Aug. 17 2009 12:00 AM

An aggregator of Lansing government happenings

First, a bit of harrowing news out of City Council: Vice President and Third Ward Councilwoman A’Lynne Robinson was absent from Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting and Monday night’s regular meeting. On Monday, First Ward Councilman Eric Hewitt announced that Robinson was absent due to surgery. Finding out the circum stances of her absence was a bit tricky as one Council member refused to say (even though this particular Council member said that some of Robinson’s constituents were wondering where she had been, which caused this reporter to have visions of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford) and another would not go on the record, citing the Health Insurance Portabilit
and Accountability Act.
But, alas, posted on Robinson’s Facebook page July 20:

“At the ER ... vomitting and stomach excruciating pain. In this ER in Jackson I have been poked 3 times to try to get an IV in still to no avail.”

And from Monday: “

Had Emergency surgery. Cut from top of ribs to belly button ... 25 stitches later back home with some strong meds. It was a ‘kink’ in the intestines.”

At any rate, Hewitt said he saw Robinson on Saturday and she’s doing fine and
hopes to be back at work soon.

At Thursday’s CoW was a gripping
discussion on some big development projects going on around town. The
Council called in Economic Development Corp. CEO Bob Trezise to give details on the Accident Fund project and Capitol Club Tower, which inevitably led to tangential discussions about other development-related issues.

it appears that the demolition of the North Grand parking ramp
extension will start in August. One piece of the project, a parking
ramp, is stalled due to, as Trezise said, the “national financing crisis.”

More interestingly, the Council asked Trezise about what would happen to the Accident Fund’s big, silver Robocop headquarters on Capitol Avenue once the company relocates to Ottawa Power Station. Trezise said he could not talk about it — but Mayor Virg Bernero on the City Pulse radio show last Wednesday said that whatever it was would bring 400 new jobs.

things come together, it will be really nice for downtown” was all
Trezise would say.

It doesn’t appear that there’s any movement on the
construction of the Capitol Club Tower, even though, as part of the
project, the old City Club building has been razed and the now-privately owned South Grand parking ramp has been rehabbed by the project’s developers.

Second Ward Councilwoman Sandy Allen asked Trezise if the Stadium District development has been filled: “It’s not totally filled, but it’s probably getting close,” he said. At-Large Councilman Brian Jeffries asked about the lease between developers Joel Ferguson and Gary Granger and the state over the state police headquarters: Finance Director Jerry Ambrose answered, saying that it was still tied up in the Legislature.

Also last week, Mayor Virg Bernero received three more endorsements, including the Michigan Education Association (teachers’ union), Service Employees International Union and the local International Association of Fire Fighters 421. At the firefighters press conference — held on the noisy and
trafficky sidewalk outside fire station No. 1 — Bernero announced his
record of maintaining or increasing the public safety departments in
Lansing. However, the head of 421, Brian Eppling, said
that during the first few months of Bernero’s term, a contract
negotiation resulted in cutting the number of firefighters on duty on
any given day from 53 to 52, which lead to the elimination of one position — an incident safety officer, Eppling said — whose duties were taken on by a battalion chief.

At Monday’s City Council meeting a rare occurrence: a petition was
submitted with 4,520 signatures, passing the benchmark of having more
than 5 percent of registered voters. What does that mean? The petition
would create an ordinance for “complete streets” —making streets safer
for bicyclists and pedestrians — in Lansing, which can
be voted up (yes) or down (no) by Council, or the body can put it on
the ballot Nov. 3. However, Council has had trouble in the past with up or down votes, meaning — and this is just a theory so far — that this could potentially be this year’s Frances Park, Lansing City Market or North Capitol Parking ramp; or, in short, politically damaging to those who might vote against it. The evidence to support that this might be a grenade: It
takes a lot of effort, time and organization to get 4,520 people to
sign a petition. Also, when this was brought up Monday night, the “up
or down” option seemed to chafe some on the Council. And, “complete streets” is a nice idea in its own right, but there’s evidence to suggest it might not be enough. Whether it’s a grenade or earnest activism by bikers and walkers, we’ll have to wait and see.