January 7, 2021

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This week

The layers of irony in the scenes of white protesters screaming for justice, freedom, and fair elections while vandalizing the Capitol building with confederate flag in hand will take me years to unpack. And with less than two weeks before the inauguration, Representative Tim Walberg calls for an emergency audit of election results in battleground states, without clarifying what that actually means.

Our democracy is being tested, and I choose to think that's a good thing. But let's not take anyone's word for it. How do our systems and safeguards work? What is an audit, really? How about we dig into this. Stay tuned. 

Trilby MacDonald, editor 


Infections are still on a “high plateau,” with a daily total of 110 new cases, four hospitalizations, and two deaths reported Wednesday morning. The positivity rate is 5.3 percent, down from a high of 9 percent in mid-December. The state-wide positivity rate is 9.6 percent. 

Washtenaw County Health Department has provided more than 2,200 vaccinations and Michigan Medicine has provided 13,863 vaccines in Phase 1A, focusing on frontline health care workers. Anyone eligible in 1A but not yet vaccinated is encouraged to complete this survey. Scheduling for Phase 1B, which includes older adults and some essential workers, begins Monday, Jan 11--WCHD will post more information then. Michigan Medicine is asking patients to sign up for notification via its patient portal.

In the News

“Yesterday, our democracy bent, but it did not break,” Ann Arbor congresswoman Debbie Dingell wrote early Thursday morning. “Though these Republican-led efforts to overturn our election were unsuccessful in this moment, the cracks they caused in the foundation of our democracy gave domestic terrorists license to invade the United States Capitol.” Dingell later told WEMU that she believed President Trump’s “fighting words” incited the mob that broke into the building.  

Tim Walberg, whose district wraps around the city, deplored the attack on “the symbolic foundation of our country”but still voted in favor of President Trump’s last-ditch attempt to reject the votes of states he lost.

Ann Arbor’s longest-serving city attorney to retire in 2022. Stephen Postema announced he will step down after eighteen years on the job to support his wife in her battle against cancer. He has an excellent track record of winning lawsuits brought against Ann Arbor. High profile cases with large plaintiff demands against the city include the closing of the Dream Nite Club in 2011, beating back a $30 million suit by the would-be developers of the old Y lot, and defeating the Footing Drain Disconnect case which the plaintiff’s attorney estimated would cost the city more $50 million and wound through four different courts before the US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal. He also survived an attempt by a local attorney to have him fired in 2019. 

County prosecutor Eli Savit wants to send fewer people to prison. Savit plans to address the underlying causes of criminal behavior, reversing policies that he believes disproportionately penalize poor and minority populations. The Observer’s James Leonard has our story. 

A wrong made right. Don “The Bomb” Simons was a star athlete on Ann Arbor High’s football, basketball, and track teams. He was favored to win the “Most Athletic” award for the class of ‘61, but when the votes were tallied, another senior was announced the winner. Fifty-nine years later, Simons finally got the award he was cheated out of. The Observer’s Shelly Daily has our story. 


Hot Home Market. Top Ann Arbor real estate agent Matt Dejanovich didn't sell a single home between March 23 and May 6, but 2020 ended up being his best year in thirty-two years as a Realtor. With parents working from home and kids studying remotely, Dejanovich says, his clients "want as nice of a home as they can find to live their life the way we have to live our life these days." The Observer’s Julie Halpert has our story

Busted Bra Shop brings inclusive sizing to Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor has recently acquired a bra and lingerie shop with sizes for everybody. Located above Mimi's Bridal Boutique on Washtenaw, the boutique carries a range of designers and stocks cup sizes from A to O and band sizes from 28 to 56 inches. Co-founder Lee Padgett believes that “people are important and they need to be able to buy what fits them.” Click-on Detroit. 

The walkway to Highland Apartments on Broadway was once the driveway to the estate of the late David English. Photo courtesy of Jeffra Rockwell.

Ask a2view

Test the sleuthing skills of Observer staff by sending us out on fact finding missions about quirky, insider, local anything. No issue is too esoteric, and there are no stupid questions. Email and fire away!

Q: “Is there anyone at the Observer who knows or can figure out what this is?” Jeffra Rockwell emails, attaching a photo of a wide, stone-walled path. “It‘s at the upper end of Broadway just after the apartments before the sidewalk ends.”

A: Today it’s a walkway to the Highland Apartments, but it was built as “the driveway to the estate of the late David English,” emails Deb Calvert, one of many past and present neighbors who responded to inquiries from artist (and longtime Broadway resident) Laura Strowe. “There used to be a huge house there and they owned all that property where [the] apartments are.” 

Robert Burns explored the vacant house before the apartments were constructed in 1972. He recalls it as a “red-brick manor house … at one time the most stately and the loftiest house on the hill.”  

David English died in 1975; his widow, Grace English, passed away in November at age ninety-four. 


By Ella Bourland

Friday: Watch University Opera Theater students virtually perform Proving Up, about a struggling family of homesteaders in the late 19th-century. The 2018 chamber opera, composed by Missy Mazzoli and written by Royce Vavrek, is based on a bleak 2011 short story by Swamplandia author Karen Russell. A small chamber orchestra conducted by U-M voice professor Kirk Severtson accompanies. Prerecorded in November in the Power Center. Free online anytime at YouTube SMTD.

Saturday: Drop off your old Christmas tree and take a hike led by a naturalist to learn how Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission will repurpose it to make habitats for birds and other park wildlife (10 and 11 a.m. & 1 and 2 p.m.). Masks required. Independence Lake County Park, 3200 Jennings Rd. $5 per group of four people or less. Capacity limited to five groups per hour; preregistration required at 

Sunday: Hear Chelsea-based writer and playwright Steve Daut livestream his popular program “A Village...And Then Some,” a series of four short stories on unforgettable characters and wisdom gained from unlikely sources (7 p.m.). Pay what you can ($10 or more suggested), preregistration required at Ann Arbor Storytellers’ Living Room Live!

See the Observer’s online calendar for many more local events.

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