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The Subdivision that Got Away

“The situation was going downhill rapidly,” Dan Ezekiel remembers. It was the spring of 2009, and the Forsythe Middle School science teacher had gone out to 3013 W. Huron River Dr. to meet the property’s owner,...

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The Hieftje Era

“I did everything I set out to do,” says mayor John Hieftje of his seven terms in office.Sitting in city hall’s south-facing first-floor conference room the day after the winter’s heaviest snowfall, Ann...

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Kangaroos on Ann Arbor-Saline Rd.

Armadillos in a basement, swans in a pond, sloths on the ceilings, kangaroos in a field, kids in a classroom, an alligator in a van. Is this place a zoo, an animal sanctuary, a traveling circus, or a school?”It’s...

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Back on Track

A race car crouches in the lobby of Road & Track’s south-side office. “That’s a real McLaren, from ’89,” Larry Webster says. “That thing on the wall is [a body panel] from a real 1966...

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A $250,000 Election?

In November, Jane Lumm and Kirk Westphal spent over $40,000 between them in Ward Two. Their total nearly doubled last year’s second-most-expensive contest, the $21,000 Democratic primary between Jack Eaton and Marcia...

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Family vs. Garbage

Jeanie Wilson’s day of reckoning came last June. “I must’ve picked up at least ten Costco granola bar wrappers from all over the house,” she says. The mother of three says that that discovery, combined...

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The Uprising

Just after Thanksgiving, engineering Professor Fawwaz Ulaby posted an open letter to the U-M administration, protesting a plan to eliminate more than 300 jobs in the university’s departments and schools. The online...

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Heat from the Ground

At work, local attorney Deb LaBelle deals with grim realities. Four years ago, she won a landmark $100 million lawsuit against the state on behalf of hundreds of women who’d been sexually abused in prison. In December, she...

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Why Don’t Chiefs Stay?

“I found out when everybody else did,” says mayor John Hieftje of fire chief Chuck Hubbard’s abrupt announcement that he will retire at the end of January. “I don’t know why. I suspect he’ll...

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Faces of the City

Susan Campbell walks briskly down N. Fourth Ave. with her Pentax camera around her neck, pursuing an older couple who stride arm in arm, bundled together against the cold. She approaches them with a smile and asks if she could...

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Caring CASAs

“Have you ever heard of Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange, www.mare.org?” Joyce Tesoriero asks.She swivels her chair around to her computer. “This is gonna break your heart,” she warns.The screen in her...

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Moving to Detroit

Andy Sokoly is one of the few white faces in a church on Detroit’s east side. As a woman with a cordless microphone leads a thunderous call-and-response–“Praise him!”–a group of visitors is swiftly...

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Curbing the DDA

For the past year, Steve Kunselman has been using the city’s Downtown Development Authority as a political punching bag.Asked why, the Ward Three councilmember answers with a question of his own: “Why did mayor John...

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The Kings of Commercial

When businesses look for space in Ann Arbor, chances are good they’ll end up talking to former beer deliveryman Jim Chaconas and his young sidekick, Brendan Cavender.Gone are the shelves of books and magazines from the old...

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What Price Pensions?

Six years ago, the funds that pay for employee pensions and retiree health care for Washtenaw County employees were nearly balanced: they held $215 million in assets against what staff estimated to be $225 million in...

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Capital Partnership

Thirty years ago, Nub Turner led the long-shot leveraged buyout that saved downtown’s last factory. Now his son Matt is backing bubble tea and tech start-ups.—Matt Turner says his business relationship with his...

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A star architect’s vision

When I worked at the Chelsea Standard in the 1980s, I often covered events at Chelsea High School. It was not a single building, but a campus of one-story structures that students scurried between in all types of weather. I was...

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Charter Countdown

Dexter Village voters will soon make their biggest political decision since the town was settled in 1824: to be or not to be a city. And the clock is ticking: as the Community Observer went to press, voters were selecting nine...

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Ten Candidates, One Contest

Even in an election year with no national or state offices at stake, ten candidates are competing November 5 for five seats on city council. It’s the most heavily contested council race in the last ten years.Because only a...

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The Sweet Smell of Success

The city’s costliest building project has a fresh-air payoff. If you take the Border-to-Border trail past Geddes Dam, or walk the grounds at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, you might have noticed that the air is pleasanter...

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