July 8, 2021

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

This week

Vaccine mandates are becoming more common nationally and in our area. U-M announces that student athletes and athletic staff will have to get both jabs by August 1, and Trinity Health now requires all staff be vaccinated.  A vaccine is still not approved for children under twelve, and AAPS announces two virtual learning options for fall. 

U-M regent and MIGOP co-chair Ron Weiser digs the hole deeper with two terrible stories this week, but seems determined to hold onto his seats. Conservatives rejoiced when the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Ann Arbor's Thomas Moore Law Center to overturn a California rule requiring nonprofits to disclose their top donors. 

In an era when many people believe yelling and name calling are valid forms of communication, it may be a good time for all of us to brush up on our conversation skills. Lisa Gottleib offers a nonviolent communication primer for difficult conversations about the Covid-19 vaccines. 

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

The corpse lily in bloom at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens last month. The blooms can grow as tall as ten feet, and exude a perfume that smells like rotting flesh to attract its preferred pollinator, flies. June, 2021, courtesy of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens. 

The News...Briefly

As of Wednesday morning, there were five confirmed cases, one hospitalization, and no deaths in the previous twenty-four hours. Last week’s positivity rate was 0.7 percent.

Trinity Health announces that it will require all colleagues, clinical staff, contractors, and those conducting business in its health care facilities be vaccinated against Covid-19. The requirement applies to roughly 24,000 Trinity Health Michigan colleagues working across five Saint Joseph Mercy Health System hospitals, three Mercy Health hospitals, and two employed medical groups— IHA and Mercy Health Physician Partners. Seventy-five percent of Trinity Health employees have already received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

The U-M also is mandating vaccines for student athletes and athletic staff. Previously, the school had required vaccines only for students living in university housing, but added athletics because high-contact sports increase the likelihood of transmission. Click on Detroit

Ann Arbor Public Schools releases fall virtual learning plan. AAPS will offer grades K-5 a choice of in-person classes, virtual asynchronous classes, or virtual synchronous classes through the A2 Virtual Village. The decision responds to some parents’ concerns about in-person learning before Covid-19 vaccines are approved for children, and to accommodate all types of students and their learning needs. Click on Detroit

City council advances an ordinance extending the time tenants have to renew their leases. The ordinance would lengthen the number of days landlords must wait before asking tenants to renew from seventy days after the lease begins to 210. A final vote will take place on July 20. MLive (subscriber exclusive)

A dry cleaner on Ashley will be leveled to clean up toxic waste. The carcinogenic chemical tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, was first discovered underneath Armen Cleaners thirty-six years ago, and in 2016, the EPA found that toxic vapor emanating from the plume was affecting the rental property next door. The state-funded cleanup is expected to take place this fall. MLive (subscriber exclusive)

The Michigan GOP will pay $200,000 to settle an election finance complaint linked to U-M regent Ron Weiser. In February, then-MI GOP chair Laura Cox alleged that in 2018, Weiser, the founder of Ann Arbor-based real estate giant McKinley, arranged a “sleazy payoff” to Shelby Township clerk Stan Grot to get him to drop out of the race for secretary of state. Weiser—who’d previously said he’d donated the money Grot received—said he would reimburse the party for what he called a “disproportionate conciliation payment.” Detroit Free Press. Meanwhile, the Michigan Daily published a bizarre email Weiser sent in October 2019; he apparently intended it for a romantic partner, but instead sent it to his fellow regents. 

The U.S. Supreme Court sides with Ann Arbor’s Thomas More Law Center and overturns a California rule requiring nonprofits to disclose their top donors. The state argued it needed the information to help prevent fraud; the More Center, cofounded by Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan as a conservative counterweight to the ACLU, said it would expose donors to harassment. ABC News

Matthaei Botanical Gardens reopens building for scheduled visits. The two-hour visits are free, but each visitor must preregister. The conservatory was closed when the giant corpse lily bloomed last month. The fly-pollinated flower exudes a perfume that smells like rotting flesh when it opens for one day, every other year, but a time-lapse video of the bloom can be seen here. 

Boy Scouts raise 60,000 meals for Food Gatherers. The annual “Tim Esch Scouting for Food Birthday Party” doubles as a birthday party in memory of Tim Esch, a Boy Scout Troop 4 member who was killed in an auto accident sixteen years ago. According to a press release, scouts go door-to-door asking for nonperishable food donations, and bring the food to the Esch residence to be picked up by Food Gatherers. The family celebrates Tim and the troop with a party. 

Hard Talks: A guide to respectful dialogue 

In this highly divisive era, civil debate has been elusive. The Covid-19 vaccines have been especially contentious, exposing fault lines in families and in groups that had once found themselves on the same side of the political fence. With so much at stake, these conversations can feel extremely urgent and maintaining composure can be a challenge. The Nonviolent Communication framework offers useful tools for navigating hard talks and may open the door to a shift in perspective. Certified NVC trainer Lisa Gottlieb shares her tips. 


Twenty-nine University of Michigan Wolverine Olympians will compete in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Six of these athletes competed in Michigan's 2020-21 season: Myles Amine (wrestling), Patrick Callan (men's swimming), Maggie MacNeil (women's swimming), Jake Mitchell (men's swimming), Jayde Riviere (women's soccer) and Mariella Venter (women's swimming). Three U-M coaches will be joining the athletes at this year's Olympics, Mike Bottom (swimming), Jordan Gaarenstroom (men's gymnastics), and Mike Hilde (diving). Hail to the Victors! For a complete list of the 2021 U-M Olympians: Go Blue

Two Michigan football players are among the first student athletes to sign corporate deals. Junior wide receiver Mike Sainristil and sophomore running back Blake Corum’s contracts with Yoke Gaming allow them to earn money from fans who play video games with them. The NCAA began allowing student athletes to profit off of their names, images, and likenesses at the end of June, after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower-court decision that it had violated antitrust laws. Click on Detroit 

Pete and Carol Sickman-Garner, owners of Spun, pose in their yarn shop's new location in the space once occupied by Hollander's in the Kerrytown Market. 

Marketplace Changes

Spun expands. The colorful yarn store has moved from a small space upstairs into the expansive ground floor space formerly occupied by Hollander's in Kerrytown Market & Shops. Spun has greatly expanded its yarn selection, and added supplies for spinning and weaving along with new embroidery and cross-stitch tools. “We're looking forward to a busy fall with longer evening hours, dozens of classes, and monthly events,” says Pete Sickman-Garner, who owns the store with his wife, Carol.

Things to Do

By Ella Bourland

8 Thursday: Drop by All Hands Active’s “Repairsday Thursday.” Bring your broken electronics, furniture, toys, and any other odd item for AHA members to try to repair and offer advice. Repairs not guaranteed. Livestream option available. 6-8 p.m., All Hands Active, basement of 255 E. Liberty suite 225. Free. 

9 Friday: Watch the online premiere of PTD Production’s “Your Call Is Important To Us.” Laura Bird directs local actors in architectural sociologist Jan Carpman's new short comedy, written for Zoom, about a woman working from home during the pandemic who must navigate a maze of tech support to solve a critical problem with her email account. Cast: Linda Lee Austin, Dave Melcher, Janet Rich, Karrie Waarala, Stephanie McSwain, Martin Gargaro, Johnny Linn, and Jerry Doty. 8 p.m., online at

10 Saturday: Participate in Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy’s “Annual Bat Count” by counting big brown bats as they emerge from their daytime resting place on the Conservancy Farm to hunt insects. Bring lawn chairs, blankets, and snacks if you like. Social distance or wear a mask. No pets. 8-11 p.m., Conservancy Farm, 8383 Vreeland Rd., Superior Twp. Free. 484-6565. SMLC 

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

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