Torture and Terror

With all the hullabaloo about the bailout plan in the news, you may have missed what Michigan’s own Senator Carl Levin released to the New York Times yesterday. As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee investigating the abuse of detainees in American custody, Levin released a list of answers provided by Condoleezza Rice and John B. Bellinger III, the former top lawyer at the National Security Council, to detailed questions by that committee about “harsh interrogation techniques.”

Mr. Levin said the new documents showed that top Bush administration officials were more actively engaged in the debate about the limits of lawful interrogation than the White House had previously acknowledged.

"So far, there has been little accountability at higher levels,” Mr. Levin said. “Here you’ve got some evidence that there was discussion about those harsh techniques in the White House.”

They're Bona Fide ... To Fix Your Sidewalk


You've probably seen those "o" marks on the sidewalks of Tree Town lately. The marks signify that the sidewalks are in need of repair. The City of Ann Arbor has posted procedures for property owners to follow and a very useful 2008 Contractor Pre-Qualified List For Sidewalk Repairs. If you have any questions, phone the Planning Dept. at 734.994.2674.

Affordable Housing in Ann Arbor


The Housing and Human Services Advisory Board will hold a Public Meeting on Tuesday, May 13, 6 - 8:30 p.m. to discuss recommendations on the replacement of the 100-affordable housing units at the former YMCA. The meeting will be held at the Washtenaw County Building, 200 N. Main, Lower Level Conference Room. Following a 15-minute presentation, the public is invited to comment. CTN will replay the meeting throughout the week.

Speed Limit Largesse


Following a traffic study by the Michigan State Police, there are some new Speed Limit Changes in Ann Arbor. Washtenaw Avenue speed limits will increase slightly and the City will have new signs up by mid-April. Questions about the changes should be sent to Project Manager Homayoon Pirooz at

Tree Town Town Hall Meeting


Participate in democracy. Attend the annual State of the City meeting on Wednesday, April 9, 7-9 p.m. at City Hall. City officials will discuss budget and financial forecasts, government operations and take questions from citizens. CTN will air the taped meeting throughout the week.

Construction Ahead ~ Learn All About It


Huron River Drive road improvements begin May, 2008, and the City is hosting a Public Information Meeting on Wednesday, April 2, 2008 from 6 - 8 p.m. at Forsythe Middle School. During the construction, HRD from Main Street to Bird Road will be closed to traffic. The detour route for eastbound HRD traffic will be Maple-Dexter-Huron-Main. The detour route for westbound HRD traffic will be Main-Miller-Maple.

Find out what it's like to run for President . . . of the Czech Republic!

Jan SvejnarJan Svejnar

We nearly had yet another president in our midst right here in Ann Arbor. Unlike Michigan native son Gerald Ford, however, Jan Svejnar was running for president of the Czech Republic. Svejnar is an economist and professor at UM's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. He was narrowly defeated in his bid for the Czech presidency. Svejnar will be chatting about his experiences in an upcoming event at the Ford School.

Running for the Czech Presidency
March 12, 2008, 5-6p
Betty Ford Classroom, 1110 Weill Hall
735 South State Street, Ann Arbor

P.S. Weill Hall is the shiny new building on the southwest corner of UM's central campus.

2008 Property Assessments: The Story Behind the Story


Proposal A may confuse and confound us in new ways this year as local governments wrestle with changes in assessed and taxable value. The City of Ann Arbor has a press release that explains the process and provides helpful examples for homeowners. The City Assessor's web page has an FAQ and Online Assessment and Property Tax Database where you can look up info on your property.

The R-word

The R-word - recession, that is - has been bantered about a lot more recently. With job losses, a pitiful housing market, and the subprime mortgage crisis, its prominence isn't overly surprising, nor is politicians' desire for a bit of economic development. It also is not surprising that people aren't really in a spending mood right now, which further risks bringing about the R-word. In hopes staving off said recession, the House has passed a "stimulus package" that could result in a $600 check appearing in your mailbox. Providing that the Senate agrees, that is.

A $600 check does sound mighty nice. But the question is, will you spend it? The "stimulus" part of the economic stimulus depends on us going right out and buying that new ipod or laptop. Of course, with the economy as rotten as it is, some might want to save it for a rainy day.

So, what if you got a big, fat $600 check in the mail? Would you save it? Spend it? If so, on what? Let's see if Congress' plan is really going to work.

'Tis the season to abolish the IRS

If you check out Amazon's business bestseller page, you'll spot an as-yet-unpublished volume on the so-called fair tax leading the pack. Even if you're not a tax policy wonk, you may have heard the term. And you likely heard it from Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee, who wants to implement such a plan.

Fair tax proponents want to eliminate the IRS and the income tax. They want to replace them with a nationwide sales tax of about 23%. The advantages of the tax, supporters say, is that it's much simpler and won't discourage saving. Not so fast, say critics. The less fortunate among us spend more of our income, so the tax ends up being regressive, even if you include rebates for the poor. Still, with tax season in full swing, many Americans may invite a simpler tax system, even if it's not quite perfect.

Want to learn more? Boortz & Linder, authors of the new book, have delved into this topic before. You can check out their first book from us!

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