photo Credit: LR Nuñez

Marketplace Changes

Night owls can now get a hot pizza from a vending machine at 1214 South University. PizzaForno offers a pie cooked in three minutes after you order on a touch screen and pay by credit card. MLive 
The Broken Egg closed early in the pandemic and will not reopen. It was one of the last old-style breakfast-and-lunch diners downtown. The owner posted on Facebook: “It is with a heavy heart that I bring you the news that The Broken Egg will not be reopening. I appreciate your support for all of these years and will miss seeing you! I have shared the recipes for all of your favorite foods with my family over at The Village Kitchen! Please support local businesses.”

The "I'm quitting" wave hit the Maple Village Dollar Tree with unusual suddenness on Wednesday. Photo by Esme_to_you on Reddit.

Things to Do

20 Thursday: Be there for the Purple Rose Theatre Company’s world premiere of “Under Ceege.” Lynch Travis directs award-winning Inkster playwright Jeffry Chastang’s drama set in an aging Detroit housing project, where a 71-year-old lifelong resident bumps heads with her 49-year-old son named Ceege as they gamble on change, each other, and the daily lottery. Cast: Sandra Love Aldridge & Jonathan West. 8 p.m., Purple Rose Theatre, 137 Park St., Chelsea. Tickets $25-51 in advance here and by phone, and (if available) at the door. Discounts available for students, seniors, teachers, military personnel, and groups. 433–7673. 

21 Friday: Get a glimpse of the wider universe as you peer through the observatory and rooftop telescopes at Angell Hall Observatory’s Open House, presented by the U-M Student Astronomical Society. Also, short astronomy presentations by club members. 8-10 p.m., 5th floor rooftop observatory, Angell Hall (enter through Haven Hall on the Diag side of the building). Free. Masks required. 764–3440. 

22 Saturday: Stomp your feet to some authentic bluegrass by The RFD Boys, longtime local favorites who have appeared in numerous festivals and on the cover of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. Their shows blend top-notch musicianship with funny between-songs dialogue. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2019 by adding a new guitarist-mandolinist, Dan Roehrig, and releasing the album Still Delivering. 8 p.m. $11 at the door only. The Ark, 316 S. Main. Tickets are sold in advance at the Michigan Union Ticket Office and here, and at the door. Note: Proof of vaccination and masks required. 761–1451. 

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