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William Milliken, Jr., WCC Trustee Candidate

William Milliken, Jr., is an incumbent Trustee, first elected to the Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees in November 2016. I provided Mr. Milliken with a questionnaire regarding his candidacy; however, he did not return it. He currently serves as the Chair of the WCC Board of Trustees. In his most recent appointment, Mr. Milliken offers the following information:

” Bill Milliken was elected a Washtenaw Community College trustee in 2016. He is president of Milliken Realty Co., an Ann Arbor commercial real estate brokerage firm which he founded in 1996. He sits on the executive committee of the National Association of Realtors and was nominated for the Association’s Distinguished Service Award (DSA). Bill was 2019 chair of NAR’s Commercial Committee. Previously he was an NAR Regional Vice-President for Region 6. He served as the 100th president of the 30,000 member Michigan Realtors in 2013. Bill launched real his estate career in Ann Arbor in 1987. Previously, he worked in Washington, D.C. for NASA, and the U.S. Dept. of Justice. Bill is a director of the CCIM Foundation, chair of CCIM’s International Activities Committee and served three terms on the board of the CCIM Institute; he has done trade missions to Taipei (2015) and Mexico (2016) and was a delegate on CCIM’s trade mission to China in 2006. He was named REALTORS®-of-the-Year by the Michigan Commercial Board of REALTORS®, and Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors, respectively. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed Bill to a 6-year term on the Mackinac Bridge Authority last year. He is a board member of New Detroit; and Groundwork Center. He served as president of the Commercial Board of REALTORS®; a director of Republic Bancorp, and; board chair of the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce. He is a licensed private pilot and has visited all 50 states.”

William Milliken, Jr.: Meeting attendance and voting record as a WCC Trustee

Of the six hundred recorded votes by the WCC Board of Trustees during his term (through June 30, 2022), Milliken has cast 547 votes, and was absent for 9% of the Board votes. Milliken has established an interest in commercializing property on the edges of the Washtenaw Community College campus. And building a hotel and conference center on campus. In that regard, his influence on the current WCC Master Plan is evident.

Milliken votes in a block with Trustees Angela Davis, Christina Fleming, Richard Landau, and Dianna McKnight Morton, and has cast just one “No” vote during his tenure on the WCC Board of Trustees. The reliability of his “Yes” votes should be a concern to anyone who elects WCC Trustees with the expectation that they think and vote independently, and act in the best interests of the Washtenaw County taxpayers.

Milliken is quiet on most issues brought before the Board, and his acting leaves something to be desired. If you are not concerned with how the WCC Administration will spend the $375M in property taxes it will collect between 2023 and 2028, Milliken’s 99.8% “Yes” voting record should not be a problem for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for real, honest-to-God oversight from a WCC Trustee, Ado Annie might not be for you.

Like Trustee Angela Davis, Milliken voted to authorize the $26M no-bid outsourcing contract for Ellucian, and the accompanying “blank check” buyout for the employees who lost their jobs as a result. (The buyout cost was $2.6M.) He also voted to eliminate the Culinary Arts program and provide subsidies for out-of-district and out-of-state students. If this sounds familiar, this is all the same stuff Trustee Davis voted to support because Davis and Milliken vote the same way on virtually everything.

Other bits you should know before you vote

In the past, Milliken has given WCC the bill for his trips to the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual policy conference on Mackinac Island. As it turns out, WCC is an “Elite Member” of the Detroit Regional Chamber. Not saying that the conference is a poor use of Washtenaw County’s tax dollars, but it does raise the question of how much WCC paid to be an “Elite Member” of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Washtenaw Community College was the only community college sponsor of this event. There are other community colleges that have Detroit Regional Chamber memberships – Wayne, Oakland, Macomb Henry Ford, Schoolcraft– but they have all settled for lesser “Premier” and “General” memberships. Since WCC is in a “rich community” and gets a “boatload of money” from the Washtenaw County taxpayers, a hyper-expensive “Elite” membership is clearly WCC’s only realistic option.

On the plus side, it allows someone at WCC to rub elbows with executives from the likes of AT&T, Bank of America, Delta Airlines, DTE, the Big Three, Toyota, etc. (It probably also permits some kind of line-jumping in front of the other community colleges at Chamber events.)

And just to be clear, the Detroit Regional Chamber operates a large Political Action Committee that provides significant funding to Republican office seekers and office holders. More importantly, a portion of all membership dues go to the DRC’s PAC. And the PAC hosts the annual policy conference/fundraiser on Mackinac Island. So, why does a community college in heavily Democratic Ann Arbor need to be an “Elite Member” of a group whose political donations end up in the hands of Republican candidates?

Bill Milliken: campaign finance filings

You can follow this link to see William Milliken’s campaign finance filings. As you can see, he has received substantial financial support from the real estate lobby. Years ago, it became apparent to me that real estate agents were grossly over-represented among candidates for local elected boards that have taxing authority. Apparently, it is a thing.

Milliken certainly has political connections, but it does not seem like his voting record focuses on what is best for WCC students and the lower income households in Washtenaw County.

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Photo Credit: Detroit Regional Chamber, via Flickr