Category Archives: Ypsilanti

“Arbor Brewing Co. (aka The Corner Brewery) presents a case study in local business ethics and crowdfunding”

In Ypsilanti news comes “Arbor Brewing Co. presents a case study in local business ethics and crowdfunding” the Detroit alternative newspaper metrotimes. I thought I’d share it here because I know that the ABC Microbrewery (aka The Corner) is a place popular with EMU-types. I know the EMU-AAUP has had functions there, my department has hosted at least one official retirement party there (and a lot of unofficial gatherings as well), I’ve met with graduate students there, etc. This article makes me think that maybe it would be best to stop doing those things.

Here’s a long quote from the beginning:

Arbor Brewing Co. owners Matt and Rene Greff’s decision to ask customers to chip in $75,000 via Indiegogo to upgrade ABC Microbrewery’s piecemeal, partly outdoor kitchen to a safer, enclosed space, has sparked a lively discussion among customers and business associates in the Ann Arbor area.

Some labeled the campaign and the Greffs “scummy.” Others swore off ABC’s beer altogether. And many more simply muttered their disapproval, especially as posts celebrating the couple’s globetrotting popped up on social media, and they diverted resources to help open a brewery in Bangalore, India.

At the heart of that debate was the ethics of crowdfunding campaigns and the question: When does it become unethical for an established business to turn to sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to fund basic improvements or expansions?

But ABC went beyond that gray area. A current employee who wished not to be identified tells the Metro Times that the Greffs charted new territory by pressuring staff earning less than a living wage ($9 an hour) to help pay to improve their own work conditions in a kitchen that lacked basics, like walls.

The staffer says employees were then asked to solicit funds from family and friends, and each was given an individual link to the Indiegogo page that would monitor their pull.

Then, with the goal met, the Greffs pink-slipped the kitchen staff.

As that unfolded, it was also revealed to MT that the Greffs have yet to pay back a dime to investors who in 2003 helped finance ABC Microbrewery’s 2006 opening. Mark Maynard, a widely read Ypsilanti blogger, and former Ypsilanti City Councilmember Barry LaRue say they, along with others, each put up at least $10,000 and signed a repayment plan stating investors would triple their money by 2016.

I had heard of the crowdsourcing thing earlier, either on Facebook or markmaynard.com, I can’t remember which. But what I recall at the time thinking was I suppose if people want to give what looks ostensibly like a successful business crowd funding money to be even more successful, well, I guess that’s their right. And maybe there’s a place for it for loved local businesses that have fallen on hard times– for example, Blimpy Burger reopened in Ann Arbor in part as a result of such a campaign.

But I don’t know, this doesn’t sound right to me. I want to support local businesses of course, and The Corner is just a great space for meeting with folks. It’s not quite as crowded and, well, “bar-like” as a regular bar like The Wurst Bar or The Sidetrack or what-have-you, and they also have beer. It’s a neat place to hang out. On the other hand, this article makes the Greffs look pretty sleazy and like borderline crooks to me. I want to patronize cool and local places, but I also don’t want to be taken advantage of by the owners complaining about not paying off their investors or building a kitchen for their employees while sitting on an airplane sipping Bloody Marys on their way to India to open a brewpub.

Hopefully local boy Mark Maynard will have something to say about all this soon.

More about and in memory of Jordan Hopkins and Shannise Heady

From mLive comes a couple of stories about the EMU students who died over the weekend in a car accident on Hewitt Road in Ypsilanti, Shannise Heady and Jordan Hopkins. The death of young people like this so in their prime is always sad of course, but I find it even more disturbing to learn that the investigation has revealed that the two were not wearing seat belts and they were going too fast.

Also related is this story about where the accident happened, “Crash that killed EMU students is 4th fatal in just over 2 years on stretch of Hewitt Road.” It is a pretty notoriously dangerous area (at least for locals like me), and I think the Washtenaw County Sheriff detective they interviewed for this, Doug McMullen, seems oddly defensive about the problem being all about the drivers.

“2 EMU students, including women’s basketball player, killed in overnight Ypsilanti Township crash”

I just checked mLive to find this sad piece of news:  “2 EMU students, including women’s basketball player, killed in overnight Ypsilanti Township crash.”

“Pizza delivery man robbed at gunpoint at Peninsular Place”

From mLive comes “Pizza delivery man robbed at gunpoint at Peninsular Place.” I thought I’d share this story of crime at everyone’s “favorite” apartment complex for two reasons. First, the good news is that the police arrested the two guys suspected in the robbery, which, when you think about it for a second, shouldn’t be that hard to do. I mean, the pizza guy who was robbed presumably has the address of the robbers, right?

Second, the pizza guy in question, who identifies himself as “Nate,” posted in the comment section about the robbery. At least I assume that’s the guy.

“Video: Woman’s curse-laden tirade at Ypsilanti McDonald’s goes viral”

Via a friend of mine on the book of face, I learned about this in mLive, “Video: Woman’s curse-laden tirade at Ypsilanti McDonald’s goes viral.” Here’s a quote:

A woman had some serious beef with employees at an Ypsilanti McDonald’s recently.

Eastern Michigan University student Janae Sims took video of the woman going on a cuss-filled tirade at the McDonald’s, located at 1070 Huron River Drive, on Dec. 23.

On Dec. 24, Sims posted the video on her Facebook page. As of Jan. 7, the video has been viewed 9,053,002 times and shared 215,539.

Sims agreed to share the video with The Ann Arbor News/MLive.com, but did not wish to be interviewed.

The video link I have here is actually from YouTube– easier to share.

Needless to say, the woman’s anger here is way over the top and quite profane. But I will admit that I too get angry when McDonald’s messes up my order.

Ypsi cops to wear body cameras; Chris Rock interview raises a couple of interesting points to share here

This is kind of a tangent post (as I really try to keep this site pretty squarely about EMU most of the time), but given some of the conversation/campus events lately, I thought I’d go ahead and point these things out.

First, it turns out that “Ypsilanti police will be wearing body cameras by March.” This story is from mLive, but I’ve heard about it on NPR too. I believe Ypsi is the first place in Michigan where this is happening. No one should kid themselves into thinking that this is going to “solve” the problem of police shootings like what happened in Ferguson, but a) if Darren Wilson had been wearing a body camera, I think we would have had at least some additional evidence about what happened when Michael Brown was killed, and b) when cops have had to wear body cameras (notably in California), incidents of police brutality/shootings went down like 80% (though I don’t have that citation on that one right in front of me or anything).

Second, there’s a great interview of Chris Rock making the rounds now that is totally worth reading even if you are only sorta/kinda a fan. One loyal EMUTalk.org reader suggested I share it because of what he had to say about college campuses:

What do you make of the attempt to bar Bill Maher from speaking at Berkeley for his riff on Muslims?

Well, I love Bill, but I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.

In their political views?

Not in their political views—not like they’re voting Republican—but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.

When did you start to notice this?

About eight years ago. Probably a couple of tours ago. It was just like, This is not as much fun as it used to be. I remember talking to George Carlin before he died and him saying the exact same thing.

I think he kind of has a point, though I personally think Maher’s “riff on Muslims” was pretty ignorant.

Then there’s also a longer (too long for me to just cut and paste) and interesting take on the mess in Ferguson. Among other things, Chris Rock says if he was reporting on it, he’s interview white people because “We know how black people feel about Ferguson.” Smart stuff.

Any midterm election thoughts?

I don’t have a lot of them, frankly. I think this has been a pretty non-event midterm elections.

As this piece from Addicting Info I came across on Facebook points out, the Republicans who have now won control of both the Senate and the House need to be careful what they wished for since it’s a lot harder to lead than it is to complain. Besides, the president’s party has always lost control of Congress in midterm elections since FDR.

I was a little disappointed that the Snyder-Schauer race wasn’t closer, but it is what it is. Given that Michigan government has been controlled by Republicans at all levels for a while now, I don’t see a whole lot of changes to higher ed issues in the state. And on the up-side, Terri Lynn Land got crushed, there were lots of progressive causes that did pass around the U.S. (minimum wage, legalizing pot, etc.).

I guess it’s also cool that (as mLive reported) “Nicole Brown elected to represent Ypsilanti’s First Ward in landslide victory.” I didn’t really know anything about Brown until this article, but she’s a 26 year old with essentially no previous experience. Frankly, I think given the state of affairs in Ypsilanti– hanging on the edge of financial solvency, for example– it might not be a bad idea to get some young people/fresh blood in there. And if “these kids” Nicole Brown and new mayor Amanda Edmonds drive this Ypsi bus into the ditch, well, then the old guard will have the pleasure of saying “I told ya so.”

“5 Local Blogs You Need To Be Reading”

Via Mark Maynard’s blog I came across this nice little piece in the local online magazine/site Concentrate, “5 Local Blogs You Need To Be Reading.” I of course knew/know about Mark’s site and Damn Arbor, but I didn’t know anything about the other ones. I had no idea that Juan Cole’s blog/site got over 600,000 views a month. Anyway, go check them out.

By the way, just in case you’re curious: EMUTalk gets on average somewhere around 7,000 hits a month, but it varies a lot depending on the time of the year. In the midst of the school year and if there’s something going on, it’s more like 10,000-12,000, and sometimes a lot more; in the summer and/or when not much is happening, it’s more like 4,000-5,000.

What’s the deal with “Ypsi the Klown?”

I’ve seen a couple of articles– this one in The Echo, and this one from the Ypsilanti Courier (which is where the picture comes from)– about “Ypsi the Klown.” I saw a couple of fliers in Pray-Harrold advertising Ypsi the Klown for the Homecoming court (I assume he lost).

So, what’s the deal with this guy? And is he on campus much? I haven’t seen him yet, though I’m working a lot more from home this term, so maybe it’s just me.

“Ypsilanti City Council Member Susan Moeller resigns”

A sort of Ypsilanti and EMU story: from mLive, “Ypsilanti City Council Member Susan Moeller resigns.” I assume most regular readers know this, but Moeller is also the former president of the EMU-AAUP and I think she is currently the treasurer. A quote from the article:

“After much thought, I have decided that I need to resign my position on the city council for personal reasons. The care of my elderly parents and a bedridden aunt requires too much of my time and attention,” Moeller wrote. “I believe someone else from Ward 2 would be better able to represent the residents as I am not able at this time to give the position proper attention.

“I enjoyed working with all of you and wish you all the best in the coming year.”