The election is August 2!

After reading the July issue, Michael Homel of the Ann Arbor Stamp Club emailed calendar editor Jennifer Taylor to point out that our Inside Ann Arbor article on the proposed AAATA millage “claims the election is August 8 … Your staff fell down on fact-checking. I bet it was not you.” 

It was not. An editor mistakenly filled in a blank with the date of November’s general election. The primary is August 2. 

Vivienne Armentrout pointed out other egregious errors. “Ann Arbor taxpayers were initially obligated to pay 2.5 mills in a perpetual millage, but this is no longer the millage being levied,” she emailed. “With Headleeization, the millage amount was down to 1.9452 for FY 2021.” 

The current three-community AAATA tax has also been reduced by the Headlee tax-limit amendment, “to 0.6862 for FY 2021,” she added. 

Last but not least, “It is incorrect that this is the only transit tax for the two Ypsilanti communities,” Armentrout wrote. “Ypsilanti City voters chose to levy an additional 1.0 mill on themselves to support their bus service, even before joining AAATA. That has now been Headleeized to 0.9088.”


A different emergency number

To the Observer:

In the UpFront section of the Ann Arbor Observer published in April, James Leonard asked whether “more emergency numbers” is a “help or a hindrance,” presumably to community safety, though he never says so explicitly. Leonard begins the piece with a quote from an interviewee stating that multiple emergency phone numbers is “really confusing.” 

As organizers with CROS—a multi-racial collaboration of community members who are advocating for an unarmed, nonpolice response program in Ann Arbor—we suggest that a separate number for unarmed, non-police response isn’t simply a “proliferation of emergency phone numbers,” but a fundamentally different type of number, for a different type of service. And, as programs in other cities and counties have shown, community members are likely to use numbers to services that actually meet their needs.

Data show that unarmed, nonpolice response programs can be successful, save taxpayer money, be financially stable, and, most importantly, offer alternatives to a police response for those with legitimate reasons to fear law enforcement, such as deportation or fear of race-based police violence. While it’s true that communities need an incentive to remember a new phone number, we believe that the need for an emergency response that does not involve law enforcement—and hence reduces the potential to escalate into violence, deportation, or contact with the criminal legal system—serves as such an incentive.

Further, many community members have already committed myriad different numbers to memory. Sometimes these are community-based organizations with proven track records of community support. In the immigrant community, the WICIR phone number has answered immigration-related emergency calls for over a decade, without ever involving the police, and relying instead on social workers, advocates, translators and community members with deep ties to the neighborhoods from which calls originate. Other times, these numbers are the pastors, counselors, or community advocates we trust to get us through a crisis that we believe police could escalate. People learn those numbers and use them.

As Police Chief Mike Cox shared, more options are “a good thing.” If community members prefer to rely on 911 and do not feel the need to personally use an unarmed, nonpolice response number, that is certainly fine. But there is no reason to remove the option for those whose life circumstances steer them away from armed law enforcement as the solution to their crisis. Instead, let’s proudly offer a program that is evidence-based, proven to be successful, and centers community care. Learning a new phone number is a minute and inconsequential part of the exchange. We don’t think people will be confused at all.

William D. Lopez & Lisa Jackson