Chris Easthope

Chris Easthope
attorney; Ann Arbor City Council Member, 5th Ward

Tottered on: 19 January 2006
Temperature: 39 F
Ceiling: sunny, snow off tree
Ground: snowy
Wind: SSW at 13 mph

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TT with HD: Chris Easthope

HD: Totter end choice is yours, although I have to say that the high end is the drier end.

CE: You tell me. I can go either end.

HD: Then I will recommend the high end ...

CE: ... what is the protocol for this?

HD: ... let's see ... are we roughly balanced?

CE: I probably weigh more than you ...

HD: ... well, I don't know but this seems to be working. It's worked out so far without having to weigh people and measure distances ... although, I have to admit, and I hope you'll take this in the spirit it's intended, that I'm trying to write a joke that begins, How many city council members does it take to ride a teeter totter? And it would involve somehow the idea that you wouldn't just hop on and scootch back and forth and find a balance point. That you'd actually measure out distances from the fulcrum center and weigh people and perhaps put something on the ballot and ask for a millage. So if you have any idea of how to make that more compact or have other suggestions for the joke ...

CE: I think we'd probably have to get another, 12th, council member, a member-at-large and make the decision for us ...

HD: As long as we're on the topic of city council, you're the mayor pro tem? Now what exactly does that entail beyond running the meetings when the mayor can't be there?

CE: You are responsible for everything when the mayor is out of town. So all the power that the mayor has except for the power of veto. The mayor is responsible for signing all the contracts, ... , you have emergency management power, when he is out of town. So it's all the powers of the mayor's office, but not veto of anything that's done by council.

HD: So if there's a blizzard and he happened to be out of town, and you had to declare some sort of extra snow emergency or something like that?

CE: A lot of that lies with the city administrator. But when we had the bomb threat at city hall, the mayor was out of town ...

HD: So how hard is it to learn the rules of parliamentary procedure that it takes to run one of those meetings? I mean what I know about it is, you can't just make a motion somebody's gotta actually second it. And that's the extent of my knowledge. Is it simple enough that you could kind of fake your way through it if you wanted to?

CE: I think when you start, you are faking your way through it. But you learn by experience ...

HD: ... you mean the experience of people saying, Hey you can't do that!

CE: ... yeah, or just by watching. It's amazing what you'll learn just by keeping your mouth shut.

HD: Who are the people on the council that really know that stuff cold?

CE: Probably the two people I would point to on council right now, who are really good with that, are Marcia Higgins and Joan Lowenstein. Marcia Higgins, especially, has taken a lot of time to read Roberts Rules of Order. She would be what I think we'd consider the closest thing to our parliamentarian on council. But nobody, really, I think has taken the classes.

HD: They have classes?!

CE: The Municipal League, I think, offers some kind of class on parliamentary procedure. I've seen it once a long time ago. But the person we look to mostly is the city attorney. We'll ask him parliamentary procedure rules right at the table.

HD: So the city council had a retreat that involved crayons and coloring and stuff? And there was a letter to the editor, someone one chiding the city council for not engaging in serious enough activity and that, We need council to sit down and address serious issues, not coloring sessions! When you see criticism like that, do you say, Gosh maybe we should have handled it differently? I mean, the fact that you're on the end of a teeter totter, right now, suggests to me that probably you don't really care about criticism like that.

CE: I believe that all criticism is fair, if you agree to do this job. If you were at that retreat you'd understand the purpose of that exercise was to express a vision of downtown. Which right now is such a relevant topic in the news today. So the colors were just to be used to make differences in your presentation. Anybody who reads about it though, ... I would have had probably the same impression: that city council people are out there drawing pictures with crayons, What's happening with our garbage pickup? It's a fair consideration!

HD: Well, speaking of garbage pickup and colors ... these blue bins! Today is garbage pickup day on our street, and I have to say, I'm a big fan of them. Has that program worked out pretty well in your neighborhood?

CE: Better than I could have imagined. There were a lot of people who were really concerned about it when it started. But I haven't received a single complaint. There were issues early on, that they weren't large enough. So we had certain things where you could get a larger one ...

HD: ... or a smaller one if you didn't have the space.

CE: The whole purpose in the residential program was to make sure that people weren't subsidizing other people's trash pickup, and to encourage recycling. We're still looking at our recycling rates, but I think it has increased ...

HD: ... your impression is that it's increased the rate of recycling because people feel like, Oh I don't have room ...

CE: I do. I haven't checked yet with our department to find out what our tonnage, but we can find that out. That's part of the program, that people compost more, recycle more, because you're limited.

HD: Something that we've done along our section of Upper Mulholland just sort of verbally is we've agreed that on those days when you have too much, feel free to put your extra garbage in other people's bins. Or on occasion I've said, I don't have too much, I actually have too little, so I'm going to distribute it amongst my neighbor's bins.

CE: My wife and I didn't put our garbage out this morning, because we didn't have that much.

HD: This time of year that works. In the summer time that might not be ... the wisest strategy. So are you generally happy with your neighborhood? Say, the people who live next door, would you feel comfortable walking over and saying, Hey I'm going to put a bunch of garbage in your blue bin?

CE: YES. We live right across from Eberwhite. Our house actually backs up to Eberwhite School, so we know our neighbors well. We help each other out. We haven't actually run into that thing with garbage, but whoever is up first will snowblow the walk for everybody else.

HD: Oh yeah?

CE: It's that kind of neighborhood where everybody will lend a helping hand.

HD: So you take your turn with the snowblower? You've got one?

CE: I do. It's an big old snowblower that we got from my wife's aunt. I'm actually just learning how to use it after three years. We make sure that we do that in our neighborhood, because there's some elderly people who live in our neighborhood. And we want to make sure that they can get out and walk and enjoy the neighborhood.

HD: Alright let me ask you about this resolution that basically goes by the label the Eastway Greenway Resolution.

CE: Eastway ... hmm ... Easthope? [CE teeters precariously backwards nearly falling]

HD: Woah, WOAH!

CE: I'm fine!

HD: Nice save!

CE: Donut from this morning just kicked in.

HD: What just kicked in?

CE: The donut.

HD: You know, only one person has actually fallen off, that was Mary. As an attorney do you think I should investigate liability insurance?

CE: Only if you're really trying to launch people over your fence. You should be probably fine under home owner's.

HD: So this resolution, it's known as the Easthope Greenway resolution. What is the actual status of that now?

CE: It got voted down. That was to set aside or designate three City properties as a part of a larger greenway. Obviously the rest of the properties that proponents would like to see are private property. And that would have to be a part of their non-profit over time.

HD: When you say over time, when Joe O'Neal talks about this, he's talking about like a half a century?

CE: Yes, but he figures, I think the last time we talked, he said over the next thirty years you're likely to see a lot of these properties go on the market. So, yeah, it is an extensive period of time.

HD: What were the nuts and bolts of how that resolution got written? I mean it's your name that's attached to it. Did you do the primary authorship on it?

CE: No. I worked on it with several of the greenway proponents but I can't take credit for actually writing it. I would sit with them and they would say, Here's what we would like to see presented to council. And I would give them feedback on what I thought was good language and what was not good language. That's how we came to an agreement on the final language.

HD: Were you emailing Microsoft Word documents back and forth using that red-lining feature?

CE: Nope, at a coffee shop with a pen.

HD: Huh. So kinda old-school.

CE: Oh yeah. There were a lot of face-to-face conversations with regard to that.

HD: Well recently there was a report of three former planning commissioners having a conversation in a diner and, to me, that's the most interesting part of the story. The idea that there's these guys sitting around in a diner talking about this stuff, and I figured that's probably good for democracy

CE: It could be the word 'diner' was inserted instead of 'bar' because I think it was truly a bar.

HD: Oh, you think so? You have an idea of which bar it was in?

CE: I think it's probably gonna be the Arena bar, but I could easily find that out.

HD: Well, that resolution, even though it was voted down, if you'd added language to say, 'a set-aside within these properties for teeter totters', it might have passed.

CE: You know, now that this whole concept has taken off, I think if teeter totters had been involved, probably a lot more people would have voted for it. It got voted down because, well, the teeter totter part might have saved it, but it got voted down because there was not much room on the set-aside language. The proponents really wanted, and you know the proponents are constituents of mine, ... and the language that really hurt it was when it said these parcels 'in their entirety'. The 'in their entirety' was the thing that council had a tough time with.

HD: It seems like 'in their entirety' was the thing that prevented say it being consistent with the 3-site plan from the DDA, right?

CE: Actually, my colleagues had problems with the North Main site and the West Washington site, too, because they thought mixed use ... part greenway, part mixed use ... is a better overall use. So it wasn't just the First and William, it was the others also.

HD: So, in your mind, have you pretty much given up the idea of seeing that resolution in some form passed or that plan passed?

CE: I think it had a great effect because it started the conversation in the community. It led to the formation of the Greenway Task Force. It's got a lot of very smart people on it, so, although it didn't get passed, it started a community conversation about it. And it also made us look at the development of these properties in the 3-Site Plan issue closely. So I think it led to a lot of good, actually. What the final outcome is remains to be seen, but it engaged the community much more.

HD: It seemed to me that the proposal kinda got the cart before the horse. I mean, when Brandt Coultas was here, he felt like Goal Number One for that whole project was, Can you manage to get a path constructed? And if you can get a path constructed, if the railroad is willing to cooperate with that, and if you can find the money either in the private sector, or from the parks department, or however, to get the path made then you could say, Maybe we want to create some destination parks.

CE: And you're referring to First and William?

HD: Yeah, when I think of it, I think of that particular lot mostly as opposed to the other two.

CE: I think what Brandt's position is that he would have liked to have seen a parking structure there. At least I think that's his position. And I disagree with that. Whether you agree with the greenway concept or not, the fact is, we have better alternatives than putting a parking structure down at First and William. Putting a giant parking structure on the edge of an Historic District should be your last alternative, your last option, in my mind.

HD: The thing is, I mean, if you look at the Liberty Lofts construction right across the street [from First and William], the way I would imagine a parking structure looking there would be very symmetric across the street.

CE: True, but if you look at the schematics for that, of what they were going to do, there's substantial green on the side of that hill, that would be all gone. So you'd lose that and you'd have a big brick structure there. It's what the DDA wanted, because they thought, What's the highest and best use of this land? It's floodway, floodplain, we should put a parking structure here. And that was based on the need for parking. My argument was, You have other alternatives: underground parking at Kline's lot, another story at Fourth and William. You can have the parking you need and not put a structure there at this point in time.

HD: What do you think about the idea of a transit station there?

CE: I think that's interesting. I think that's very interesting.

HD: Because when I read about Mayor Hieftje's talk about regionalism, railways ... I mean he talks about there being railways lines already there for regional transit and I just assume that that actual piece of track by First and William would be a part of any regional railway ... and of course if you want people to use it it's gotta be accessible at transit stations and that seems like a logical place to put one.

CE: It is. And the question is density and usage rates. Those questions haven't been answered. That might be a higher and better use than a passive recreational park. And that's one of the things that's a community goal. Does that involve a giant five-story parking structure with 500 spaces?

HD: I notice that almost every time you say the word parking structure, you precede it with the word 'giant' ...

CE: That's probably fair.

HD: Let's see, the Lower Town Historic District. If you want to talk about the details of the proposed Historic District that's fine, but what I'm more interested in is the idea that city council was supposed to vote on this. And I think this was the second time you were supposed to vote on it. But the vote got postponed again. So I'm wondering: when are you guys going to be ready to vote this thing up or down?

CE: I think you probably won't see any more postponements. I mean, that hasn't been said and I don't think anybody is promising that we'll vote by a certain date. But we're all struggling. And I grew up there, by the way.

HD: Oh yeah?

CE: Yeah, I grew up on Pontiac Trail, so I'm quite familiar with the area. People are struggling, I think my colleagues are struggling with, What's best for that area? Do we really need a historic district? I think everybody agrees that there's several historic properties. I mean, I do. Is there a better way to preserve those instead of making a whole new district?

HD: Well some of the historic districts that already exist, people talk about, Oh we have all these districts! But I was talking to one of my neighbors who knows about this stuff and really it's the Old West Side, the Old Fourth Ward, maybe Liberty Street, but those are the two that really count as a geographic area. And the rest are practically really about particular structures. Cobblestone Farm, say.

CE: I'd have to check with people who are far more versed than me about this, but I thought there was some aspect where you can't designate individual structures anymore as a district.

HD: So that's not an option?

CE: Right. I think. Obviously I'd have to check with someone. I think that was part of the problem. Because if we could take a historic designation and apply it to individual buildings and ...

HD: ... so these individual houses that have some historical connection to the Underground Railroad ...

CE: But instead, you'd actually have to draw it. And personally, I think I'm in favor of that because I know that area. And I think if it's drawn tight enough, and really takes in the properties that are necessarily contributing properties, then I think that's okay ... but right now people are stuck. There's a real divide among people who want this and who don't want this. First of all, I think we're struggling with, What do our constituents really want? I always look at this as, If you look at the properties, are they worth being designated? If they're worth being designated, then it's more of an educational process. Saying, You know what, I know you don't like this. But we're not going to be here in 50 years, and these historic structures will be. So the discussion goes beyond you and I and what we want today. And I think that's a very valid point. And the other part of that argument is, that it's an eclectic neighborhood and always has had some funky houses along there. And people like that kind of diverse neighborhood. I also agree with that, because it is kind of a funky cool neighborhood. It has different types of houses and do those houses really belong in that district?

HD: So right now you're feeling like you're inclined to vote it up?

CE: I am.

HD: Let's see, as long as you're here, I mean you're kind of my council member because you're from this ward, you represent the 5th Ward. And because I am an avid cyclist and a committed bicycle commuter, ... this Washtenaw Bike Path? I guess it's been moved to a February meeting for discussion?

CE: Yeah, one week or two week adjournment on that.

HD: Yeah, there was a news brief yesterday or the day before in the paper about it. And this reveals, I guess, how little attention I really pay, but that was the first I had heard of it. And my first thought, as a taxpayer was, Man those poor folks who live along the way! They are essentially going to be assessed the entire burden of the cost, I mean, minus the federal grant, but of the taxpayers in Ann Arbor who will be paying anything for the path, they'll be the only ones, as best I can tell. But feel free to correct me or educate me ...

CE: There's an assessment. So it's an assessment that's no different than any other project that would go on on a street: if a street gets paved, if you get new sewers in, it's kind of the same thing. And certainly that is one of the guiding concerns of all these people. But when you look at the overall benefit to the city I mean you hope they feel like it benefits their property. I know some of them don't, but making it a walkable, bikeable city everywhere benefits our city. And sometimes that's a hard decision to make, but when you look at the overall goal, that's the overriding concern. I think that makes the project worthwhile.

HD: I guess I'm of two minds. I was talking about this with Brandt. As a cyclist, I certainly don't mind bike lanes. I think they're great, but not because it gives me a place where I can ride, but because it makes the road wider, and in general it does make it more cycling-friendly. But I don't really need to have a special lane. I mean, I just cycle Washtenaw, but I know a lot of people wouldn't. I know even a lot of avid cyclists wouldn't. They would say, That's dangerous. And they would say that the reason you get run over by cars every once in a while on your bike, is that you ride in places you shouldn't be. But I have a right to be there, I follow safe cycling practices and I feel like, if you put a path there, it encourages the mindset that cyclists shouldn't be a part of the regular traffic flow. Cyclists should be over there, where it's safe and secure. I see the other side of it, but it does cause me to pause and say, If we're going to accept a path, can't we find some other way to pay for it rather than asking those individual homeowners? So my idea for paying for it is to use the money that would be saved by discontinuing the current leaf collection program. Because that, to me, is a hazard to cyclists. Having leaves near the roadway or directly in the roadway ... I mean a lot of people just rakem' directly into the roadway, and you can threaten to cite them for the ordinance violation, but realistically, you put that many leaves even close to the roadway, and you're going to get leaves exactly where cyclists are supposed to be. So looking at the numbers, I think you could just about pay for it by discontinuing leaf collection.

CE: Well two things. There's a lot of people who aren't as experienced a cyclist as you, recreational cylists like myself. I mean, if my knee ever gets healed, I'd like to ride my bike again.

HD: You busted your knee?

CE: I had surgery last April.

HD: Oh that's too bad.

CE: Severed ACL.

HD: Were you trying to dunk on someone?

CE: You know, that's the story I'd like to use. Unfortunately I was jump-stopping to guard a 20-year-old who was about to dunk on me.

HD: So you were playing basketball?

CE: I was playing basketball.

HD: Wow, I was just making that up out of whole cloth as a joke!

CE: I was playing basketball and my age caught up to me.

HD: Well, I would come up with a good story and hone it and then stick with it.

CE: I wanted to say that my foot hit somebody in the face while I was dunking on them ... but my point is that I'm a recreational cyclist and ...

HD: ... absolutely ...

CE: ... and recreational cyclists don't have knowledge of the road rules and they need some parameters. You know, you have to look out for them also.

HD: Yeah, I mean that argument totally goes through. It just causes me to pause.

CE: Okay. And in terms of the assessment, if you live in the neighborhood and you had kids who are learning to ride a bicycle, you'd want a path?

HD: Yep.

CE: It's my property but the City has an easement. And the City has always said, You have to take care of your property, even though we have an easement. That's spreading the burden across the city. Because if the City were to fix every sidewalk, and take on every single project, it's not clear financially that we could do that. And now as it relates to the leaf collection program, which I am a proponent of, and I have been because of the alternative ...

HD: ... which is people put them in brown paper bags and it's folded in ...

CE: ... it's actually more expensive when you do that. And I actually worked this out several years ago when they talked about cutting the program. You still have a cost to pick up those bags. And we estimated the cost per ton of picking up those bags. And it's actually more expensive than the current program is. We spend about $390,000 a year on the leaf collection program. The cost to pick up bags was in excess of that.

HD: Okay.

CE: So it's more cost-effective. We also did a study on phosphorous loading and whether putting leaves in the street is it actually causing more phosphorous in the Huron River. And it's not. So that was an important environmental factor

HD: But there's a lot of leaves that get left every year. It seems like the last week of the program gets snowed out ...

CE: ... every year, it changes ... that's a good point.

HD: And the other thing is that it encourages the worst in human traits, which is procrastination. So instead of, I've got enough to rake together so let me put them in a bag, it's, No, I don't want to do that, yet, because leaf collection is not until a week and a half from now. So I'm just going to put it off and put it off ...

CE: I think your points are fair. I think it's an interesting thing to think of it in terms of a cyclist. But I think if you looked at certain streets, the trees hang over the streets. So what you're expecting is that not only will people rake up and bag the leaves in their yard, but they're going to walk out into the street and rake the leaves into the yard and bag them. Especially on the wide streets in my neighborhood, there's a substantial amount of leaves that, if we didn't have leaf pickup, they would fall directly in the street and stay in the street.

HD: Okay.

CE: When it gets wet in the fall, they would become a driving hazard because it gets slippery. There's all kinds of aspects to that which are difficult. I think if there is a problem with cyclists and the leaf collection program, then it's something that we need to look at and make it better. One of the things we try to do is try to get people to not rake their leaves out weeks ahead of the time. One of the biggest culprits in that are these lawn companies that come in ... somebody hires a lawn company to do the lawn ... they come in three weeks before, and then take off. It's hard for us to police that. We're trying to work on education ...

HD: Yeah, well, I don't think I've ever seen the cycling safety issue discussed. When safety comes up in connection with this, typically what you'll see is, Cars parked over leaves are a fire hazard. Which seems a little 'out there', to me. But I've actually experienced the hazards as a cyclist of having to navigate around leaf piles. Especially when they get wet, they get slippery, as you pointed out. And a bicycle on a slippery surface, it's way more hazardous than in a car. Because you're on the pavement before you can do anything.

CE: To be honest, I don't think we've spent any time with that thought in mind.

HD: So just add that into the mix next time it comes up, if it comes up. So what is the status of this ACLU complaint that was filed last week? Do you know anything more than a complaint's been filed?

CE: Nothing as far as I know. I haven't heard. I had lunch with the city attorney the other day, and I don't think they've filed a lawsuit.

HD: So they've just filed a complaint with the ACLU, and I guess they follow up in some way?

CE: I haven't had any updates on whether they're actually going to file. I think our difficulty is, If everybody, if 10 speakers, were allowed to show a video, it would make the ability to get through our public discussions difficult.

HD: Why is that? Because they're not asking to show videos any longer than the already-allotted 3 minutes time slots, right? So, time-wise ... ?

CE: If you say, take your setup time, and walking up there, unplugging your cable, and the next person has to plug in their stuff and set their computer up, it actually is going to expand way beyond the three minutes they're allowed. I don't think, physically, you could argue that if you got 10 people up there with videos, that it'd stay within 30 minutes.

HD: Okay, so the way the time works then, when you start speaking somebody hits an egg timer?

CE: The city clerk has a button there. And there's a green, yellow, red light that comes on. It acutally shows the time you have left for the speaker.

HD: So it's a time argument.

CE: Well, yeah. I mean our agendas are so long and our meetings go long. We also have public speaking available at the end of the meeting. So people have the opportunity at the beginning and at the end. It's a time argument. A lot of times people, and I don't want to say 'all' the time, but there have been times when people who want to come speak to us on agenda items, stuff that we're actually voting on and considering, they haven't been able to get on to speak to us, because it's been filled up ...

HD: But that's part of the rules now, right?

CE: Yeah, we changed that. That was just changed two years ago to adjust that issue. To make sure that people feel like they're getting an opportunity to address an agenda item.

HD: So it seems to me like it could work if you said, Okay, we're going to start the time when you are announced as a speaker. And, you know, if you want to spend a minute and a half of that time screwing around with computer cables, and setting up equipment, then that's your time to use as you see fit. So just basically enforce the time that way?

CE: I suppose we could do that. And I think we really haven't had the discussion about, What are we doing here? I think that most people feel that, and my instinct is, that we're hearing people walk up and have a conversation. Movies and videos and presentations, I don't think people expected that. You know, whether we should change that and allow that? That's a good discussion.

HD: I guess, as a city council person, and I guess this goes back to your original point that all criticism is fair if you're willing to take this job, which is fairly well thankless as best I can figure ...

CE: ... I can assure you of that! That's not why you do it.

HD: But putting myself in the shoes of a councilperson, if you say half the slots are going to be filled with videos, that'd mean that, you know, it's going to be a change of pace, there might be some entertainment value, it might be more interesting than somebody just standing there talking. Because the average citizen isn't necessarily going to be well-spoken, isn't necessarily going to feel comfortable doing that. But they might feel comfortable putting together a video that conveys what they have to say and showing that ...

CE: The lawyer in me will say that CTN always has concerns about obscenities being shown. Do we have to prescreen videos before they're run? You know it's on live TV ...

HD: ... yeah, but people can stand up there and spout profanity. I mean, there's that risk already, right?

CE: But not with the visual obscenity that's defined by the Supreme Court ...

HD: ... oh, you're talking about nudity ...

CE: ... so if somebody gets up there with an X-rated video and starts showing that, ...

HD: ... more people would attend city council meetings.

CE: Uhh, there would be a lot of attention, I'm sure.

HD: Exactly the wrong kind of attention, I guess.

CE: We have an interesting community. So I could see somebody trying to get some attention by doing something like that. So, I'm not saying, No, to it. I just think we have to be careful with it. And I, as a council member, just want to listen to what people's concerns are about living in Ann Arbor. That's first and foremost, because that's what I feel like people elected me to do ... is take care of my day-to-day stuff, make sound policy decisions on day-to-day stuff, on things we have control over. With our limited time ... because we have meetings that go late sometimes ...

HD: My sense is that there's less of that. When I first moved to Ann Arbor, the newspaper used to run a little graphic ...

CE: ... a little clock ...

HD: ... reporting the ending time of the meeting. But it seems like it's gotten at least somewhat better over the last few years? Is that fair to say?

CE: It is. Because we've really worked on trying to be more vigilant over our agenda, number one. And number two, we've changed our closed sessions. We were having closed sessions at like two in the morning, making decisions on lawsuits, and every body is just tired. So we said, No more after 11 o'clock, it's got to be done by 11. We've tried to get better about that. There's certain issues that are going to take us longer and make us go longer, but there's no more clocks in the newspaper.

HD: That's true. So my hope is that one of my totter guests is eventually going to announce that they're running for mayor. Could that possibly be you?

CE: Yes. When John Hieftje decides he doesn't want to run anymore!

HD: Okay, so not this cycle, in other words.

CE: Though I'm not sure that John has any plans to leave any time soon.

HD: Okay, do you know of anybody on the Democratic side that might be interested in challenging Mayor Hieftje? I mean everybody seems to agree that it's a good democratic exercise to have a healthy well-fought primary, so that people have a choice, but then nobody's raised their hand and said, Yes, I'll do that.

CE: John's been pretty popular. He's never lost a precinct. So I think people look at the practical exercise and say, Is this worth it? I mean he's been able to win every precinct in the entire city every time he's run. So that's quite a feat to accomplish to be able to beat him. So I don't know of anybody personally who might be interested in that. I'm sure I'll get an opponent or two this year.

HD: For the council?

CE: Yeah. You know people say, We want a Republican or a better balance on city council. When there was a balance of Republicans and Democrats, we had a common opponent, I don't want to say 'adversary'. But we had a common opponent. So Democrats were willing to work together and figure out their differences and go against a common opponent. Now that we don't have that common opponent, there's less sense of working together and it's, I want that seat and I want to put my progressive value stamp on that council now. That's why I think you're going to see a lot of primaries, because there is somewhat of a division in the Democratic Party in the city.

HD: Conan Smith, when he was here, characterized it as a split between traditional hard-core liberal Democrats and Clintonian New Age, Would you agree with that description of the split?

CE: I think you have such a spectrum of people on council right now from the very liberal to the DNC types. I think, there's no other game in town. So if you want to get in the game, you've got to run against somebody who's in your own party. I think in a small way, maybe, there is that split. If you look in every precinct in the city, I don't think people care. I think people want to know if you're getting the job done. They don't care if you're a Clinton Democrat or if you're ...

HD: ... but they do care that you're a Democrat as opposed to a Republican.

CE: Yeah, I think they make a values statement based on the D next to your name. They know that you're not going to vote to get rid of same-sex benefits, some of the important things that could affect the city, and that's good. But the bottom line is they want their garbage picked up, they want their sewers to work, they wants their streets plowed, they want certain services that they're paying taxes for. I don't know if that sounded too much like a political ad.

HD: I think it sounded great. Let's see, I think that's about all I've got. Well, I guess Calthorpe. But we've touched on some of the issues connected with Calthorpe but do you want to ...

CE: If you asked my colleagues individually, I'm not sure, but I'm not too pleased with it. We spent $200,000 for kind of a bunch of vague recommendations ...

HD: Well, the DDA spent most of the money, right?

CE: It's tax money that belongs to the citizens, so it's the same. To me, anyway. And I was hoping for a little more guidance.

HD: So you wanted more, not necessarily a recipe, but ...

CE: ... more structured guidance, more structured recommendations than, You kind of ought to do this, and maybe you should do that, ...

HD: So instead of, You should bake Christmas cookies! you wanted, You should bake Gingerbread cookies!

CE: Right. With a little extra sugar, and maybe frosting ...

HD: That's pretty specific. Is that your favorite Christmas cookie?

CE: You know, I'll eat anything. I don't have a favorite cookie, I'll eat any cookie.

HD: Well, you mentioned a donut earlier, did you actually have a donut this morning or were you just making a joke?

CE: No I actually did.

HD: Over at Washtenaw Dairy?

CE: My wife had some at home, but we love to go down to Washtenaw Dairy and my kids love to get the sprinkled donuts.

HD: I like Washtenaw Dairy donuts, but I never get ice cream there any more, because they give you too much.

CE: You gotta ask for the kids' cone.

HD: I just can't do that, I can't. I'm a grown man, I can't walk up to the guy and say, I want the kids' cone.

CE: I'll be happy to show up with my kids anytime and they'll stand next to you and that will make it look like ...

HD: I might actually collect on that offer.

CE: Well, that's what I do, then you don't feel like you're ...

HD: I'll give you a chance to back out now, because, I swear to God, I will knock on your door next summer and ...

CE: ... well, there's never a bad time for my family to go to Washtenaw Dairy, because we do it all the time in the summer and the donuts are a big thing.

HD: We'll let donuts be the last word.