Comments (5) 11:00 AM posted by admin |
The Ypsilanti Citizen (virtually located in Ypsilanti for your convenience) recently ran a news article about the most recent Ypsilanti City Council meeting wherein about 25 people showed up in support of Brandy’s Liquor Store. You see, after five years of constant complaints as well as having the pleasure of being the number one party store in town for calls for police service, the City decided to do something about it.
Brandy’s Liquor Store has long been the bane of existence for some residents of Ypsilanti’s Midtown Neighborhood Association. Depending on who you talk to, they’ll tell you that drug dealing goes occurs all day long in the parking lot. They’ll tell you the place is dirty and strewn with trash. They’ll tell you that as the gateway to their neighborhood, it’s a detriment to the area.
Brandy’s Liquor Store has also been a life line to many residents on the other side of Michigan Avenue. At Tuesday’s Council meeting we heard testimony about how the owners will give people tabs when money is tight at the end of the month. We heard how respectful the owners are to their customers. We heard how the owners were doing everything they can possibly do keep the place safe but weren’t getting the cooperation necessary from the Ypsilanti Police Department.
At the end of the day, I don’t care so much about everyone’s perceptions as I care about Ypsilanti.
One of the most frustrating things about being on Council is that not only do people get all pissed off when we don’t act fast enough, it seems like some people get even more pissed off when we react at all. It’s part of the job, but we need to lead better.
The problems surrounding Brandy’s aren’t recent. According to the police, some of these issues have existed for over five years. If you read the most recent Council Information Letter, you’ll see the first seven pages of a ninety-three page nuisance complaint the City has filed against Brandy’s. There is a hearing schedule for mid-December to determine whether or not the store should be padlocked and closed as a result of the activity occuring there. The reason the entire brief was not included because it was too large for the City Attorney’s office to email (the Washtenaw County email system simply wouldn’t handle it). The brief includes some amazing claims, including:
- On October 20th, 2008, Officer Joe Yuhas made an arrest of a suspect inside BRANDY’S for possession of crack cocaine.
- The proprietors of BRANDY’S have allowed drug dealers to hide in the walk-in cooler to avoid police when the police arrive.
- The proprietors of BRANDY’S maintain the “appearance” of video surveillance; however, the system is consistently either broken or positioned in a manner as to not deter narcotics activity at the premises.
I should make it crystal clear that as an Ypsilanti City Council member I am inclined to believe my police department and support them.
The calls for service to Brandy’s since January 1, 2007 have been significant as compared to other party stores in town.
- 204 Brandy’s, 902 West Michigan Avenue
- 77 Eagles Market, 501 West Cross Street
- 70 Cal’s Party Store & Deli, 915 West Michigan Avenue
- 53 Joe’s Market, 454 South Huron Street
- 43 Tom’s Party Store, 500 West Cross Street
- 34 Mike’s Party Store, 224 West Michigan Avenue
When building a nuisance case like this, everything is fair game. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, but the claims are obviously inflated because so much scrutiny is being placed on Brandy’s. The place has gained a reputation, and as a consequence, the police are watching it. I’d argue that’s what is supposed to happen. If you want to make progress, you need to attack the number one problem.
I may have been the one to throw a monkey wrench in the works when during Council proposed business I suggested the Human Relations Commission take a look at this concern. When the new Charter was adopted back in the day, it included the creation of a Human Relations Commission. In the past thirteen years, they have been underutilized. I felt that part of the problem was a lack of communication between two different sides of Michigan Avenue. I was hoping the HRC could help faciliate that missing communication. I wasn’t expecting what happened next.
We listened to the mob.
Twenty-five people poured out in support of Brandy’s Liquor Store and even though this issue has existed for the past five years, we decided to give the owners of Brandy’s sixty more days to clean up their act. I suggested continuing on a parallel path and go to court in December in order to begin to seriously resolve this issue. In the end, no one agreed with me and we went with the sixty day reprieve. I voted for the delay, but it gives me the option to bring this back for a new vote at the December 2nd meeting.
Oh, the December 2nd meeting.
If we were worried about a mob speaking in support of Brandy’s, what in the hell are we going to do when the entire Midtown Neighborhood Association shows up and speaks out against Brandy’s? It is a virtual lock that will happen. The day after the Council meeting the phone calls and emails were already beginning. We’re going to have competing mobs asking for two polar opposite outcomes.
We’ve set the precedent that we’ll let the mob rule.
What’s even more puzzling is that despite the amount of City staff time that was spent on preparing a ninety-three page complaint and scheduling a court hearing as well as the numerous meetings over the past two years, a sixty day stay was agreed to by the City Attorney, City Manager, Mayor, and Council without any resistance. The work won’t be lost because we won’t have to start over, but it makes you wonder why it was important enough to spend time and money on the first place if it wasn’t important enough to at least argue that the matter should continue to court. This was the third time this year the City Attorney put a lot of work into something only to brushed aside by Council. It makes you wonder if it wouldn’t be a good idea to consult Council before giving the City Attorney research practice, but I digress.
In the mean time, I would encourage everyone to stop in at Brandy’s Liquor Store and buy something and share your feelings one way or the other with the owners. Lack of communication has a lot to do with this issue not being resolved yet.