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February03 (Feb. 18-22)



Tuesday, September 30, 2003

The Ann Arbor Police are hoping somebody will provide them information about the suspicious fire that destroyed the former Technology Center, a large building a couple blocks west of Main Street formerly home to a variety of artist studios, practice spaces, and warehouse units. Purchased by the YMCA for their new building, the Technology Center burned while it was being demolished late last summer.

"Someone knows more about the fire in the community that could assist the police department in the investigation," Monroe said. "If they understood the risk to the firefighters, neighborhoods and homes, I'm sure they would feel obligated to come forward."

Authorities are also looking at a one-page flier that was posted up and down Washington Street near the ruins of the complex in the days after the fire. "ATTENTION ALL GAWKERS," it began, and continued by bemoaning the loss of the "living, breathing, creative space."

The flier does not take responsibility for the fire, but notes, "In the end, this building got to leave on its own terms, in a burst of artistic irony. No bulldozers determined its fate, just pure hot flame."

In related news, the city council is finally realizing the AATA intends to tear down the low income housing units in the old YMCA building, and seems to be entertaining the idea of purchasing the building outright. ("Housing conflicts may stall new YMCA")

While I'm not sure how it could best be managed, it seems to me a compromise could be found: part of the property could be sold to the AATA for an expanded bus station, the current low-income housing units could be preserved, and some of the old Y building could be rented for general commercial use, to compensate for the loss of the Technology Center. While such pipe dreams would require extremely innovative site planning, I'm sure somebody at the Taubman College would be willing to put their mind to it.

Posted by Rob at 9:03 PM

A 70-year-old probate judge died at last weekend's Indiana-Michigan football game, apparently of a heart attack.

It's also time for ... Student Ghetto Break-ins:

"800 block of Tappan Street, 1:27 p.m. Sunday. Entry through unlocked back door; two purses with cash and keys taken.

1300 block of Wilmot Street, 11:52 p.m. Saturday. Screen removed from window; laptop computer valued at $1,400 taken.

600 block of East William Street, 12:07 p.m. Saturday. No signs of forced entry to business; consumable goods valued at $180 and $20 cash taken.

500 block to Benjamin Street, 8 a.m. Saturday. Entry through unlocked door; laptop computer, cell phone, wireless card, purse and contents, and a gift card taken. Total value: $2,785"
(From the AANews)

Posted by Rob at 7:11 AM

Monday, September 29, 2003

Michigan Review Assistant Editor Matt Mulder has started what he describes as "Michigan's Only Men's Magazine," a Michigan-oriented online magazine for men. The inaugural issue is already online, and features a review of Outkast's latest CD, a piece complaining about the athletic department's student ticketing policies, and a sex advice column ("What's the big deal with women and porn?"), among others. Where, exactly did the idea for the magazine come from? Mulder explains:

"The founding moments of this magazine were the essence of the college male:

We were sitting around, eating pizza, drinking beer, and watching Sports Center. We were laughing, pushing each other around, and taking every opportunity to make fun of each other. We were devilish, confident, and completely irreverent.

We were having one of those conversations that all college guys have—the one where we all mention in jest cool ideas that were just cool enough to never be acted upon. You know, ideas like having a goat at our next house party, or planning a panty raid at the Kappa house for later that night. Those type of ideas.

Then I opened my mouth: “Hey, what we should really do is start a men’s magazine for the University of Michigan. We could all write whatever the hell we wanted, and we could get girls to pose for us. Hell, we could even get a real men’s magazine to sponsor us. It would be tight.”
Then, several months later, I was sitting at home and was completely bored. When I get bored, my imagination takes over, and for the split seconds that I can actually block girls out of my mind, I am able to think with much clarity and foresight. As such, I realized that making this idea a reality is simpler than I could have ever imagined ... "

Well, I don't know about you, but ESPN's Sports Center is essential to my life. Add Mich Magazine to the "Ann Arbor Paper," and "Moment," a progressive political journal, as publications launched this year. Meanwhile, on the list of the recently departed, the Michigan Independent seems to have finally died, and The Agenda hasn't been published for over a year, as far as I know.

Posted by Rob at 10:04 PM

Would you like to live in the Corner House Lofts now under construction on State Street? The 2 and 3-bedroom apartments, featuring 9-foot ceilings, central air conditioning, and on-site laundry will be avaliable from CMB management, although their website omits to say when the building will be completed, or what the rent will be. They also have posted a large architectural drawing of the building.

Posted by Rob at 9:24 PM

A couple photos: the Geoff Larcom ad, and a photo of the Planada Building taken today, slated for demolition sometime this fall.

Posted by Rob at 3:38 PM

This event looks interesting ...

"GREAT EVENT This Monday night! Come see our FABULOUS State Rep Chris Kolb debate Republican UM Regent Andrew Richner! MONDAY NIGHT 7p.m. in Hale Auditorium at the B-School. The topic is "Government's Role in the Future of Business" so come with lots of questions about corporate responsibility! Sponsored by Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity."

Posted by Rob at 10:19 AM

I thought I'd note another Ann Arbor-related blog I've come across recently. Former resident Richard James Murphy writes about a variety of issues including planning on his blog "Common Monkeyflower," recently commenting on my posts about Jane Jacobs and sidewalk safety, and land economics and the "Corner House Lofts" on State Street.

Posted by Rob at 9:11 AM

Modernism at Michigan

I wrote the following for an art history course I'm taking, but I thought visitors of this website may be interested it part of it. I begin after my professor asked me if I agreed with a quote from Le Corbusier's "Towards a New Architecture," one of the most influential manifestos of "modern" architecture.

"The modern student is in any case included to protest against an old-world Oxford … What the student wants is a monk's cell, well lit and heated, with a corner from which he can look at the stars. He wants to find opportunity for games with his fellow students at a stone's throw. His cell should be self-contained, as far as possible." (P. 260)

I don't agree. A primary gripe I have with Le Corbusier is that he presumes to know what people desire in architecture. As an example, I was struck by the variety of reactions I saw among my classmates at the Mies Van de Rohe buildings at Lafayette Park; some expressed obvious disdain ("It looks like an office building") while others obviously liked the buildings, making comments about how “nice” the area was, and how different it seemed than the neighborhoods just a few blocks away.


To return to the Le Corbusier quote, his bold claims make me want to ask “who does he think he is to presume to know what the “modern student” desires?” While from a theoretical perspective it's certainly interesting, it takes on a quite disturbing aura when you know he and others will take his ideas seriously and design buildings like Bursley and South Quad, which can be characterized as cement-block honeycombs of the “monk's cells” that Le Corbusier thought would suit every student's need. Yes, both of my rooms in these buildings (my freshman and sophomore years) were well lit and heated, and both had a window to the outside, but I found them lacking. For example, it took almost 15 minutes for me to visit a friend on the other side of Bursley (plenty of light and air for all!) including what I thought an unnecessary set of two 40 foot walkway connecting each wing to the central building.

I also found the highly rigid design of South Quad frustrating. The atomized design of the hallways had a very real social impact: the hall I lived was shaped like an “L” and we used to joke that the people who lived near me on one side didn't know the people who lived on the other side, only 30 feet away! Having lived in a “suite-style” dorms in the past, I know they can at least can provide the space for a slightly richer level of interaction with ones' neighbors. There is also the phenomenon in South Quad of staircases that only connect a few floors, probably some modernists idea of creating “houses.” (Not unlike the Detroit Planning commission's desire to carve up the city into “Neighborhoods” in the 1940s) A resident or visitor of the building finding him or herself on the fifth floor and wanting to go to the fourth discovers that, from the main staircase off the elevator lobby, you can't. They would have to walk down a hall to another staircase, or wait for the unreliable elevators to take you one floor. As a contrast, I found other, older residence halls much more pleasant environments. Did they have as much light and air, or even space? Probably not. This discussion brings to mind some of the many complaints I have heard in four years about the Markley Residence Hall, which contains extremely long hallways and very small, cell-like rooms. The building also features windows so tall and modern Courtney Cantor had no trouble fitting through. Without unfairly simplifying a very tragic event, it's hard to imagine a similar incident in one of the many older dorms, perhaps with smaller windows and a bit less “light and air.”

That being said I'll note that I have met people who liked living in both buildings, and probably think my complaints superficial, but that's part of my point: for some people it is satisfying, but for others, a residence hall like Newberry or Stockwell seems much more appealing than tall windows and cinder block construction.

Posted by Rob at 2:45 AM

"To our readers:

The Michigan Daily celebrates its 113th birthday today. As we strive to uphold our tradition of journalistic integrity, we will also work to reach out to all members of the University community and encourage their participation and feedback. Thanks to you, our readers, the Daily's dedication to providing a voice for students is as strong today as it was in 1890."

Yes, it does appear the Michigan Daily is using some good keywords ("journalistic integrity," "participation," "feedback") however I'm still waiting to hear how that ethics policy is coming, and I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for them to create an advisory committee or hold public meetings about it. I also find the headline "Watching over 'U'" mildly disturbing, but perhaps I'm overanalyzing it.

Posted by Rob at 1:55 AM

Geoff Larcom has an axe to grind, and the Ann Arbor news is more than happy to provide the venue: yes, that's right, a hard-hitting suite of articles dissecting the University's travel funding.

> "U-M failing to save on travel"
> "U-M's travel spending ranks near top nationwide"
> "U-M faculty's frequent fliers like to book their own travel"

Somehow it's hard to take this prolific reporter seriously after seeing the full page ad on the back of the Ann Arbor News' free weekly supplement delivered to every residence advertising his "Level Larcom" football pool. I'll just say it featured a full-color, 3-foot tall Geoff Larcom doing his best imitation of the player atop the Heisman Trophy.

Posted by Rob at 1:43 AM

Saturday, September 27, 2003

"Zero-tolerance"? Try again:

"The University of Michigan's zero-tolerance policy on hazing was not applied to the Sigma Chi fraternity six months ago despite a student's allegation that he was injured in a hazing incident, a university official said Friday.

The fraternity did not face official sanctions, such as closing or losing its charter, because the incident was not substantiated and because it was reported to, and handled by, the Greek system rather than police, said John Duncan, assistant director of U-M's Office of Greek Life."

> From AANews: "Previous hazing report"

Posted by Rob at 11:20 AM

Friday, September 26, 2003

ITCS has implemented virus filtering for U-M email addresses:


This weekend, ITCS will implement virus filtering on incoming e-mail. This affects all mail coming in to U-M that passes through the ITCS e-mail gateway servers (either because it is addressed to a person or group whose e-mail address ends in "" or because it is redirected through the e-mail gateway by unit e-mail servers).

Incoming messages that are smaller than 1 Kilobyte (KB) (and therefore unlikely to contain an attachment), are sent on for delivery. Incoming messages that are larger than 1 KB are scanned for viruses. The automated scanning software, VirusScan for Unix from Network Associates, checks against a list of virus definitions.

If no infection is found, the mail is sent on for delivery. If, however, a virus is detected, one of two things will happen: if the
message was sent by a virus, it will be deleted or, if the message was not virus-generated, it will be returned to the sender. (See "E-Mail Filtering at U-M" on the web at for more

"I'm thrilled that we are now able to offer virus filtering to the U-M community," said Liz Sweet, director of the User Advocate Office and Virus Busters. "Prevention is a far better strategy than dealing with infected mail and computers. Also, this will save people the annoyance of having to delete all those virus-generated messages we've all been getting so many of lately."

She stressed that people still need to have antivirus software installed on their own computers and to keep it up-to-date. "Viruses spread through other means than e-mail," she explained, "and not all incoming mail goes through the ITCS mail gateway." Mail sent to you using your full machine e-mail address (for example,, does not go through the gateway."

Posted by Rob at 2:52 PM

Democracy 101 ... or,

1) VOTING IS A RIGHT. If you have trouble registering, the burden lies with the city to help you register correctly. For most people it's a simple process, and I believe it the moral duty of all Americans.

2)REGISTERING AND VOTING IS EASY. Registering to vote involves filling out a card with your name and address and signing it. If you are registered elsewhere, there is a space to note that - or even check "I'm not sure!" The Voice Your Vote commission of the Michigan Student Assembly has forms available, and they'll be in the basement of the Michigan Union next Monday from 12-3. The last day to register to vote for the November 5 election is October 4. After you register, you will receive in the mail information about where to vote. If you think you are already registered in Michigan, or want to see where you will go to vote, you can look it up online here. For most students, the nearest voting location is a nearby residence hall. Voting locations on Central Campus include South Quad, East Quad, the Michigan Union, and Markley.

3) IT DOESN'T MATTER IF YOU REGISTER IN TWO PLACES. As long as you notify the city you might be registered elsewhere, they'll take care of the rest - this is not a reason to avoid registering!

4) IGNORE PROPOSITION 215. A few years back, a few antidemocratic Michigan legislators decided to require the voter registration address match your voting address. The law also requires first-time voters to vote in person: if you are voting for the first time, you cannot request an absentee ballot. If you are not from Michigan, this law doesn't apply to you. If you are from Michigan, register here in Ann Arbor and vote in person. The state will send you a sticker to put on your driver's license with the new address. If you don't get the sticker, don't worry: it's their fault. If you let this law prevent you from voting, the Republicans may have already won.

5) WHY VOTE? Because Michigan is a swing state in presidential elections, the Ann Arbor City Council regards the student population as a source of parking ticket revenue, the Ann Arbor Police has been using overly aggressive police tactics, and because you don't really follow what's going on at home anyway. This election you'll have the opportunity to vote for one of 4 current or recent U-M students to represent you in city politics. And by all means, if you have a really good reason to vote at home, request an absentee ballot as soon as possible.

For more information on voting in Michigan, and to see if you are already registered to vote, visit

Posted by Rob at 12:49 PM

Whatever the Ann Arbor Police have been doing, it's getting not a few people upset. Here's another letter to the editor in the Daily about strong-handed policing in student neighborhoods:

"To the Daily:

I am, more or less, a law-abiding citizen, and I have always considered myself to be of the idealistic, police-respecting school of thought. However, in the Ann Arbor Police Department's attempt to crack down on student drinking this year, I think they have done themselves and our community more harm than help. You probably weren't at Lindenfest a couple of weeks ago, because there were only about 100 students scattered around the entire block when three cop cars rolled up, gave a noise violation to every single house on the street and shone a flashlight in my eyes, yelling at me to "get off the porch!" Since I am 21 and I don't live on Linden, I didn't have much to worry about, but I watched as they stormed through the house uninvited and started passing out minors in possession like they were dealing a deck of cards. The cops were there trying to break up a party that wasn't even a party at all. Despite all the times I defended the police to my peers, reminding them that the police were just doing their jobs, I decided then and there that the cops were out to ruin our fun. By roaming the student dorms like hall monitors, handing out noise violations by the dozen, stealing the taps off kegs and breaking up parties that are barely parties at all, the cops are instilling in us, the rising generation, a growing animosity, disrespect and distrust in the police force of our nation.

While risking sounding dramatic, I think this will have grave effects on our democracy. Trust in the government is a fundamental element of a healthy democratic political culture. I think the political culture of our country is currently undergoing a damaging metamorphosis. With political apathy and distrust already running rampant among our generation, I fear the growing disdain for the police will be wood on the damn the man fire. Sex scandals in Washington, electoral fraud in Florida and a deceitful State of the Union address. I wish I could at least have a local police force that wasn't on a complete power trip. In its vision statement, the Ann Arbor Police Department claims to adhere to the principles of trust and partnership with the community. If the police around here want to receive any respect at all from the students and restore some of the lost trust in authority, they need to listen to their own vision statement and figure out how to handle a campus of 30,000 students more constructively.

Caroline Saudek
LSA senior"

Posted by Rob at 12:19 PM

U-M Grad David Enders has returned to the United States from Iraq, where he has been editing a english language news magazine in Baghdad. Among his first stops was an event at a church in his hometown of Grand Rapids. It's been noted to me that although the event was attended by a variety of media, the Michigan Daily wasn't present, and the Daily has not asked Enders to write anything from Baghdad. Enders was a news reporter for the Daily for four years as an undergraduate, and has also worked for the Associated Press and the New York Times.

" ... The Bagdad Bulletin covers politics, sports, economics, and other news. Stories are in English and, Enders said, contrary to popular belief, many Iraqis speak English. The Bulletin is distributed as far as Jordan, 600 miles away with few copies to spare, he said.

Censorship has not been a problem. "We run into the same issues that other publications do -- military people (are) left ignorant on purpose, it seems. It's hard to find someone with information who is willing to share it." ... "

> Grand Rapids Press: "Young editor reports on his life in Baghdad"

Posted by Rob at 12:13 PM

Thursday, September 25, 2003

The Daily editorializes about something I have been writing about quite a bit lately: the need for the city to approve more high-rise buildings in Ann Arbor. I must say, I like what they have to say. Excerpt:

"... Sensibly designed high-rise buildings would not necessarily take away from the general feel of the town. The benefits of having tall buildings would outweigh the costs, making the greenbelt feasible and curbing suburban sprawl in the process. In addition, there are already some relatively tall buildings in downtown and campus areas, such as University Towers and the First National Bank building, that have not ruined the feel of the area. If the buildings are designed in a way that fits in with the architecture of the surrounding area, preserving adequate sidewalks for pedestrians and incorporating shops and restaurants on the ground floor then there should be no aesthetic problem with high-rises. ... "

> See Daily: "Grow up Ann Arbor"

Posted by Rob at 11:15 AM

Another letter was printed in the Daily today about Hanink's column, bringing the tally to 2 in support of her, and 2 against:

"To the Daily:

I think it is interesting that the Daily printed Jim Trout's letter ('Double standards' favoring minorities unfair to majority, 09/23/03), regarding Johanna Hanink's column ('Members-only' diversity, 09/22/03), as his comments about his visit to the University with his son dangerously introduces, if not perpetuates, the idea that the African-American lounges are restricted to blacks only. Though (hopefully) all of the upperclassmen of the University know that Trout's son didn't know what the bloody hell he was talking about when he made that glaring, obviously uneducated mistake in telling that to his dad, I can still imagine some encouragable freshman with a snot bubble coming out of his nose reading the response and jumping to that ridiculous conclusion that there would actually be a lounge in a University reserved exclusively for one ethnicity.

Almost more dangerous was the error that Hanink makes in the column itself. She speaks of the "minorities only" meeting that took place last fall term in the wake of the Daily boycott, but she was very off-base with her factual information. Had Hanink even attempted to attend the meeting herself, she would have learned not only was it not restricted to minorities, but that she would have been in good company with other white representatives of the Daily! She cites an e-mail as advertising it as "minorities only," though I and no one else I have spoken to received an e-mail with that specific wording, and Hanink's journalistic background should allow her to know better than to anonymously cite any e-mails as reference points.

I doubt this letter will make it in the paper, but, not for lack of trying, some very important facts needed to be cleared up in this mess of crass assumptions.

Dustin J. Seibert
LSA senior"

Posted by Rob at 11:11 AM

A Dearborn, MI native may face execution after he was charged for spying while he worked as a translator at camp X-Ray in Cuba, where hundreds of Arab men have been detained for nearly two years. This might be a nice time to remember that the man in charge of food at the camp, James Kluck, is a University Dining Services employee.

> AP: "Michigan airman charged as spy"
> AP: "Military expands investigation of possible security breaches at Guantanamo Bay"

Posted by Rob at 10:38 AM

For a course I am taking on urban renewal I have to define the term "gentrification." It's something that has come up here before but never been directly discussed. What is "gentrification" and does it exist in Ann Arbor? Can an urban community be revitalized without gentrifying, or is it an inevitable process? Can the effects of gentrification be lessened through a certain type of city, say, one with a variety of size and age buildings, or rent control, or requiring buildings have low-income apartments? I think the term is a great deal more complex than it might seem at first consideration, and I'd like to hear what you think.

From Merriam-Webster:
Date: 1964
: the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces earlier usually poorer residents"

Posted by Rob at 9:47 AM

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

" ... The report found that younger people "do not understand the ideals of citizenship, they are disengaged from the political process, they lack the knowledge necessary for effective self-government, and their appreciation and support of American democracy is limited."

In one example, the survey ranked how young respondents viewed a career in politics: Only farming ranked worse than the prospect of a career as a state lawmaker, member of Congress or president.

Most -- 53 percent -- looked favorably on a career in business, while 44 percent chose music or theater. President? That only drew 16 percent. (Respondents could pick more than one career). ... "

Fairly dismal stuff, but I'd only be worried if the apathy was getting worse, I'm not sure youth have ever been as jazzed about politics as rich old people.

> From an AP story republished on Jim Hightower's blog

Posted by Rob at 10:21 PM

Sigma Chi has been kicked out of the IFC and had their charter revoked by their national office after a member of this year's pledge class was hospitalized over a week ago for kidney failure, the result of being denied food and water and forced to exercise for extended periods. (I think it's safe to speculate alcohol may also have been involved.) Sigma Chi is located next to the Michigan Union, and every year around the rush period a mysterious 6" x 6" mud pit appears on the side of their lawn. Of course, everybody is acting shocked that hazing exists, as IFC policy prohibits behavior that endangers the "mental, physical, or academic health of a student," which seems to me a rather loose definition of hazing. This from the Michigan Daily's story:

" ... Greek Life Assistant Director John Duncan said the student and seven other members of his pledge class were "not given much food or water and they had to do an extensive amount of exercise for an extended period of time."

Sometime after the initiation, the student, a Kinesiology junior and Ann Arbor resident, reported the incident to his family, who drove him to a nearby hospital. He was admitted Sept. 14 with muscle breakdown, which led to acute renal failure. ... "

Perhaps most interesting are the comments for Vice President of Student Affairs Royster Harper:

"I think we have to continue to educate students that it is inhumane to haze, and then we have to help students to understand that it is also inhumane to allow students to haze you or treat you that way," Harper said. "I don't know that it is an isolated incident, and I do not know if it is happening in other places. But I do know that it is inhumane."

I have never knowingly tortured, harrassed, abused, or hazed anyone in my life, and I don't think it's unreasonable to expect others to do the same. I think it's a sign of the sad state of affairs when Royster can get away with blaming the victim, and claiming with a straight face it's her job to teach students what is inhumane. It's difficult for me to imagine the sadism required to abuse someone so severely their kidneys fail, and I think Royster should have instead talked about finding who is responsible and making sure they are harshly punished.

Also, this from the Ann Arbor News article, but not noted in the Daily:

"... John Duncan, assistant director of U-M's Office of Greek Life, said the IFC found Sigma Chi guilty of another hazing incident last March, but he wouldn't provide details. He said the fraternity was on probation after the March incident and was to have a written copy of a new membership program reviewed by the IFC and local Sigma Chi alumni. Duncan said he wasn't sure if the house fulfilled that stipulation. ..."

Posted by Rob at 2:53 PM

According to this daily story, about 60 people picketed the Liberty Street Borders yesterday in support of the workers there who have been struggling to form a union after voting to unionize by 92% last December.

... "(Borders Readers United) is a coalition of community groups that have come together to support Borders employees," member and Rackham student Matt Ides said.

Complaints voiced by protesters ranged from insufficient wages to excessive demands placed on employees due to understaffing. They said the contract Borders has offered them would make them worse off than they are now.

Borders management could not be reached by phone last night to comment. In the past, managers have said they encourage communication with employees and do not feel unionization is necessary. ..."

Posted by Rob at 2:31 PM

Clair Morrissey, Jackie Bray, Emily Squires, and Pete Woiwode respond to Johanna Hanink's column in a letter to the Daily today, bringing the tally to 2 in support, 1 against. Excerpt:

" ... First of all, it is not the responsibility of people of color to continually educate white people. White folks need to recognize the effects of the history of racism and oppression in our country; we need to acknowledge how we benefit from institutional and systemic racism. We must take the initiative to increase our own understanding of racial privilege and discrimination in order to understand why demanding an explanation from people of color is usually insulting, regardless of intention. ... "

Posted by Rob at 2:23 PM

This from Michael Moore's latest message to his fans:

" ... The day Clark made his announcement, I was in the former Yugoslavia. Clark was the NATO commander during the Kosovo War. If you've seen my film ("Bowling for Columbine") you know that the bombing of civilians in Kosovo is something that bothers me to this day. That is why I put it in my movie. The 19 countries of NATO have yet to account for this decision to bomb in this way. The New York Times reported on Sunday that Clark wanted to use ground troops instead of relying on the bombing (less civilians would be killed that way). Clinton and Defense Secretary William Cohen overruled him. They didn't want to risk having any American casualties; they preferred the "clean" way of killing from 30,000 feet above. Clark, apparently to undermine them, went on TV and took his case to the American people. Cohen was furious and told him to "get your (bleeping) face" off the TV. He and the Pentagon then orchestrated his firing.

Years later, many analysts agree that the Kosovo War would have ended much sooner -- and fewer civilians would have been killed -- had the White House listened to Clark and let him use the ground troops to stop Milosevic's genocide of the people in Kosovo. ..."

Posted by Rob at 2:20 PM

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

This assault reported in the Ann Arbor news also goes unreported by the Daily:

"U-M student reports knifepoint threat

A University of Michigan student was accosted at knifepoint near a city intersection Monday evening by a man who made incoherent statements, Ann Arbor Police reported.

The 22-year-old student said he was walking on South State Street at Huron Street at 9:30 p.m. when a man approached and held a knife to his throat, reports said. He said the man ordered him to take him to "the underground" or he would kill him, reports said. The victim said he told the suspect he didn't know what he meant, and he was able to run away unharmed, police said.

A campus police officer found a man who matched the suspect's description in the area and arrested him, reports said. The 42-year-old homeless man is being held at the Washtenaw County Jail on a felonious assault charge."

Posted by Rob at 2:42 PM

This event on Thursday seems to be shaping up as one of the biggest this semester:

WHO: Jim Hightower, Joe Wilson, John Passacantando, and more.
WHEN: Thursday, September 25th, 2003 from 5-9pm.
WHERE: The Power Center, 121 Fletcher, on the U. Michigan Ann Arbor campus.
COST: Admission is FREE with on-site voter registration or proof of voter
registration, or if you bring somebody who needs to register to vote. Nobody
will be turned away due to disenfranchisement (citizen or legal record).

Join other MoveOn members, Jim Hightower (link, former
Iraqi Ambassador and whistleblower Joe Wilson, and Greenpeace USA Executive
Director John Passacantando next Thursday, September 25, 2003 at the Power
Center, 121 Fletcher, on the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, campus.

Events sponsors are the Campaign for America's Future (link, the Rolling Thunder Down Home Democracy Tour (link, Rock the Vote (link, the
Apollo Alliance (link, PIRGIM (link,
MoveOn, and the University of Michigan Student Assembly.

>From 5 to 7, join us in the lobby to register, enjoy refreshments, watch the
film "Unprecedented" about the 2000 Florida elections, and learn from
student and local groups ranging from Citizens Against Incinerator Risk, to
The Muslim Student Association, to the UM chapter of the ACLU. Most
presidential candidate campaigns will also be represented. Jim Hightower
will also be available to sign his books, which will be available for
purchase from a Shaman Drum independent bookstore representative.

At 7 pm, take a seat in the 1300 seat auditorium to hear Hightower, Wilson,
Passacantando, and local luminaries, as well as to hear some good music,
rap, and comedy with Jesse Popp. State Senator from Detroit, Buzz Thomas,
along with former State Senator Alma Wheeler Smith, will co-host the
evening. Ben & Jerry's has donated free ice cream for you to eat on your
way home. For more information contact Elisabeth Daley at

Posted by Rob at 10:46 AM

"Don't you realize how privileged you are?"

Well, letters in support of Johanna Hanink's column are running ahead of those opposing her 2-0. That must mean she's right, not that she pissed off a lot of people who probably will never write a letter to the editor from now on. Also in the letters section is a letter chastising U-M students for not understanding the luck and privilege that go along with attending a university like the University of Michigan. I can't help find the two linked: a privileged U-M student who fails totally to understand the interplay of power and race in modern America, and pampered youth so overstimulated they fail totally to understand how lucky they are to be at the University:

"As a projectionist who has spent nearly twelve years providing crucial media support for higher education, I was appalled by your article headed New technology tries to spice up outdated lectures (09/22/03). This preposterous headline was accompanied by a photograph of a dozing student sprawled in an auditorium seat, unable to stay awake over a crossword puzzle. The inference seems to be that highly trained lecturers are somehow at fault for failing to hold the attention of so many bright young things. But boredom occurs in the brain of the beholder. Boredom is the result of a decision, made by certain students, to disengage and resist the efforts being made to help them educate themselves. The fact that this is the most over-stimulated generation in history makes this a prickly problem. It would be best resolved by the students themselves, who need to exercise more than a nominal amount of self-discipline. There is nothing boring about the subjects being lectured upon. This is not a boring world. Wake up.

I never had the money to go to college, nor did I choose to borrow enormous sums of money in order to be able to afford tuition and expenses. But if I were enrolled at this prestigious university, I sure as hell wouldn't wait for somebody to make lectures more like video games before I'd pay attention. Don't you realize how privileged you are? The attitudes expressed in this article are insulting to those of us who have been forced by economic necessity to educate ourselves, using self-motivation to learn what we can outside of the established curriculum. You, my dears, are using up a lot of resources. You've got it made, and your desire for further shortcuts is pathetic. As most professors will tell you, trying to pull your education off of the Internet is an unstable and often erroneous path. If you are lucky enough to have a living, breathing teacher who wants to talk to you in person about a topic they have spent years researching, then show them the courtesy due anyone who works hard to help you grow up intelligently. Authentic interaction involves something more than sluggish action - or gross inaction - on the part of the students. Technology is provided to help you learn, not to keep you from falling asleep. Stop looking for interactive joysticks. Sit up and take good notes. The lectures aren't outdated. What's outmoded is your lack of self-discipline; it is a very costly embarrassment, and frankly the world no longer has time for it.

Theodore Grenier
LSA Staff"

Posted by Rob at 10:19 AM

A poll released yesterday found that 52% of 600 Michigan residents would ban affirmative action, 9% were undecided, and 39% in favor. The poll had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

> DetNews: "Diversity loses in two polls"

Posted by Rob at 10:03 AM

Monday, September 22, 2003

Think the Daily would report about a student attacked near campus over the weekend? Think again, the Ann Arbor news runs this in their police beat today. Although I'll note, in my experience as a crime reporter, the Ann Arbor police were notoriously difficult to get information from. The officer assigned to speaking to the media, Sgt. Michael Logghe, rarely returned my calls for an entire semester: I only spoke to the man if I called before 2 PM on a weekday and caught him in his office.

"U-M student reports early morning attack

A University of Michigan student was attacked while walking home near Central Campus early Sunday, city police reports said.

The female student, 20, was walking alone on Oakland Avenue near Tappan about 4 a.m. when she heard someone walking behind her, she told Ann Arbor police.

The woman hid in bushes on the east side of the street and called a friend on a cell phone, asking that person to meet her halfway home, when a man grabbed her shoulders from behind and pushed her to the ground, reports said. The assailant then straddled the woman and tried to muffle her screams by covering her mouth when another man pushed the attacker off. The assailant fled on foot.

The woman did not report any injuries.

She identified the suspect as a white male about 5 feet, 11 inches tall, with messy brown hair. He wore a dark T-shirt and black denim jeans.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Ann Arbor Police tip line at (734) 996-3199."

What I find interesting from this incident is the "another man" who suddenly appears to thwart what might have been a very bad situation. Although his identity is anonymous, here is a validation of a principal of urbanism theorized by Jane Jacobs: urban safety is ensured by a vibrant, busy sidewalk life where even at 4 AM there are people present to intervene in scary situations like the one described above. (The first full chapter of her classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities is "The uses of sidewalks: safety") Hence, the question of increasing density of development takes on a very practical significance: busy sidewalks prevent crime.

Posted by Rob at 8:32 PM

When Rights Liberalism Backfires

Or, the Daily goes where many wealthy white "liberals" have gone before ... and violating their informal rule of "No Daily in the Daily" in the process. I guess she never got the memo about how many different ways there are for majority communities to support and respect minority communities. This issue, like so many related to race, is certainly a sticky situation, but naively asserting we should all buy into some notion of colorblind conservatism isn't just offensive, it's banal.

It's also a shame only some people can break Daily rules, since I thought David Enders' censored column about the boycott was much better. ("I agreed with a number of the assessments [the boycotters] had made: there were problems with the paper's content and coverage that required redress.") I guess nobody there is too concerned with an equal application of their policies.

"'Members-only' diversity
By Johanna Hanink: Parlance of our Times
September 22, 2003

In the early weeks of last year's boycott against The Michigan Daily, the organizers of the boycott logically held many meetings with interested members of the University community to discuss the issues surrounding the boycott. However, one of these meetings, scheduled to take place in a University residence hall, was designated as a "minorities only" meeting; in other words, whites were not welcome.

I'm not sure how the meeting worked - I have a friend who looks "white" enough, but her grandmother is Lebanese. Would she have been allowed into the meeting? I know another person - again, unequivocally "white"-looking, but he had enough American Indian in his blood to claim minority status on graduate school applications - although only at some schools, not all. Would he have been turned away at the door? Would the organizers have demanded a certificate of tribal affiliation?

When I first read the e-mail announcing the meeting, it evinced a visceral reaction in me - how, on University property, could a meeting take place at which the organizers could say, in no subtle words, "no whites allowed?" Is this what multiculturalism means at this University? Even though I was in a position of leadership at the Daily during the boycott - and thus was supposed to keep my mouth shut - I was outraged enough to write to the hall director (twice) of the residence hall which allowed (in that it did not prohibit) that meeting to proceed. I received no response.
So what were the leaders of these communities so afraid of? Would white people necessarily have caused problems, and would the students of color all necessarily have agreed with - and kept secret from the Daily staff - everything that went on? (They certainly did not.) Was this compatible with University philosophy and policy, and if not, why was it OK?

The rest

Posted by Rob at 2:36 AM

Recently, the Michigan Daily has quietly posted their bylaws on their website, although they've disabled the comment feature on that page. Yes, that means they're partly done with suggestion number four from the "Agenda for Change" part of my Inside the Daily series. To their credit, I've heard there are some discussions ongoing about creating a comprehensive ethics policy, (perhaps like this one) but the fact we don't know what's going on means they have failed to understand another one of my suggestions: that the newspaper must commit itself to transparency, and involve the staff and the public in crafting important policies. Here's a quick refresher of the top ten suggestitons:

1. Run corrections for every error discovered in a consistent, prominent space in the newspaper

2. Make it a policy to print as many letters to the editor as realistically possible

3. Respect every member of the newspaper, and involve them in decisions that effect the newspaper as a whole

4. Revise the Michigan Daily Bylaws, including a clear, comprehensive ethics policy, and post it on the Daily's website

5. Make available email addresses to the entire news staff, by beat

6. Recruit underrepresented minorities on campus for all sections of the newspaper

7. Discuss news at weekly news staff meetings, make the daily news meetings required for reporters working on stories for the next day, and encourage collaboration

8. Hold public forums to discuss the newspaper's policies about using race, and other policies that generate controversy

9. Have a senior editor, or an officially selected person function as a reader ombudsperson to write a regular column about criticisms of the newspaper and conduct internal investigations of alleged ethics violations

10. Make internal newspaper operations more transparent - make M-Desk meetings public, encourage staffers to attend meetings of the Board for Student Publications.

Posted by Rob at 1:10 AM

Sunday, September 21, 2003

This Thursday, the President's Task Force on Purchasing Ethics and Policies will hear public comments as part of their process of formulating a Code of Conduct for university vendors, which if properly drafted could mean the University telling anti-union or otherwise unethical contractors to shape up or risk losing their contract with the University. It also seems the president's office is taking something of a lead in the issue, according to a memo Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality has forwarded to their members:


TO: Participants, Public Forum, Thursday, September 25, 2003, at 4:15 p.m. Hussey Room, Michigan League

FROM: President’s Task Force on Purchasing Ethics and Policies, University of Michigan

RE: Proposed Code of Conduct for University Vendors

As indicated in the enclosed Charge from University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, the Task Force on Purchasing Ethics and Policies has been created to recommend how sound, ethical, and socially responsible practices, to which Michigan has a longstanding commitment, may be codified for the University’s vendors.

We are most appreciative of the help that can be provided us in this project by vendors of goods and services, members of the University community, and all other interested parties. To assist you in presenting your views, we have set forth below some of the topics and questions we may need to address in drafting our recommendations.

We would prefer that presentations be made in person at the public forum scheduled for Thursday, September 25, 2003 at 4:15-6:00 p.m. in the Hussey Room of the Michigan League. We would also be happy, however, to accept written submissions. Please contact Patrick Naswell by e-mail at or by phone at (734) 615-6744 if you plan to participate in the forum and have not yet notified him. Written statements should be sent to Mr. Naswell at the Office of the President, University
of Michigan, 2074 Fleming Administration Building, Ann Arbor MI 48109-1340.

Posted by Rob at 8:24 PM

The Ann Arbor News details a growing debate in Ann Arbor about whether the city should approve the construction of taller buildings in the city in their story today "How tall is too tall for Ann Arbor?". I think that taller buildings, appropriately placed at certain places in the city, could increase the vitality of the downtown area. It would also have the effect of allowing more people to live in the downtown area, and perhaps help reduce rent.

The mayor has created a task force to examine the issue, although it doesn't include a representative of either current downtown residents or the student population, perhaps most effected by downtown development: "Hieftje said the task force, which will include members of the City Council, Downtown Development Authority and local developers, will look for ways to build housing in the $230,000 to $380,000 range."

The article also discusses the "Corner House Lofts" now under construction at the corner of Washington and State. Although the major thinks the building too tall, I think while it may take some time for lifetime Ann Arborites to get used to, it's an appropriately dense use of a piece of prime real estate. The building's height is offset by its location at the corner, and the open space across the intersection on the grounds of the Methodist church. I also sometimes wonder why so much hand-wringing is involved when a developer wants to build a 8 or 10 story building, but nobody blinks an eye when giant new parking garages are proposed. After all, the parking garage behind new building by the MLB is itself seven stories tall, but nobody is complaining that the area seems too much like a "canyon." Five to ten story parking structures have popped up all over Ann Arbor without nary a peep from the sprawl-builders or the bourgeois Ann Arbor denizens who control city politics, few of whom actually live "downtown," while reasonably sized buildings, like a 10-story plan for the Olga's site, are rejected by the city council. All the more reason to vote for some of the alternative candidates running for city council, like my friend Scott in the 4th Ward who has said he would support appropriately placed tall buildings downtown.

The 'Corner House Lofts' will also include at least a few units available for low income residents, as I found this in a city report to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development:
"The City is working with private developers of market-rate housing for moderate and high-income households to include some units for low-income households to integrate a mixture of incomes into one development. The City made an agreement in 2001 with a private developer to provide three affordable rental units to households at <80% AMI or less in a development called Corner House Lofts. The Corner House Lofts is ideally located in the heart of downtown with easy access to public transportation, hospitals and many social services. Construction began in the spring of 2003 and occupancy is expected in the spring of 2004."

Posted by Rob at 7:44 PM

Saturday, September 20, 2003

The Michigan blog scene continues to expand, but not in so much in Ann Arbor. From Ypsilanti, there's the political if eye-straining "The Bunker," and a similar site "Seat of the Revolution." I've also stumbled across something called "Hyaline Skies," offering a sensitive portrait of freshman year, for those who thought that impossible.

Posted by Rob at 12:27 PM

A group of professors, including Prof. Matt Lassiter, who teaches the popular History 364: History of American Suburbia, are planning a lecture series featuring some very well known professors and authors:

"We are delighted to announce a new, year-long, interdisciplinary colloquium series -- the Michigan Colloquium on Race and Twentieth-Century American Political Development The series brings some the country's most eminent and thoughtful scholars of race and politics to the University of Michigan for a public lecture and a workshop with graduate students in history, political science, sociology, and American cultures.

The fall schedule of public lectures is now set, and we hope you agree that it gets the series off to a fine start. Locations will be announced shortly, but please save the dates and times for the following speakers:

MARGARET WEIR (UC Berkeley), Thursday, October 2, 4-6pm: "States, Race, and the Decline of New Deal Liberalism."

THOMAS J. SUGRUE (University of Pennsylvania), Thursday, October 16, 4-6pm: "Jim Crow's Last Stand: The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Suburban North."

LIZABETH COHEN (Harvard University), Friday, November 7, 12-2pm: "The Racial Politics of Mass Consumption in the Consumers' Republic."

MICHAEL KATZ (University of Pennsylvania), Thursday, December 11, 4-6pm: "The New African American Inequality."

The schedule for the winter semester is still evolving, but confirmed speakers include Orlando Patterson (Harvard), Amy Bridges (UCSD), and Daniel Kryder (Brandeis).

As organizers of the colloquium series, we enthusiastically invite you to join us for what promises to be a tremendously stimulating semester.

Sincerely yours,

Anthony S. Chen, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Public Policy
Matthew Lassiter, Assistant Professor of History
Robert Mickey, Assistant Professor of Political Science"

Posted by Rob at 12:07 PM

The Detroit News previews today the exhibit opening at the U-M art museum tomorrow - "The Romanovs Collect: European Art from the Hermitage" - in an article "U-M unveils marvels of St. Petersburg." From the article:

"... Ann Arbor city officials have responded to the festivities by declaring October as St. Petersburg month. They plan to alert the public by hanging across-the-street banners on Main and State streets. All of which makes you wonder what prompted such an over-the-top celebration in middle America for a Russian city half a world away.

"U-M has strong ties with St. Petersburg because of our Russian studies program," says Marysia Ostafin of the university's Center for Russian and East European Studies, which initiated the birthday party.

"Our faculty members work closely with their institutions. And Russian scholars are coming here to teach courses for our St. Petersburg theme semester. Why? Because we want to hook undergraduate students into a love for Russia." ...

Posted by Rob at 11:47 AM

The YMCA has accepted the AATA's offer of $3.5 million for their current structure on William, according to this story in the Ann Arbor News:

" Y to sell building for $3.5 million

The Ann Arbor YMCA Thursday accepted an offer from the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to buy the Y's building at William Street and Fifth Avenue for $3.5 million.

The AATA wants to level the Y building and the Blake Transit Center next door to build a larger new bus terminal. The authority wants to sell the rights to build above the new terminal to a developer, probably for low-cost and some moderately priced housing.

The Y is in the process of building a new center on Washington Street just west of downtown and hopes to move in by the beginning of 2005.

The offer now goes to the city of Ann Arbor, which has 20 days to exercise its first right of refusal on the property, which means the city would have to match the offer to buy the building.

That right is part of a management agreement between the Y and the city, under which the Y agreed to run a low-cost, 100-room residence, until 2010. If the Y closes the residence, it will have to pay about $129,000 a year for every year remaining in the agreement, says Cathi Duchon, the Y's executive director.

As part of the purchase agreement with AATA, the Y and the authority will ask the city to dissolve the low-cost housing requirement, she says."

I think that a good story for either the Ann Arbor News or the Daily would be to go and interview some of the people who currrently live in the low-income units, and see what they think about the purchase of their home.

Posted by Rob at 11:33 AM

Thursday, September 18, 2003

e-True Blue wants you to know:
"Internet search site, cofounded by U-M alumnus Larry Page, '95, recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. In its five years, the site has come to represent 75 percent of all Internet searches, according to Search Engine Watch newsletter. The site responds to 200 million search requests every day and indexes 3.1 billion Web pages."

Posted by Rob at 4:28 PM

I've heard, although been unable to confirm anywhere else that a curator from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg Russia who was coming to Ann Arbor was turned away at the Detroit Metro Airport by the Department of "Homeland" Security because he didn't have the "correct" visa. He was to give a lecture in connection with the Celebrating St. Petersburg theme semester, and the U-M Art Museum's nationally significant show "The Romanovs Collect: European Art from the Hermitage."

If true, the situation reminds me when world famous actor-writer-director and British citizen Steven Berkoff was prevented from performing in the Ann Arbor Summer Festival in 2002. He was planning on performing his one-man play "Shakespeare's Villains" in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, but officials at Detroit Metro Airport denied him entrance ostensibly because he had overstayed a visa by one day ... five years before, according to details from the Ann Arbor News quoted on this website.

This from the London paper the Guardian:
"Berkoff, who has appeared in a number of American movies, including Octopussy and Beverly Hills Cop, was due to perform his one-man play Shakespeare's Villains at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and at Grand Rapids, but was stopped by immigration officials at Detroit Metropolitan airport and sent home.

The officials apparently claimed he had violated the terms of a work visa issued in 1997. He told the Grand Rapids Press, "It was a nightmare".

Evy Warshawski, director of the Ann Arbor festival, said Berkoff "kept telling them 'I'm not a terrorist, I'm an actor!'"

To underscore the importance of the art show, here is an excerpt from a U Record story about the exhibit of 142 paintings:

"This is one the most ambitious cultural undertakings the University has ever mounted," says UMMA Director James Steward. "This festival really is, both qualitatively and quantitatively, unique among the many anniversary celebrations being staged in the United States. It speaks to the University's commitment to being a leader in scholarship and in the highest levels of quality."

Steward says the collaboration with the Hermitage is the first large-scale partnership between "one of the top museums in the world" and a North American university. The Hermitage has lent works to institutions around the world, but never on this scale to a university museum, he says."

Posted by Rob at 4:18 PM

Lots of action in the news today about local planning issues. The AATA has approved buying the YMCA for $3.5 million, significantly less than the Y was hoping for, and the article doesn't note the potential terms - like whether or not the bus station will include mixed-use development or continue to contain low income housing, as the site has now. The City Council must now vote to approve the deal.

Also, as I predicted University is planning to build yet another parking garage on the location of the Planada Building, set to be destroyed within the month. Hopefully, the structure includes rentable retail space on the ground floor, but I doubt their ability to live up to my new urbanist expectations.

Student Ghetto Break-ins:
"1600 block of South University Avenue, 3 p.m. Tuesday. Entry through bedroom window; laptop computer and power cord taken. Total value: $1,450.

Finally, articles of note:
> Freep: "Former President Ford joins building dedication"
> Det. News: "U-M seeks to recover costs tied to Webber"

Posted by Rob at 4:02 PM

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I've updated the links to include Black At Michigan, the September archives, M-Print, and ITCS's web IFS interface. Others I should add? Let me know: rob @

Posted by Rob at 11:32 PM

At least the mayor has the right idea about mixed use in the "downtown" area:

"Task force to focus on downtown living

Mayor John Hieftje announced Monday that a City Council/Downtown Development Authority task force will try to find ways to increase residential living in downtown.

Hieftje said he'd like to see if there are places where multi-story buildings could be built downtown to increase residential density."

> From the Ann Arbor News

Posted by Rob at 10:21 PM

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

The Ann Arbor News today covered the opening of the $3.2 million pedestrian bridge connecting the Life Sciences Institute complex and the medical campus, or more specifically, the sidewalk next to Couzens Hall. I'm glad what has been a 90-year old problem of pedestrians crossing Huron street has finally been addressed, and I think it can be considered part of the Bollinger legacy:

"U-M staff members also said the bridge is part of former president Lee Bollinger's goal to integrate U-M's campuses visually and academically.

Bollinger spoke of that goal four years ago in announcing plans for the Life Sciences Institute, which officially opens its doors for its administrative staff today. At the end of the month, U-M will begin moving in one to two labs a week. Karl Bates, communications director for the institute, said U-M scientists set to work in the facility would be "in place and doing science" by the end of this year."

Walking through the LSI complex and across the bridge last night, I was struck by how totally the development has obliterated the relationship between the buildings and the natural characteristics of the site. Built on top of a natural low area known as the "cat-hole" that has long formed one border on Central Campus, what will eventually be the pedestrian level is actually placed on top of a 1 million gallon reservoir and five-story 1,000 car parking garage. I hope the design includes at least a patch of grass and a few trees for the open plaza under construction to temper the buildings and power plant that surround the space. Shoe-horned into one of the last crannies of open space near central campus, the development is a remarkable use of space.

Last year, I heard from a University employee who was involved with the project that the University gave an exclusive contract for food service in the Commons Building to Zingerman's, since they "didn't really want students to use it," and thought the high prices would keep students away. While I was glad they chose a locally-owned outfit (unlike most of the other food courts in University buildings), I was disturbed that administrators might consciously strive to exclude students. I would hope the University selected a variety of vendors for the food court, taking into consideration not only a variety of cost and type of cuisine, but also the business practices of the applicant. Contrasted to what I heard, The Ann Arbor News gives a different picture: "a food court and dining area just off the walkway that will be open to the public, enabling students to grab a cup of coffee on the way to class." I hope they are indeed correct, and the building has been designed for all its occupants, not only to cater to the conference attendees the building was built to host.

Posted by Rob at 6:12 PM

The City Council has voted unanimously to extent the life of the Downtown Development Authority, although harboring some skepticism:

"Then, the amount of money the DDA sets aside for affordable housing projects become an issue.

The DDA sets aside 6 percent of its TIF money for housing. The council wanted a higher percentage and asked for 15 percent, or about $450,000 a year.

The breakthrough, Greff said, came Sunday night at a caucus meeting. The council agreed on contractual language that allowed the DDA wiggle room to say it "may" spend up to 15 percent or more on housing-related purposes.

The city would trust the DDA to live up to its intentions.

Council Members Kim Groome, D-1st Ward, and Heidi Herrell, D-3rd Ward, said they had reservations about that, but still voted to approve the renewal. [...]

While some people were concerned about the amount of money the DDA puts aside for affordable housing, others said allowing the DDA to capture property taxes is a form of corporate welfare that takes money from taxpayers to help businesses."

> From AANews: "Ann Arbor Council OKs deal with DDA"

Posted by Rob at 5:50 PM

I discovered a campaign flyer produced by U-M student and first ward city council candidate Rick Lax at Cafe Ambrosia today. While almost certainly not progressive enough for my tastes, his platform presents a refreshing student-oriented point of view, if perhaps tempered by the scent of self-serving ambitions reminiscent Paul Scott and the University Party in the Michigan Student Assembly elections. Here's his platform:

1) In response to the city mailing bills for unpaid parking tickets en mass last spring: "Make sure people don't have to prove they paid a parking ticket to avoid paying it a second time"

2) In response to the newly created $125 snow-emergency parking fine, reduced to $35 last year: "Pass a bill that says unless a car actually needs to be towed, actually is towed, there will be no fine for towing"

3) "Oppose the Washtenaw Hill Historic Area expansion, a plan that may have good intentions ... but is ultimately unfair to the residents of the area"

4) Perhaps most surprisingly, he says he would have opposed State Street Area improvement project, saying the area "was already a beautiful place to begin with," saying the $5.5 million spent could have been spent on bike paths, city parks, or "electric cars." He blames the rising rent in the area on the street improvements, lamenting the closing of Decker Drugs as a victim of the rent increases. In summary, he says: "If elected, I will make sure the City doesn't spend another dime renovating areas that don't need renovation. I will make sure money is used where it is needed, so that the local businesses that make our downtown so unique can continue to serve the community."

While I am glad to see any candidate for city council making the city's opportunistic approach to parking tickets, I think there are other, more important issues Lax overlooks, at least in this literature. Where is his opinions on lowering rent for students, the Patriot Act resolution, the long-discussed new dorm, and the mayor's "greenbelt" proposal?

Finally, while I'm glad he's worried about the mallification of the State Street Area, I think it is simplistic to blame the high rents on the street improvements. While they may have the effect of boosting the property values in the area, I think the new, wider sidewalks, brighter streetlights, and better crosswalks were needed and make the area more pleasant. There are other approaches to maintaining a diverse mix of businesses, including drug stores, and helping out small businesses, including tax incentives, rent restrictions, and encouraging planned development. However, Lax doesn't address something fundamentally wrong with the project: it was executed by the semi-public Downtown Development Agency, which runs the city's parking structures. In addition to resisting the unionization of their parking attendants last year, the DDA is not subject to the same levels of control and scrutiny as the regular city government, and in my mind should be abolished. Although I disagree with his opinion of the renovation project, he is right: the decision should properly lie with the transparent and democratic City Council and Planning Commission, not with a semi-private organization.

Posted by Rob at 5:45 PM

Here's what Wesley Clark stands for, according to Michael Moore:

"1. You oppose the Patriot Act and would fight the expansion of its powers.

2. You are firmly pro-choice.

3. You filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of the University of Michigan's affirmative action case.

4. You would get rid of the Bush tax "cut" and make the rich pay their fair share.

5. You respect the views of our allies and want to work with them and with the rest of the international community.

6. And you oppose war. You have said that war should always be the "last resort" and that it is military men such as yourself who are the most for peace because it is YOU and your soldiers who have to do the dying. You find something unsettling about a commander-in-chief who dons a flight suit and pretends to be Top Gun, a stunt that dishonored those who have died in that flight suit in the service of their country.

If he says that he'd like to cut the Pentagon budget in half, and make Carol Mosley-Braun his vice president, I may have to rethink my firm position as a cynical progressive. After all, Dean might make a good cabinent member ...

Posted by Rob at 5:22 PM

Continuing the long tradition of empires conflating military and political authority, the media is reporting (CNN) that Wesley Clark plans on entering the Democratic primary race for president. This from CNN:

"Clark has been an increasingly outspoken critic of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. In August, he told CNN that the administration led the country to war under "false pretenses," and the United States is no safer as a result."

Posted by Rob at 12:58 PM

Monday, September 15, 2003

Yes, as you've probably seen by now, the old Famiglia Pizza location at the corner of William and State is currently being converted into a Jimmy John's. When it opens, it will be the fourth in operation within a few blocks of central campus.

Famous Famiglia's website proudly boasts that their first Michigan restaurant opened at the prime State Street location in Ann Arbor on July 19, 2001, but fails to mention it abruptly closed less than two years later. I suspect that even a high-volume pizza chain couldn't support the outragous rents demanded by the corporate, out-of-state landlords that own most of the buildings along that part of State Street. If the Ann Arbor market is not already saturated with Jimmy John's subs, perhaps they will do better. At any rate, I thought NYPD made better pizza.

Posted by Rob at 12:36 AM

The Michigan Journalism Fellows (now Knight-Wallace fellows) are hosting an event tomorrow at Kerrytown from 9am until 1pm titled "The Food Page: The Press and Public Policy" to discuss a variety of health, food, and nutrition related issues. The lengthy list of speakers includes Lynne Rosetto Kasper, host of Minnesota Public Radio's "The Splendid Table," Elizabeth Majestic, assistant secretary for health in the CDC, the Dean of the U-M school of Social Work, and Marion Nestle, a NYU professor and author of the book Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health among others.

> See U-M press release

Posted by Rob at 12:20 AM

Sunday, September 14, 2003

"On Friday and Saturday nights, the area around campus is saturated with parties, some in fraternities, many in private apartment houses. Students eagerly seek out the parties, which are almost always fueled by alcohol, as a way to form new social relationships. But the campus tradition also leaves in its wake property trashed with party paraphernalia, police citations for alcohol-related offenses, occasional street fights and questions about underage drinking by U-M students.
A tour of the campus and its neighboring residential areas last Saturday night, Sept. 6, the night after the home football game against Houston, found large party crowds on street corners, apartment porches and fraternity front yards. Campus and police officials say it is difficult to judge how the partying compares to recent years, but Ann Arbor police reported that the first two weekends of the fall term produced more alcohol-related citations than they've written in several years."

>From one of a trilogy of stories in the Ann Arbor News: "Alcohol fuels U-M party scene", see also "Police Party patrol spends night ticketing illegal drinkers", and "U-M urges thinking before drinking"

From the party patrol article:

"A stern warning isn't even considered as uniformed officers weed out underage drinkers, public drinking and disorderly conduct.

"Hammer them as many times as you can," Sgt. James Baird told the officers as they prepared to begin their enforcement effort at 10 p.m. Behind him in the briefing room, the phrase "Hammer Time" was written on a dry erase board."

Posted by Rob at 1:49 PM

Saturday, September 13, 2003

This from the U-M athletic department's PR machine

"ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The fifth-ranked University of Michigan football team's game against No. 15-ranked Notre Dame this Saturday (Sept. 13, 3:30 p.m. EDT) will mark the seventh time that ESPN's College Football GameDay crew will be present at Michigan Stadium. Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and special correspondent Rocket Ismail will host the pregame show from the seventh tee of the Ann Arbor Golf and Outing Course across from the south end zone of the "Big House."

The ESPN GameDay crew on its last visit to U-M, for the 2002 season opener.

ESPN GameDay, broadcasting live from 10:30 a.m. until noon EDT, will be located off Main Street across from Pioneer High School inside the gates of the Ann Arbor Golf & Outing course. The show will also be featured at halftime of the Purdue-Wake Forest game and on the 7 p.m. ESPN Scoreboard Show. GameDay will wrap up its coverage from Ann Arbor with appearances at halftime of the Alabama-Kentucky game and on SportsCenter at 11 p.m. The ADT National Championship Trophy will be featured on the set and in a display next to the set in Ann Arbor.

ESPN college football writer Ivan Maisel will be making live reports from inside the stadium during the 10:30 a.m. to noon show, while ESPN GameDay Radio with Mel Kiper and Dave Revsine will be broadcasting from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. EDT in the Ann Arbor Pioneer High School parking lot.

With GameDay's broadcast of one of college football's most storied rivalries, Michigan will tie the University of Florida for the most on-campus visits by the show in its 10th year of existence. The appearance at the Notre Dame game also puts the Wolverines (16 appearances) behind the Gators (19) and Florida State (17) for the most appearances in the onsite ESPN GameDay game."

Posted by Rob at 11:13 AM

How can I forget to blog about those chalkings on the Diag?! Frankly, my dear, I don't give the damn: it took me ten minutes of diligent searching to find some of the offending chalking to begin with, let alone work up a righteous anger about them.

Posted by Rob at 10:59 AM

A developer who wants to build 5,000 homes of sprawl north of Ann Arbor has filed a frivilous, "slap" lawsuit to try to intimidate the local planning board into approving his massive subdivision.
> "Developer files damage suit"

And the University is forcing their employees to "share" the cost of health insurance, something I thought was a "benefit."

> "U-M staff will share health cost in 2004"

Posted by Rob at 10:43 AM

The trial of former graduate student Ning Ma has begun, and the University is busy demonizing someone who stole some uniquenames and passwords using elementary technology and techniques in what sounds to me like a pathetic cry for help. Ma remains in prison on $1 bail even though he didn't inflict any damage more serious than sending a few fraudulent emails, and violent felons have recently been released on bail. To me, the whole affair has a tragicomic air about it, and I strongly suspect if the son or daughter of wealthy, well-connected Detroiters had done the same crimes they would instead be secretly disciplined under the much more lenient part "O" of the Code of Student Conduct about "violating University computer policies," revealing once again the University's fast-and-loose approach to any sense of a consistant enforcement of their own policies.

"William Rhee, a computer system's consultant in the U-M's Information Technology Division, testified Friday that the focus of the investigation turned to Ma after Ma's Internet Protocol address records showed simultaneous access to several e-mails from his University Towers apartment. An IP address identifies a sender or a recipient of information that is sent in packets across the Internet.

> AANews: "Hacker suspect to be tried"

Posted by Rob at 10:29 AM

The Ann Arbor News runs an update story about the long-expected purchase of the current YMCA building after that organization moves into their new building which will be located west of Main Street at the former location of the Technology Center.

Athough the two organizations are in negotiations, the article hints at what might be a sticking point: affordable housing. Cathi Ducho, director of the YMCA, said that they plan on insisting that the new owner of the property include affordable housing in their plans to replace the 100-unit residence there now. However, AATA director Greg Cook said his offer would be a single-use, one-story complex that would not include public housing, although they would consider selling ""air rights" above the ground level to a developer, probably for low-cost housing and some moderate-priced housing. Cook said he doubts any commercial development would go on the site."

While the free market in real estate does a great job creating housing for the wealthy, any student of U.S. (especially Detroit) history knows that trying to pressure a developer into building mixed-income and low-income housing can be notoriously difficult, especially when they can opt for more profitable "moderate-priced housing," as Greg Cook suggests. Also, while his plan of a low-density, one-story complex may make sense for an organization invested in the economic segregation of Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti, it would be an absurd waste of space in Downtown Ann Arbor. His seemingly irrational exclusion of commercial space reveals the dogmatic nature of suburban, one-use thinking: what reason could he have for excluding retail space? Street-level retail space would encourage foot traffic to the area, making the new bus station safer, and perhaps even boosting bus ridership.

On the other hand, if people could afford to live near they worked, and could shop for necessities without going to the mall or Meijer, the AATA might suffer. Hopefully the Ann Arbor City council, which must approve the deal, will free Ann Arbor from Mr. Cook's vision: that residents of Ann Arbor either own a car, or are forced to ride his busses. A well-planned, mixed-use development that includes low-income housing, a bus terminal, and retail space would not only generate profit for the AATA, but also make downtown more lively and vital. But I'm not holding my breath to see anything like that come from the AATA, an organization whose own headquarters lies in the very characterless ugly sprawl south of Ann Arbor they profit from.

> AANEWS: "AATA offer to buy Y building nearly set"

Posted by Rob at 10:04 AM

Leave it to the British to handle their radical politics thoroughly: according to this South London newspaper, the government antagonized by Luke Massie has compiled a 145 page "dossier" of RWL/BAM-N:

"It alleges they are involved with US-based organisations the Revolutionary Workers' League and the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary (BAMN).
It claims the groups have targeted several American institutions, including universities and a teacher union, using racist labels to freeze debate or to isolate and undermine individuals. ..."

> See IC Southlondon: "Dossier on sacked worker is released"

Posted by Rob at 9:50 AM

My friend Dumi, a graduate student in sociology and public policy, has launched a new blog,, which he hopes will generate online debate about issues effecting all students on campus: "My greatest sense of accomplishment will likely come from getting Black folks to view and contribute to this page, but comments by all are welcome. This encourages healthy dialogue and debate. Diversity ain't just a legal concept to me, it's the thing that make us intellectually sharp."

Posted by Rob at 9:50 AM

Thursday, September 11, 2003

"For years and years it has been the policy of the Ann Arbor City Council to draw wards - the council districts - in such a way that marginalizes the student vote. Instead of creating one or two wards that are near-majority student, the council has dispersed the student vote across several wards, making it almost impossible for students to get elected to the council, though not for a lack of effort. In this city of which students comprise approximately one third of the population, not one sits on the council."

> Writes the Daily's Louie Meizlish in a column today. The sentiments should sound familiar to visitors to this website, familiar with my data on this issue.

Posted by Rob at 3:08 PM

September 11 Anniversary Events:

8:00 PM - MSA Organized Vigil on Diag

8:00 PM - Ann Arbor Committee for Peace 'Circle of Peace' Vigil - Downtown post office at 5th and Liberty

Posted by Rob at 2:56 PM

"Woman arrested for making bomb threat

University of Michigan Police arrested a woman Wednesday afternoon shortly after she sent an e-mail containing a bomb threat to officials at the University of Michigan, officials said.

The woman, whose name, age and affiliation with the university are being withheld by police pending arraignment later today, will be charged with making a bomb threat, a felony, said Lt. Jesse Lewit.

Lewit said staff at the University Health Services building on Fletcher Street near Central Campus received the e-mail about 3 p.m. and evacuated the building.

Police cordoned off the building entrances but allowed the surrounding streets to remain open while officers swept the building for suspicious objects for about an hour, Lewit said. None were found and a bomb-sniffing dog indicated no explosives were in the building."

> From AANews Crime Notes

Posted by Rob at 2:54 PM

In commemoration of the second anniversary of September 11, 2001, I'll remind my visitors of the permanent 9.11.01 photo gallery on this website.

Posted by Rob at 10:43 AM

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

It appears the University did not win their bid for the creation of an Army Biotechnology Center on this campus, although they did get a more mundane-sounding but similar "Midwestern Regional Center of Excellence (RCE) for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research." The University has been quiet about it, and neither the Daily nor the Ann Arbor News have written much about it. I wrote about the U's failed bid for the Army center after I obtained a copy of their application to the U.S. Army.

"U-M chosen for bioterror project

The University of Michigan is one of 14 institutions selected by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to research ways to protect people from bioterrorism.

U-M will participate in the Midwestern Regional Center of Excellence (RCE) for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research, one of eight regional centers to be established around the country with a $350 million, five-year grant.

These regional centers will conduct research related to the detection, prevention and treatment of potentially lethal illnesses caused by biological agents, including emerging infectious diseases such as SARS and West Nile virus, as well as pathogens that could be used for bioterrorism.

U-M scientists will work on developing vaccines and countermeasures against biological pathogens, according to Dr. James J. Baker Jr., U-M's Ruth Dow Doan Professor of Nanotechnology and director of the U-M Center for Biologic Nanotechnology.

In addition, U-M will manage communications among all scientists affiliated with the Midwestern Center, using software developed at U-M, according to Stephanie Teasley, a senior associate research scientist in the U-M School of Information."

> From the Ann Arbor News

Posted by Rob at 11:30 AM

AAPD Crack Down on U-M Students

"Party patrol hands out 142 tickets

Ann Arbor Police issued more than 140 citations during the second weekend of a crackdown on drinking around the University of Michigan campus, a 40 percent increase over the same weekend last fall, authorities said.

The effort, called party patrol, includes 10 extra officers on weekend nights who focus on underage drinking and drinking in public.

A total of 72 tickets were issued Friday, including nine noise violations, 26 for underage drinking, 28 for open intoxicants, five for urinating in public, and four for miscellaneous offenses, Sgt. Craig Flocken said. Police also issued nine traffic citations and made two arrests - one for disorderly conduct.

On Saturday night, 70 tickets were handed out, including nine for noise violations, 26 for minors in possession of alcohol, 29 for open intoxicants, and six for miscellaneous violations, Flocken said. Police made five arrests - two for disorderly conduct, one for drunken driving, one on a felony warrant and one on a misdemeanor warrant.

During the Labor Day weekend - always the busiest party patrol weekend - police issued a total of 287 citations. The enforcement effort will continue through the fall football season."

> From AANews' In Brief

Also, the Ann Arbor News profiles Liz Sweet, director of ITCS's "User Advocate" office: "Sweet has solutions"

Posted by Rob at 11:23 AM

Former president and U-M alum Gerald Ford and former secretary of the treasury Paul O'Neill will participate in two programs in the Rackham Building on September 18 to dedicate the planned construction of the School of Public Policy.

> URecord: "Gerald Ford to attend Ford School dedication"

Posted by Rob at 11:18 AM

"... The issue of Israel moved some neoconservatives - like Podhoretz - to the conservative side to be sure. But to write a piece whose central claim is that neoconservatives are Jewish nationalists out to control American policy in behalf of Israel is merely to mouth the false and hateful propaganda of the Islamic jihadists. It is the jihadists who have attacked America, who have blown up the Middle East peace and who have a desperate stake in the myth that Jews are behind the war on terror and that the war on terror is about Israel, when in fact it is about the hatred of Islamic radicals for a tolerant and democratic United States.

I am sorry to see such self-righteous ignorance on display in a college journal, but then what else is new?"

> Writes David Horowitz, in response to my friend Ari Paul's column "What the Hell is a Neocon?" that ran in the Daily last Wednesday. Read more about Horowitz here.

Posted by Rob at 1:25 AM

Monday, September 08, 2003

According to USA Today, Arnold Schwarzenegger has told a TV station that he opposes the racial information ban, or Proposition 54, in California. If passed, the initiative would prohibit the state from collecting information about race:

"Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, in an attempt to defuse criticism of the big contributions he's received from Indian tribes, announced Sunday that he is transferring about $3.8 million into the effort to fight Proposition 54.

The measure, which will be at the bottom of the lengthy recall ballot, would limit the amount of racial data that the state and local governments can collect.

Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger told a Spanish-language TV station Saturday that he opposed it. Both candidates are among those vying to replace Democratic Gov. Gray Davis if voters decide to recall him on Oct. 7. Davis is also against the initiative."

> USA Today: "California candidates sieze proposition 54 issue"

Posted by Rob at 11:18 AM

Sunday, September 07, 2003

"Personally, the idea of an American - me - and a group of Brits coming to Iraq to open a publication was fraught with concerns about cultural imperialism. I feared we would be granting legitimacy to an invasion and occupation that I consider to be illegal. But after careful thought and having published seven issues of a fortnightly magazine here in the Iraqi capital, I feel my reasons for doing this have been borne out, and that what we are doing is a good thing. It is, of course, a fine line we are walking, but here's how we're doing it.
The foreign press, though necessary here as well, cannot on its own increase the transparency of the administration and make it accountable for what is happening here - in-depth, ground-level reporting is vital, and making that kind of journalism accessible to people outside Iraq is extremely important. Is it not a duty of citizenship to make one's fellow citizens aware of the effects of their country's policies abroad, when one is in a position to do so?"

>These words from U-M grad Dave Ender's elegant op-ed in London's Guardian: "Can Westerners Give a Voice to Iraqis?"

Posted by Rob at 1:45 PM

"Shipley, 25, a 1996 graduate of Huron High School, appears in a "Girls of the Big 10" pictorial in the new October issue. She autographed copies of the magazine at two Ann Arbor stores Thursday. Photographed in the buff but for a chain link belt, she's featured in a 10-page pictorial of what Playboy claims are the "hottest coeds" in the Big 10.

Missing at the autograph session were the three other featured U-M students, Adrienne Rose, Sarah Louise and Lauren Kathleen, who apparently dislike using their surnames as much as public appearances.
Jenny Larwa, who graduated from U-M last year with a degree in women's studies, said she was shocked when she learned her friend would be featured in Playboy.

"Yen's so beautiful and exotic-looking, she's perfect for it," she said. "She's representing U-M very well."

Asked if she had any reservations about women posing nude for a man's magazine, Larwa admitted she did.

"I have conflicting views, but I support Yen and it's her decision," she said.

> From AANews: "U-M Senior among Playboy's 'Hottest Coeds'"

Posted by Rob at 1:38 PM

Recent crime from the Ann Arbor News:

"Woman reports peeping tom

An Ann Arbor woman said a man was peeking through her blinds into the bedroom of her home early Thursday, city police reported.

The 20-year-old woman, who lives in the 500 block of Packard Street, called police at 8:27 a.m. after she saw the man standing outside, reports said. He ran off before she could provide a good description to police and was not found in the area, reports said."

And this from today's paper:

"Two robbers take man's cell phone

Two men escaped on foot after robbing a man of his cell phone early Saturday, University of Michigan police said. The robbery occurred around 2:30 a.m. at the parking structure at 525 Church St., said Diane Brown, spokeswoman for U-M facilities and operations. A man was approached by two suspects who demanded he give them "whatever you got," Brown said. The victim gave the two men his cell phone, and they fled on foot without brandishing a weapon, Brown said. U-M has issued a crime alert in an attempt to capture the two men.

Police break up melee outside union

Officers from the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor police broke up a melee outside of the Michigan Union early Saturday after a dance in the union ballroom was shut down.

The annual dance, sponsored by the National Panhellenic Council, was shut down about 1 a.m. after a fight broke out in the Michigan Ballroom, said Diane Brown, spokesperson for U-M facilities and operations.

Officers from the U-M Department of Public Safety asked people to leave the union, but multiple fights then erupted outside the union and across State Street, Brown said. Police attempted to break up the fights and some people resisted. One person, whom Brown said was not a U-M student, was arrested for assaulting a police officer.

Brown said no alcohol was served at the event, attended by about 500 people, and there we no reported injuries. "That's fortunate, given the severity of the situation (outside)," she said.

Brown said additional arrests are possible as police investigate the cause of the melee, as well as whether guest policies were followed at the annual event."

Posted by Rob at 1:35 PM

Friday, September 05, 2003

" ... Should the daily seek total administrative independence from the University? I don't know, since there clearly are benefits to being an arm of Fleming: the ability to use the University's investment office to invest their surplus funds, and their cheap telephone and internet resources that enable the Daily to save money. There have, however, been instances in the past where the administration-appointed Board has exercised their right to nix certain editors through their consultation powers, and I don't know any reason why they wouldn't do that in the future. ... "

> Yes, the last part of my Daily series has been posted - Part 5: On the Independence of the Daily

Posted by Rob at 1:19 PM

Feedback I've recieved:

"I've enjoyed your critiques of the Michigan Daily, even though I work on the Eastern Echo (which itself is desperately in need of a kick in the ass). And sure, most of the time I'm just an entertainment writer (at the Echo or at Current Magazine), but I see the slow slide of student journalism reflected in the slip of truly respectible daily newspaper coverage as a whole.

I've grown up in Ann Arbor, and never known the Snooze to be anything but a provincial rag filled with wire reports and boring "aren't things swell" editorials. And while the Detroit Free Press and News used to be fairly adept at nailing hard news stories, since the strike they've fallen off to the point of irrelevance. So I think that a large part of the fall of strong student journalism is a lack of clear, relevant print news sources. Certainly the Daily (or even the Echo, for that matter) is not all that inferior to the work done at the local dailies, and if they're professional quality, obviously student quality isn't going to have much to aspire to.

Granted, it's easy to point to great print news organizations. The Times, The Globe, The Herald... But none of those are covering local news that reporters can relate to and learn from. I don't know about you, but I'm always curious to see how other news organizations have covered the same stories I have, and how they did it. Often, I learn something from that."

Posted by Rob at 1:18 PM

Thursday, September 04, 2003

As a student of University history, I thought my readers would be interested in this tidbit I came across in a biography of Alexander Grant Ruthven, who served as President of the University of Michigan from 1929 to 1951. (The Bentley has a nice page about former U-M presidents here) In the early days of the Great Depression, the state of Michigan was suffering "sooner and more severely than most other states," nearly 1/3 of the residents of the state of Michigan failed to pay their taxes and over 200 Michigan banks folded between 1929 and 1932. In response, the state government cut the University's funding by nearly 30%, forcing the University to undergo significant cuts.

Herein lies the twist: for the 1932-33 academic term, all salaries at the university were cut in an across-the-board reduction in pay, however the scale was graduated: the lowest paid were cut 6%, the next third 8%, and the highest paid (over $10,000) were cut 10 percent. President Ruthven's salary was reduced from $18,000 to $16,200 that year alone. The next year, similar across-the-board pay decreases were made, this time on a scale of 8%, 12%, 15%, and 20%, with anyone earning under $1,500 totally exempt. This brought President Ruthven's salary down to under $13,000. I think that these across-the-board cuts were a remarkably democratic and fair way of saving the University money in a time of crisis.

Although times certainly have changed, and this mild recession isn't anythink like the Depression, the University's cost-cutting techniques have been different. While it seems the administration has been trying to avoid changes that impact academics at all level, a $50,000-a-year woodshop frequented by students has been closed, and student Residence Hall Librarians laid off. Meanwhile 47 people at the University make over $250,000 a year, including our President Coleman at $475,000, not including a sizable bonus if she sticks around a few more years. At the state level, Governor Granholm and Republican leaders have announced they'll be cutting their own pay to do their part. I'll look forward to a similar announcement from Fleming.

Posted by Rob at 10:53 AM

My friend Mike Grass who currently works as professional reporter and copyeditor, but formerly served as a Daily news reporter, editor, and editorial page editor, has written a letter to the editor disagreeing with part of my "Agenda for Change." Here's the complete text, which he asked me to post:

"Newspapers are not democratic institutions and they should not be. The Daily can profess democratic ideals in its content but that doesn't mean it should be run on democratic ideals. 420 Maynard Street is not a New England town hall meeting, it's a newsroom with deadlines, decisions to make and articles to write. Newspapers need strong editors who can make decisions, who know what is going on and what the best course of action to take. They also need a strong editor oligarchy, who can steer the newspaper behind the scenes, while the reporters are chatting in the newsroom, working on stories, or in some cases, tormenting the business staff by hiding half-eaten wings from Mr. Spot's in their desks.

After working at the Daily for four years as a reporter and editor, and now working in a professional newsroom, I would feel uncomfortable going up to the senior editor or one of the managing editors telling them that the article on Sen. Daschle should move above the fold or that the feature piece on the Majority Whip needs to go to page 3. It's not my place, it's their decision. But my editors do value my input. Editors should feel obligated to take in the concerns of any staffer. But they also need to know when it is right to go and make a decision.

The Daily is actually more democratic than most newspapers. Take the editorial page, which is odd. Most newspapers decide their editorial stances through a cadre of editors. The Daily invites anybody from staff ... or in fact anybody from off the street (as soon as they meet staff requirements) to shape editorial policy. While the voice of the Daily is administered by the editorial page editor(s), it can be shaped by a body that has the possibility of being stacked by outside organizations and attracting random people who have "opinions," or at least think they do. That is, in itself, a pretty democratic body on campus.

Your frustrations with the Daily are warranted. You feel that editors have made the wrong decisions about many things. I'm sure that you're right at least a good chunk of the time. But you may be wrong too. Despite the strong front some editors will put up, they are weak too ... because they are still learning. They make mistakes. Hell, I made mistakes as an editor, but I learned and fine-tuned where appropriate. The Daily is filled with many intelligent people (and some extremely stupid ones as well). The smart, clever, adaptable and sharp-minded ones are supposed to rise into the editor class. But they exist in a chaotic organization, like most newsrooms are. (But most newsrooms don't double as a living room, or they aren't supposed to at least.) Some editors do well, some do an abysmal job.

As for suggestions, I'm not going to make any except for getting a copy desk. (It would help a lot. I campaigned against it during editor in chief elections, but in hindsight, it makes a lot of sense.) As for your point about letters to the editor, the edit page staff has a specific formula about how many letters are published based on how many letters of
a certain view come in vs. the prevailing topic of conversation vs. space. If you see a U-Wire piece, it's because they probably didn't have letters to go in there. The volume of letters varies, from a dry trickle to flash floods.

The glory days of the Daily you refer to in the 60s, 70s are long over. The days of Tom Hayden are dead. But it's not that the problems you refer to today weren't evident then. The Daily was never a democratic co-op, despite of the editorial stances in the newspaper. Hayden, if I remember Daily history correctly, was accused of being a dictator by some in the newsroom. But people respected him for it and the Daily did some great things. And the Daily continues to do great things, despite the turnover and the ups and downs of its staff.

What the Daily needs to continue to do is fight its isolation, engage campus and be relevant. If it isn't, it needs to re-evaluate its mission and plan of action."

In response to Grass, I'd like to make clear that only one of my ten suggestions involved a more democratic operations, and that was simply to "involve [staff] in decisions that effect the newspaper as a whole" something that I don't think is too hard to ask - all it would require is perhaps a briefly monthly staff meeting, and simply notifying the staffers about major changes, such as hiring new professional staff, or switching the format of their website.

I also clearly single out the editorial section for praise; I think it both unusually democratic, and unusually vital compared to the Daily's other sections, and I think there is reason to correlate the two: "As an editorial staff member, the editors are clearly known and firmly in charge of the section, however virtually all decisions about what editorials should say were decided in open meetings with the entire staff. Consequently, only rarely did staff members feel left out or ignored, even if the group decided not to adopt their point of view" Although Grass advocates a "strong editor oligarchy," I think concentrating power at the top of a student newspaper amplifys the weaknesses of inept editors. To me, while there should be mechanisms for efficiently running the paper, involving staff and seeking input in major changes should be encouraged.

Finally, although it's something of a laundry list, here are my ten specific suggestions about how to improve the Daily, and none of them involve transforming it into a "democratic co-op":

1. Run corrections for every error discovered in a consistent, prominent space in the newspaper

2. Make it a policy to print as many letters to the editor as realistically possible

3. Respect every member of the newspaper, and involve them in decisions that effect the newspaper as a whole

4. Revise the Michigan Daily Bylaws, including a clear, comprehensive ethics policy, and post it on the Daily's website

5. Make available email addresses to the entire news staff, by beat

6. Recruit underrepresented minorities on campus for all sections of the newspaper

7. Discuss news at weekly news staff meetings, make the daily news meetings required for reporters working on stories for the next day, and encourage collaboration

8. Hold public forums to discuss the newspaper's policies about using race, and other policies that generate controversy

9. Have a senior editor, or an officially selected person function as a reader ombudsperson to write a regular column about criticisms of the newspaper and conduct internal investigations of alleged ethics violations

10. Make internal newspaper operations more transparent - make M-Desk meetings public, encourage staffers to attend meetings of the Board for Student Publications.

> Read the entire "Agenda for Change".

Posted by Rob at 10:23 AM

In a letter to the editor today, former MSA president Matt Nolan seems to claim credit for the changes to the Code of Student Conduct, although I distinctly remember discussing an explicit burden of proof with OSCR head Keith Elkin and VP for Student Affairs Royster Harper during the year and a half I served as Student Rights Commission Chair. Meanwhile, as Matt Nolan is heaping praise on the administration ("Thanks to Coleman, [OSCR] Director Keith Elkin and all who work thanklessly for positive change every day"), the outgoing Student Rights Chair, most closely connected with the recent discussions with the administration, paints a very mixed picture about the true importance of the changes in another letter. In an article quoting him:
"There are basic rights given by other Big Ten universities and other elite universities that are unprotected by the University of Michigan. In many ways, we lag behind other universities," he said.
> From Daily: "Code critic finds flaws in hearings"

The Daily also profiles "students" running for city council, although Scott Trudeau graduated with a BGS in 2001: see "Students run for A2 city council"

Posted by Rob at 10:10 AM

"In addition to respecting the input of all staff members, the Daily should strive to make their organization more transparent. Democratic institutions are run in transparent ways based on written rules - that way conflicts can be minimized, and the organization can function independent any individual member. The Indiana Daily Student, one of the nation's best college newspapers, has a set of bylaws on their website in PDF format clearly demarcating the and regulations and principals that guide the paper. The Daily, in contrast, does everything possible to keep their short, convoluted document a secret. During my time there I know there to be more than one version saved on their poorly organized computer system. This lack of transparency was at the heart of a number of conflicts at the Daily - over selection of editors, what columnists could or couldn't write, and on what grounds they could be fired. Having well-known rules reduces conflict, and helps all parties focus on the task at hand: publishing a newspaper."

> Yes, that's right, the part you've all been waiting for is finally up - Part 4 of Inside the Daily: An Agenda for Change!

Here's a simple exercise: Try to locate the Michigan Daily's ethics policy on their website. I'll save you some time: it isn't there. Also isn't there is the newspapers poorly written, rarely-used Bylaws, which includes their brief vague rules about ethics. (The link leads to a copy of the Bylaws I was able to obtain last year - if someone at that paper would like to send me a more recent copy of the document - complete with a part added by John Schwartz that enables the editor in chief to fire any staffer - what I like to call the "Rob Goodspeed Clause" - I would be happy to post it.)

Next, compare the Daily's website to the website of the Indiana Daily Student, which links directly to a comprehensive 7-page ethics policy in PDF. However, I am optimistic: as a news staffer, I complained that the newspaper's website had NO contact information on it whatsoever for a long time. Last spring, they posted this comprehensive list of emails and phone numbers, a great step in the right direction. I'm also glad the Daily links to a clearly stated privacy policy regarding their email list. Maybe now they'll dare to post a policy for the things that really matter: the contents of the paper!

Posted by Rob at 1:09 AM

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

In an email to the student body yesterday, the Director of the University's discipline office, the "Office of Student Conflict Resolution," outlined changes made to the code of student conduct. Don't be fooled, however, most changes reflect "clarifying" language, not any substantive changes. For example, the City of Ann Arbor remains the limits for most of the code's provisions, even though the AAPD is legally responsible for policing off-campus areas. See the Daily's "Revised student code clarifies rights"

Posted by Rob at 9:55 AM

Although the headline reads "Assembly plans vigil on Sept. 11, voter drive," the Daily's story about last night's MSA meeting doesn't discuss anything about their plans for 9/11, which generated some controversy last year.

The Daily also finally reports on the closing of the Residence Hall Libraries, which will be "transformed" into something called "Community Learning Centers" by next fall:

" ... Along with the service and programming changes have come changes in staffing. Ray-Johnson said four of the 12 head Residence Hall Librarian positions have been eliminated. She said no RHLs were laid off due to the switch.

The RHLs unionized last spring, joining the University's Graduate Employees Organization, which raised wages and specified more benefits for workers - an event that GEO alleges spurred the elimination of the RHL positions.

"The RHLs worked for over a year to become part of the Graduate Employees' Organization and to win their first contract. ... This is a clear retaliation against these workers' efforts to improve their working conditions," said GEO President Dave Dobbie in a written statement.

But Ray-Johnson said there was no relationship between the unionization and the elimination of RHL positions. "We went through negotiations with good faith," she said. "We will continue to use graduate students."
Ray-Johnson also said all head librarians who returned from last year were given positions in Bursley and East Quad. She said there will be a reduced number of Library Information Assistants, library positions typically held by undergraduates. She did not know if those positions would be available in the CLC setup."

If by "reduced number" she means "fired almost all abruptly."

Posted by Rob at 9:49 AM

I've recieved this feedback anonymously from a "Miles Mayhem". I'll present it here without further comment, as I think it speaks volumes to the maturity and intelligence of the editors of the Michigan Daily:

"I hope Rob remembers to mention the incredible amount of crying he did when he blubbered to MDesk with tears streaming his cheeks. In the pursuit of truth that this blog seeks to elicit, he would be remiss to not mention the tearing, crying and begging he did before those of us at MDesk.
Rob, I've marked this private to give you a chance to actually tell the truth.
Do the right thing. Tell everyone about the crying and the tissues that were brought to you during your MDesk appeal."

Posted by Rob at 9:36 AM

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

This week's University Record is reporting that students have organized a vigil for 8 p.m. on September 11, "with music and remarks." The newspaper also reports the quiet elimination of the underutilized Night Owl bus, which had suffered a lack of riders since a route change a few years ago. Part of the Night Owl's old route on the medical campus will be incorporated into the "Commuter" bus routes.

Posted by Rob at 10:35 PM

"... All of that may be true, but I had one unassailable piece of evidence on my side: a student of university history, I knew the daily, while mediocre for much of its history, had had moments of greatness - especially in the 1960s, 1970s, and even up until the late 1980s - and I knew that at those times, writers had been interested in breaking stories that effected many students, and competed with the Ann Arbor News to break important stories. Some editors I had didn't even bother to read the Ann Arbor News. One story I wrote, at the encouragement of one of the better editors, did end up in a slightly modified form in that paper ... "

> Yes, this means Part 3 of Inside the Daily is online: "My Story at the Daily"

Posted by Rob at 10:12 PM

Yet another reason to buy your coffee, preferably fair trade, at one of Ann Arbor's locally-owned, independent coffee shops rather than Starbuck's: they contract with the notoriously anti-worker and anti-union laundry company Cintas. Read about it on GEO's newly-redesigned website here.

Posted by Rob at 9:59 AM

Coming after what was for most students a weekend of partying, President Mary Sue Coleman has sent a campus-wide email that includes both of the phrases "intellectual vigor" and "intellectual vibrancy." She also includes a thanks to the U staff for their work during the power outage: "We do not often have occasion to be so very aware of how important all of our staff members are at this university, so I want to be sure that all of us take this opportunity to say a heartfelt "thank you" -- not just for their efforts on August 14 and 15, but for all their work throughout the year. We always knew we could not last a day without our outstanding staff, and it was proven beyond any doubt during the power outage."

Posted by Rob at 9:40 AM

In today's news:

> The Chairman of the Department of Electrical Engineering at UC Santa Cruz Prof. John Visecky writes a letter to the editor in the Daily lauding U-M engineering professor Hyland, who was accused of perpetrating intellectual fraud in an article in the Daily this summer. The letter neatly sidesteps the issues raised this summer, concluding "Overcoming his loss to Michigan will be a challenge. A good way to start would be a speedy and just resolution of the conflict discussed in the Daily article."

> The University Library is considering cutting back hours on weekends and late at night in response to budget cuts. A spokesperson said they were waiting to hear from faculty before making a final decision, since they use the UGLI at 4 in the morning so much more than students.

> The Daily's agenda-setting editorial today weighs in on a number of issues: improving the undergraduate experience, lowering tuition, ensuring the success of the Life Sciences project, and urging President Coleman to spend more time on campus and look into teaching an undergraduate course.

> In a second, smaller editorial, they issue a much-needed reminder to campus that the editorial page is supposed to be "biased." The simple fact that such an editorial is needed doesn't bode well for the level of intellectual life at the University.

> Finally, Daily columnist Jess Piskor concludes he's a liberal elitist: "I knew going into college that my education would elevate me above others less fortunate. Now it's my duty to elevate as many others so they can begin to live as I do. Otherwise, my brief time in this fortress has been wasted."

Over the summer:

> The University abruptly re-organized the Residence Hall Libraries, firing all undergraduate employees in a plan that would place them under the control of the University Library. The Residence Hall Head librarians, also School of Information graduate students, had successfully petitioned to join the Graduate Employee Organization last year, before being fired in the cost-cutting measure.

> University officials also abruptly announced the closing of the U-M Student Woodshop, a resource utilized by many students to build a wide variety of projects. After a strong negative reaction, the University reneged on their plan to close the woodshop immediately, allowing a "Woodshop Users' Group" to attempt to fundraise the roughly $50,000 needed to keep it in operation for another year. Although the Taubman School of Architecture and other donors expressed interest in helping keep the resource open, they failed to raise enough money and have announced on their website they will close forever September 30.

> Three U-M students are running for the Ann Arbor City Council: Rick Lax in Ward 1, and Scott Trudeau and Dan Sheil in Ward 4.

> The University intends to go forward with the demolition of the Planada Apartment Building against the wishes of preservationists and city officials, who would like to see the structure saved.

> University President Coleman's husband gave $1,000 to the Howard Dean campaign, but other top administrators' presidential picks include Leiberman and Bush.

> BAM-N / RWL organizer Luke Massie was spotted fomenting the revolution in South London, of all places.

> Rabih Haddad, and his family, were deported to Lebanon by federal authorities.

> Decker Drugs was forced out of business by a greedy landlord.

> The Director of the LSA Honors program, Prof. Stephen Darwall, has started a blog, joining the growing ranks of U-M affiliates who have utilized this technology.

Posted by Rob at 8:50 AM

The Terminator's Logic

"Earlier in the day, Mr. Schwarzenegger made an appearance at the California State Fair and Exposition near Sacramento, where he also lauded the accomplishments of California's workers, but insisted he would not accept money from their unions. "I will never take money from the special interests, from Indian gaming, from unions or anything like that," he said.

Mr. Schwarzenegger has reneged on early campaign promises not to accept campaign contributions from anyone. State disclosures show he has collected more than $1 million from companies and individuals with business before the state. "I get donations from businesses and individuals absolutely, because they're powerful interests who control things," he said today.

He declined to explain the difference between special interests and powerful interests."

> From NYTimes: "As recall clock ticks, an awkward minuet"

Posted by Rob at 7:59 AM

Monday, September 01, 2003

Jesse Jackson was arrested today for blocking traffic with 30 others at a Labor Day protest at Yale University, telling the media:"This is the site of national Labor Day outrage. This is going to be for economic justice what Selma was for the right to vote."

Posted by Rob at 9:59 PM

The New York Times features several U-M students in an article today about college students and sleep deprivation:"Lack of Sleep takes its toll on student psyches"

Like many college students, Jenny Waller, 21, is something of a night owl. In her first weeks at the University of Michigan a few years ago, Miss Waller rarely went to bed before 3 or 4 in the morning.

"In college," she said, "your mom isn't there to tell you to go to bed, and for me, things only got worse. Within a month, I was staying up all night, going to bed at 9 a.m. and pretty much missing all of my classes. Many nights I would sit with my textbooks, but I couldn't concentrate. I wouldn't let myself get to bed until I finished the work. ...

Three months later, Miss Waller was told that she had clinical depression, and she temporarily withdrew from college.


Jodi Keller, 19, an undergraduate at Michigan, attributes her first serious episode of depression to a lack of sleep and the overcrowded schedules that most students accept as normal routine.

"When short of time," Ms. Keller said, "it's always sleep that I sacrifice first. I can't remember how many all-nighters I have pulled in order to complete my schoolwork and get good grades."

Another Michigan undergraduate, Victoria Chien, 21, has been treated for serious episodes of clinical depression since she was 17. Miss Chien said, "When I don't get adequate rest, my depression becomes much more severe."

Nevertheless, she remains active in the late-night culture.

"Sleep deprivation," Miss Chien said, "is a pretty big problem for me. I try to make it up over the weekends, but it doesn't help much.""

Posted by Rob at 9:49 PM

"... Neocons envision a world in which the United States is the unchallenged superpower, immune to threats. They believe that the US has a responsibility to act as a "benevolent global hegemon." In this capacity, the US would maintain an empire of sorts by helping to create democratic, economically liberal governments in place of "failed states" or oppressive regimes they deem threatening to the US or its interests. In the neocon dream world the entire Middle East would be democratized in the belief that this would eliminate a prime breeding ground for terrorists. This approach, they claim, is not only best for the US; it is best for the world. In their view, the world can only achieve peace through strong US leadership backed with credible force, not weak treaties to be disrespected by tyrants. ... "

> From the Christian Science Monitor's Special on neoconservatives: "Empire Builders"

Posted by Rob at 9:36 PM

Part 2 of Inside the Daily has been posted:

"Shortly after the incident above, which occurred on September 25, 2002, a strange man walked into the Michigan Daily newsroom. Excited, he said that he had been a former writer for the Daily, and was now employed by the University. He wanted to speak to the reporter investigating the spoof email because he thought he might have a theory about who sent them. The editor-in-chief at the time, Jon Schwartz, quickly replied something to the effect that the Daily didn't do investigations anymore. The man replied something like: "You don't do investigations any more? In my day, the Daily was investigating everything!" Overhearing this interaction, I introduced myself and offered to talk to the man. [...] "

> From Part 2: "Fair and Balanced" an Objective Newspaper Does Not Make: A Crisis of Truth

Posted by Rob at 9:18 PM

[...] "I think it's safe to say that most motivated, intelligent, creative young students that come to the Daily end up leaving. ... The newspaper is run with an extraordinarily rigid hierarchy, which undoubtedly dissuades many writers who wouldn't like to spend two years of their college career as the equivalent of someone's literary bitch. Since the newspaper is unprofessionally run, only the reporters who make it their life stand any chance of getting their articles in print consistently, and getting selected for desirable beats. And being asked to work "production" - from roughly 4 PM until around midnight or later - two nights a week - undoubtedly scared off people who could contribute much to the newspaper. (In the past, other students interested in layout and production were hired to do this job, and writers focused on writing and reporting.)

Survivors must be willing to dedicate obscene amounts of time for extremely little pay to a mediocre publication for editors who are sometimes rude, immature, unsophisticated, and who tolerated zero dissention in the ranks on any matter of substance. I'll leave for your judgment whether the leftovers prove savvy and wise senior writers and editors themselves. [...] "

> From Inside the Daily Part 1: The Symptoms

Posted by Rob at 9:11 PM

" [...] I suspect that much of this effort is being undertaken to make the admissions system more opaque, not to make it better.

In June, Justice David Souter's argument that Michigan's point system deserved "an extra point" for frankness rather than requiring a system where the "winners are the ones who hide the ball." His colleague, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, wrote similarly, suggesting that being honest about affirmative-action policies is "preferable to achieving similar numbers through winks, nods, and disguises."

However personalized the new system is, I suspect that next year's freshman class will be remarkably similar to this year's class. "Critical mass" will assert itself. Fuzzy logic triumphs.
Our colleges and universities are powerful social elevators. They can be springboards for the disadvantaged to move up and ahead. But progress is painfully slow. Last week, the College Board released numbers showing a 207-point gap between SAT scores for African Americans and whites.

Now a great university is expending millions of dollars to change its admissions policies -- dollars that would be far better spent to coach and acclimate minority and under-privileged students who drop out of the university at high rates."

> From: "U-M changes it's admissions, but is it money well spent?"

Posted by Rob at 1:28 PM

"I think the city does need to allow more high-density developments that include low-income housing -- but not exclusively low income development "projects." We don't need seven story buildings with million dollar condos on crowded side streets."

Writes my friend and 4th Ward candidate for Ann Arbor City Council Scott Trudeau about the impact of the mayor's greenbelt plan. City politics in Ann Arbor in both major political parties is driven by the interests of older, mostly property-owning residents who have systematically opposed new development and modest proposals to increase the number of rental units avaliable to the city's mostly student rental population. Trudeau, a 2001 graduate of the University, is running as a member of the Green Party against Marcia Higgins, the incumbent republican, and Dan Shiel, a libertarian. Ward 4 includes a sizable slice of the student neighborhood area, including the housing along State Street up to a little beyond the intersection with Packard, and then west to 5th Street. Confusing? Thank your city government, which has sliced up the student population into nearly every ward. The good news? In the last election - 2001, a democrat lost to Marcia Higgins by just 76 votes out of only about 1,200 cast.

Posted by Rob at 12:55 AM

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