Covid-19: As of Wednesday morning, there were seventy-nine confirmed cases (up from fifty-two last week), no hospitalizations, and one death reported in Washtenaw County in the previous twenty-four hours. The positivity rate is down slightly, to 3.5 percent.
Detroit Free Press education writer David Jesse reports that tensions have been brewing between the U-M Board of Regents and president Mark Schlissel, and may have reached a boiling point over the summer. Points of contention include Schlissel's handling of the sexual misconduct case involving former provost Martin Philbert, and a major setback for the university's Detroit Center for Innovation. Regent Mark Bernstein acknowledged the tensions but called them normal workings for a board. A regents' meeting scheduled for today will decide on a raise for Schlissel; the outcome may give an idea of which way the winds are blowing.
The Michigan Daily surveyed members of the incoming class of 2025 about their experiences and views. The paper's staff could teach their mentors a thing or two about data visualization. Some nuggets: fewer than half the freshmen who responded are from Michigan, and 7.3 percent are from another country. Seven residence halls on campus (Alice Lloyd, Mosher Jordan, Couzens, East Quad, North Quad, Stockwell and West Quad) now have air-conditioning, and among the students least satisfied with their residences were those in Bursley and Baits halls on North Campus, which don't. Of the 10 percent of students who said they were most interested in joining a fraternity or sorority, 82 percent had their first drink in high school. Of the 22 percent of students who characterized themselves as most excited about partying on a Friday night, just 12 percent said they would mask up at a house party. Nevertheless, Covid cases at the U-M are headed down, perhaps due to aggressive testing—nearly 16,000 in the first two weeks of September—to catch and quarantine “breakthrough” cases.
Students looking for housing will find themselves in the middle of back-and-forth between renters and landlords that’s unusually intense even by the standards of Ann Arbor's long history of antagonism. City council fired the first shot in August with a measure substantially extending the time tenants have before they must commit to renewing their leases or consent to having their apartments shown. Last week that drew a lawsuit against the city (MLive, subscriber-only) from a landlord group. The latest salvo came Monday night when council approved the formation of a new Renters Commission (Michigan Daily). After considerable debate, the commission will include landlord members—but they won’t be able to vote.
What’s more important: electricity or trees? On one side are people who’ve lost power after falling limbs severed DTE lines and are demanding that the company do more to prevent outages. On the other are people chagrined at the ungainly cutouts left by what councilmember Lisa Disch calls “tree butchering.” One pro-power post on Nextdoor has been removed, but MLive goes in depth on the pushback over tree trimming (subscriber exclusive)
Ann Arbor will have a new congressperson if a plan released last week goes into effect. The city is now in Debbie Dingell’s 12th District, whose odd V shape was created in a partisan gerrymander twenty years ago: Michigan was losing a congressional seat, so Lansing Republicans put two Democratic incumbents in the same district. The state is losing another seat this year, but this time, the lines are being drawn by the voter-created Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission—and instead of two incumbents, the proposed new District 7 has none. (Dingell would be in a redrawn District 2.) The commission is taking comments on its website and still updating its maps. But, if the new 7th takes shape as shown, expect a wide-open primary in 2022.
The Ann Arbor Fire Department's Facebook page has dramatic video of the fire that tore through a historic home on S. Main on Saturday. “Sad to see it burn,” emails Patrick McCauley. McCauley and Susan Wineberg, the authors of Historic Ann Arbor: An Architectural Guide, report that it was built c. 1868, most likely by a member of the pioneering Brown family, in a hybrid style. Sadly, photos show both its Greek Revival roof and square Italianate tower entirely consumed in flames.
On Monday, city council approved the purchase of a new AAFD emergency vehicle. According to the Facebook page, the current Rescue 1-1, which dates to 1981, is its busiest vehicle, making 1,322 trips thus far in 2021. While Rescue 1-1 rides on an intermediate truck chassis, its successor will be based on the Ford F-350, a super-duty crew cab pickup.
The Regional Transit Authority's Ann Arbor-to-Detroit bus service returns next month. D2A2 has been off the road since early in the pandemic, but reservations will reopen on Wednesday for trips starting October 18. One-way fares are $8, $6 advance, or $5 in books of ten. The service will run sixteen hourly round trips daily, leaving from Blake Transit Center and dropping off at Grand Circus Park with easy transfers to Detroit's People Mover or QLine tram.
Huron River Renaissance: When Grace and Stan Shackman were newlyweds in the mid-1960s, they’d walk to Argo Park and never saw another visitor there. Now it’s so busy they park across the river and take the new pedestrian tunnel. Grace explains the transformation in her feature for the Observer’s 2021-2022 City Guide.