Chris Dzombak

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Letter to Ann Arbor City Council regarding the failed Y Lot vote

Letter to Ann Arbor City Council regarding the failed Y Lot vote

Last night, ahead of publishing on Damn Arbor this morning’s editorial on the role of campaign contributions in Monday’s Y Lot vote, I sent the following email to all members of City Council:

I was disappointed that Council failed to pass this resolution last night.

In my view, it’s a clear win for the City, with little risk (0.8 acre of downtown real estate will continue to be worth at least $4.2 million for the foreseeable future, and the City’s CFO indicated issuing a bond is a low-risk possibility). We stand to bring the City literally millions of dollars, which could:

• buy quite a lot of crosswalk lighting & other safety improvements — something everyone in the city agrees on • grow our affordable housing fund • improve our already-robust parks system • or simply shore up the general fund (which, as I understand, could help the pension system continue to recover from the 2009 crash)

Instead, three of you (I’m excluding Councilmember Westphal, who I understand was engaged in parliamentary maneuvering) voted to enrich a private developer to the tune of seven figures. This particular developer has acted in bad faith for years, set back downtown development, and failed to improve our city’s character and amenities despite having promised to do so.

Another thing this developer & his family have done, of course, is to contribute just over $10,000 to three of your campaign committees over the years: $5,850 to Councilmember Eaton’s campaign (including two donations from Dahlmann Properties’ corporate counsel); $2,500 to Councilmember Lumm’s campaign; and $1,950 to Councilmember Kailasapathy’s campaign.

As an aside, Councilmember Kailasapathy, it seems you told MLive you haven’t taken money from developers in the past two elections. Campaign finance records for the August 2016 primary indicate that on July 10, 2016 your campaign received $500 from Bernard C. Dahlmann, who’s listed as “Real Estate Management” at Dahlmann Properties; and on May 20, 2016 your campaign received $500 from Michael C. Martin, Real Estate Developer at First Martin Corporation. I could not find any records indicating that these contributions were returned. If I am incorrect here, or if this is a mistake on MLive’s part (it wouldn’t be the first), please do let me know.

For those of you have received substantial campaign contributions from Dahlmann & associates, a “no” vote on buying back the Y Lot looks like a corrupt vote.

Your obligation is to do what’s best for the City and its citizens, not to enrich your donors. To many observers, there’s no reasonable justification for the City to give such a gift to Dennis Dahlmann.

Ahead of another vote on this subject, I will be working to be sure as many of your constituents as possible know how much money Dahlmann & associates have contributed to your campaigns.

Chris Dzombak