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February03 (Feb. 18-22)



Thursday, October 30, 2003

To receive every new entry on this website as a plaintext email immediately when I post it, send an email to with "subscribe" in the subject line.

Posted by Rob at 5:42 PM

I've posted the results of my city council candidate questionnaire. I know it might look a little unwieldy, but I've organized it by ward: find which ward you will be voting in, and then scroll to that part of the page. Tomorrow I'll post a basic student voting guide, with voting suggestions for each ward.

> Ann Arbor City Council Questionnarie 2003

Posted by Rob at 4:38 PM

Quick question: If I created an RSS feed for the Goodspeed Update, would you use it? Feel free to use comments to post a simple Yes or No, or email thoughts to rob @ RSS is a way of letting others know when you've updated your blog.

Posted by Rob at 4:20 PM

There are a few articles of interest in the Daily today. They covering the greenbelt issue in the city council elections in "A2 city council hopefuls discuss urban sprawl" However, their statement "... all University residence halls are located in the 4th Ward" is incorrect:

- Ward 1 contains West Quad and Bursley, and the Michigan Union and Bursley are voting locations
- Ward 2 contains the Hill dorms, and Markely is a voting site
- Ward 3 contains East Quad, and is also a voting site
- Ward 4 contains South Quad, also a voting site
- Ward 5 contains the Main Street area and the Northwest corner of the city, most students would vote at a precinct at Jefferson and Fifth Street (west of Main street)

For more voting information see my voting page.

From the article: While Kinsey said he thinks the city is effective in maintaining a tolerant balance in relations between the Ann Arbor Police Department and the students, Trudeau said, “I would like to see an independent board set up to address complaints that students and also residents have of unfair violations.”

The Daily also endorses Scott Trudeau and Rob Haug in Wards 1 and 4 in an editorial today.

Also of note is "Lecturers rally for improved relations", and the Daily writes about yesterday's crime alert: "Student assaulted near Frieze building" Finally, a representative of the Border's employees' union responds to a viewpoint written by management: "Borders, not Daily, needs to get facts straight."

Posted by Rob at 3:47 PM

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Here's a crime alert that was just issued by DPS:



Date: October 28, 2003 6:15 PM

Location: 800 Block E. Washington

Offense: Criminal Sexual Conduct 2nd Degree

Summary: The suspect jumped out from behind some bushes and fondled a female student. The woman was able to free herself and fled the area.

Suspect: White male, 25-35 years old, 5'10"-6'0", approximately 150 lbs. He was described as having dark, spiked hair. He was last seen wearing a dark blue or black, puffy, waist-length jacket."

Posted by Rob at 3:23 PM

The Ann Arbor News writes about the issue of density in the city of Ann Arbor yet again in a story today, "However city votes, density issues loom." Underlying the whole story is a generally skeptical tone, and the assumption that only people living way out in suburban developments (and subscribe to the News) are "city residents." Here's an example:

"In almost every instance, city residents have opposed higher-density housing, especially when condominiums are proposed near single-family homes."

Let's analyze this statement. First, the News is excluding students, over 1/3 of the city, from definition of "city residents." Have you ever heard students oppose higher-density housing downtown? A few might grumble about particulars: that new housing is too expensive, the buildings are ugly, etc, but in general it's widely recognized there's a distinct lack of enough good, inexpensive housing near campus. The article briefly mentions accessory apartments, which the New York Times though important enough to write a story about earlier this month. Oh, that's right: City Council had already unanimously rejected them in the city!

And they include something I didn't know about U-M athletic director Bill Martin: he believes in density. Although, perhaps only because it would benefit him as a real estate developer:

"Changes require foresight and nerve, says Bill Martin, athletic director at the University of Michigan and chairman of First Martin Corp., an Ann Arbor real estate development company.

Martin, who also serves on the Washtenaw Land Trust, holds an MBA from the University of Stockholm. Density is an integral part of Stockholm's master plan, and has resulted in high-rise buildings 10 minutes from the countryside. "Stockholm has had a master plan since the 15th century," said Martin. Ann Arbor has master plans as well, but according to Martin, has less willingness to accept density.

A supporter of the greenbelt proposal, Martin believes increasing density the only way to foster a healthy tax base necessary to repair aging infrastructure. "We need 1,000 units of housing or more, and not just affordable housing, but all levels. We need three or four Tower Plazas," said Martin, referring to the 26-story condominium building at the corner of Maynard and East William streets. "

Posted by Rob at 2:53 PM

The Association of Michigan Universities, an association of student governments at Michigan's public universities (of which MSA is part), has begun a letter-writing campaign to the Michigan legislature to convince them not to cut funding for higher education, recently passing the 2,000 letter mark through their website

> See AP: "Students turn in thousands of letters against cuts"

Also, the events planned for National Take Affirmative Action Day have made the AP wire. ("U. of Michigan students host National Affirmative Action Day events") In case you didn't recieve this via email:


Wednesday, Oct. 29th:

Let Our Voices Be Heard.
an interactive program on affirmative action featuring Ann Arbor Slam Poets!
7pm Pendelton Room, Michigan Union

Thursday, Oct. 30th:
Come out to the diag to hear a BET comic impersonate Ward Connerley himself. Music from DJ Grafitti, MCed by a WJLB radio personality!
12pm, DIAG

10am, Anderson Room, Michigan Union"

Posted by Rob at 3:23 AM

As a reminder, GEO and LEO are planning a noon rally today on the Diag:

"Campus Equity Week

Fight for Lecturers’ Job Security
Fight against Proposed health Care Cutbacks
Fight Undergrad tuition Hikes

Diag -- Noon

Wednesday, Oct. 29th"

Posted by Rob at 2:43 AM

Why Are We Back in Vietnam? ask Frank Rich in a New York Times Op-Ed piece this Monday, discussing the nature of journalism in wartime. Luckily, there's still Frontline and Nightline, two television shows Rich singles out for their truth-telling. And to make Frontline even more appealing, their program on Iraq is available to watch online via streaming video on their snappy website.

"A TV news venue that the administration spurns entirely, by contrast, stands a chance of providing actual, fresh, accurate information. There have been at least two riveting examples this month. Ms. Rice, Mr. Powell and Mr. Rumsfeld all refused to be interviewed for an Oct. 9 PBS "Frontline" documentary about the walkup to the Iraq war. Yet without their assistance, "Frontline" nonetheless fingered Ahmad Chalabi as an administration source for its pre-war disinformation about weapons of mass destruction and the Qaeda-Saddam link. It also reported that the administration had largely ignored its own state department's prescient "Future of Iraq" project — a decision that helped lead to our catastrophic ill-preparedness for Iraq's post-Saddam chaos. "Frontline" didn't have to resort to leaks for these revelations, either: the sources were on-camera interviews with Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, our first interim leader in Iraq, and Mr. Chalabi himself.

The administration officials who stiffed "Frontline" habitually do the same to ABC's "Nightline." Ted Koppel explains why in a round-table discussion published in a new book from the Brookings Institution Press, "The Media and the War on Terrorism": "They would much rather appear on a program on which they're likely not to get a tough cross-examination." On Oct. 15, the week after the "Frontline" exposed, the White House was true to form when asked to provide a guest for a "Nightline" exploring the president's new anti-media media campaign. But later in the day, the administration decided to send a non-marquee name, Dan Bartlett, its communications director. Mr. Koppel, practicing the increasingly lost art of relentless follow-up questioning, all but got his guest stuttering as he called him on half-truth after half-truth. Mr. Bartlett tried — but soon failed — to get away with defending a litany of prewar administration claims and insinuations: that the entire American contribution to rebuilding Iraq would be only $1.7 billion; that Iraqi oil income would pay for most of the reconstruction; and that the entire war would proceed as quickly as a cakewalk.
At the tender age of six months, the war in Iraq is not remotely a Vietnam. But from the way the administration tries to manage the news against all reality, even that irrevocable reality encased in flag-draped coffins, you can only wonder if it might yet persuade the audience at home that we're mired in another Tet after all."

Posted by Rob at 2:33 AM

LSA Senior, activist extraordinaire, and my friend Jackie Bray turned 21 Monday and I promised I would post about it. Well, here it is, I'd link to scandalous photos and quotes, but they're not forthcoming. Yes, this website has been reduced to a gossip sheet.

Posted by Rob at 2:20 AM

I've been told the Ann Arbor News printed the letter to the editor I wrote with Ben King about the YMCA site on October 7th last Sunday. If printing it nearly a month after I wrote it wasn't enough, they leave off Ben's name. I'd also link to a copy of the letter as it appears in print, but I can't seem to find it on the Ann Arbor News website.

Posted by Rob at 2:15 AM

"The burden is on you, the upper-middle class."

Whoa Ari, let's not be too revolutionary. As a disclaimer, Ari's something of a friend of mine, but hey, being biased is what I do. Here's some more excerpts from his column this week in the Daily:

"I have a confession to make. I have a soft spot for the fire-starting anarchists in the Earth Liberation Front. Shocking how a beef-eating, leather-coat-sporting chap like myself can giggle approvingly at ELF antics, but hey, revolution makes for strange bedfellows.

Some raise their fists in support, some cry on about ecoterrorism and some need an explanation. The ELF is a loose network of militant environmentalists that has been known to set fire to under-construction high-income houses and vandalize and incinerate SUVs whose gas consumption is rapidly destroying our environment as well as funding the Saudi terrorist regime, a loyal ally of the Bush-Cheney junta.

What I hope the ELF can do is make SUV drivers feel as if they have been vilified, as if their precious Ford Explorer is in itself a criminal waiting to be executed by the vigilante squad because of its lethal effect on the rest of us. Ditto for the developers; their actions not only kill the landscape, but their conformist dreams are killing our nation's middle class.

Perhaps it's unfair that SUV owners would have to live in fear of the ELF. Well, when I owned a car, I had to live in fear because I was constantly flanked by these tanks that could kill me with one soft collision, because I couldn't afford an SUV's high cost. SUV drivers don't like the taste of fear? Neither do I. ... "

In other news, does anybody want to apply to serve on Ann Arbor's Cool Cities Advisory Group?

Posted by Rob at 1:54 AM

AFSCME 3800, which represents 1,800 clerical workers at the University of Minnesota, is on strike, that University's first in over 40 years. Both sides seem preparing for a long battle: the Union is soliciting strike funds via Paypal on the web, and is making arrangements to help their members stay clothed, fed, and housed without paychecks. Also, former Daily editor Nick Woomer is sitting in a University building in solidarity with the workers.

For more information:
> AFSCME 3800 Website
> (student supporters' website)
> Sit-in Webcast

Posted by Rob at 1:27 AM

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Thursday's Greenbelt Discussion makes the Ann Arbor News "In Brief" section:

"Greenbelt forum at U-M Thursday

University of Michigan student groups are sponsoring a public forum on the Greenbelt proposal, urban sprawl and affordable housing in Ann Arbor from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday at the Michigan Union Ballroom.

The speakers will be Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje; Margaret Dewar, a U-M professor of urban planning; Rick Hills, a U-M law professor; Mike Garfield, director of the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor; and Matt Lassiter, a U-M professor of history. There will be time for participants to ask questions on Proposal B. The event is free and open to the public."

Posted by Rob at 3:43 PM


"900 block Northwood Street, 6:30 a.m. Monday. Door kicked in; box of checks, TV, laptop computer, digital camera and stereo player taken. Total value: $2,220.

800 block of East University Avenue, 11:35 a.m. Monday. Entry through unlocked door; a University of Michigan football ticket, money and a cell phone taken. Total value: $300."

And more oddities of our fair city from the Ann Arbor News police beat:

"Peeper escapes during police chase

Police chased a window peeper through backyards early Monday after he watched a woman showering, but officers were unable to catch him, Ann Arbor Police reported.

A 21-year-old woman said she as showering at her home in the 800 block of East Ann Street at 7:30 a.m. Monday when she saw a man peering through her bathroom window, reports said. She said she screamed, then the man ran northbound in a long trench coat, reports said.

Officers spotted a man matching the description in a gated yard, but he was able to run off before they got close, reports said. A police tracking dog also was unable to find him.

Man reports abuse by homeless man

A 47-year-old homeless man was arrested Monday night on allegations that he physically and sexually assaulted a man who allowed him to stay at his residence in the last few weeks, Ann Arbor Police said.

The 29-year-old victim, who is mentally disabled, said he had been forced to perform sex acts and beg for money for the older man, reports said. He said he permitted the man to move in with him earlier this month and then became fearful of him, reports said.

The suspect is being held at the Washtenaw County Jail while prosecutors determine whether he will be charged with a crime. He also was wanted on misdemeanor warrants, police said. "

Posted by Rob at 3:42 PM

The University loves to evoke the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) when asked about their internal discipline policies, or to make public any data remotely related to students. However, a 1998 FERPA amendment allows them to release data about disciplinary proceedings where students were found responsible for behavior "that would constitute a crime of violence or nonforcible sex offense." I think this issue is complex: because the burden of proof is lower for disciplinary proceedings than it is in a court of law, and the process at U-M is generally designed to be "educational," there might be a good reasons to keep this information private. However, the University can also invoke FERPA simply to keep discipline secret, which may permit abuse - transparency is one way to make sure policies are enforced in a consistant, fair manner. This from a report by the Student Press Law Center:

"... Although federal law permits the disclosure of records of the outcome of disciplinary proceedings when a student is found responsible for behavior that would constitute a violent crimes or a nonforcible sex offense, many college say they would rather maintain the students' confidentiality. Others said they were either compelled or restricted from releasing the records under state law, but many of those schools were in agreement over their concern for students' privacy.

The unscientific survey raises the question as to whether the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is effective in its current state of voluntary release of that crime info. FERPA states a school can lose its federal funding if it has a policy or practice of releasing studentsÂ’ education records without receiving consent. Under a 1998 amendment, schools are permitted to release the outcome of disciplinary proceedings where a student is found responsible for behavior that would constitute a crime of violence or nonforcible sex offense. Schools, however, are not required to release this information under the amendment. Access advocates argue that state open-records laws should require that release in some states.
The University of Michigan said that releasing the documents would constitute an "unwarranted invasion of an individual's privacy" and were thus exempt under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. However, courts have consistently said that releasing information involving allegations of criminal misbehavior does not constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy."

Posted by Rob at 3:25 PM

Monday, October 27, 2003

The freshman seminar class Honors 135 Section 001 is planning a forum with LSA Honors Program Director Stephen Darwall on honors' new admissions criteria next Sunday, November 2nd from 4:30-6:00 PM in the MSA Chambers. I think this might be a good opportunity for students to learn about the new admisisons policy, and let him know how important the changes were. If that weren't enough, the organizers are planning to serve free Jimmy John's, and will compile the concerns into a formal document to present to the program. Also, perhaps this could be a good venue to discuss the Perlman Honors Commons.

Posted by Rob at 8:53 PM

The Daily finally covers the increasing costs of health insurance for University employees in their article today, "Plan hikes employee insurance payments." They wait until nearly the last paragraph to give what should be in the first: "The committee estimated that employees would pay anywhere from an extra $15 to $430 in premiums under the plan, depending on which of the seven proposed insurance plans they chose, and what tier they were in." I suspect the GEO rally has something to do with these increases, which they believe violates the terms of their contract.

Also in the news: The Power Mac G5s now installed in Angel hall have two monitors: "Students see double with new monitors in computing sites," and the Daily writes about evangelism on campus, somehow lumping the Muslim Student Association's Islam Awareness Week along with Christian proselytizers: "Preachers, groups try to gain converts on campus."

Posted by Rob at 8:39 PM

Planada Parking Structure?

The University has razed the Planada Apartment building:
> September 2003
> October 2003 (late last week)

Posted by Rob at 7:37 PM

The Graduate Employees Organization is calling a rally noon this Wednesday on the Diag in this enigmatic post on their website:

"Calling all workers & students:
What do tuition increases, health care cutbacks, and no job security have in common?
Come rally for the fair treatment of U of M employees on the Diag, Wed. 10/29 at 12 PM. A fun surprise ending is promised!"

Posted by Rob at 12:02 AM

Sunday, October 26, 2003

"FCB House of Flavors" is the name of the new business that opened in the formerly vacant spot across from Cafe Ambrosia on Maynard Street. And the business model is perhaps more absurd than the name: the store sells apparently only drinks, dispensed from probably two dozen machines situated along the walls, including a variety of frozen smoothies, and hot drinks - flavored coffees and cappuccino, and others. There is exactly one employee at any one time, the person at the cash register.

If one can get beyond the simple possibility that anyone thought opening a frozen drink store in Ann Arbor in October was a good idea, I predict the operation will fail; most likely close in less than six months. Why? First, this is Ann Arbor: people aren't buying drinks for the flavor, they want to pay for an experience: the sound of the cappichino machine, a place to sit and read in a place to go to that's not their house or on campus. Second, in our neo-corporate world what sells is authenticity, not sheer flavor and variety. Whether foods or consumer products, for the modern consumer novelty alone isn't enough: it must be attached to something intangible. This is why Starbuck's has a conscious corporate policy to open stores in historic buildings in urban environments, to somehow counteract the karmic effect of all those mall-and-airport shops, and why Potbelly's desires "Buildings with character and/or unique features" to open new franchises: they know they are selling not just coffee and too-small sandwiches, but also an experience.

What would work? In this city obsessed, like much of America, with the authentic and unusual, America's most chic products can coexist alongside nonmanufactured authenticities. Along State Street alone, one can purchase Mavi jeans at Bivouac or the latest in stylish eyewear at See, but also buy imported handmade clothes or Fair Trade Coffee. And so, it's sad to say, but a corporate entity that seeks to aggressively highlight the historic architecture of Nickels Arcade in order to burnish their carefully honed image would most likely succeed, whether a coffee shop or restaurant.

I, of course, would prefer to see a small business there, for social, economic, political, and personal reasons. It might be a sad observation, but I think the market probably could support yet another coffee shop. A business I think might thrive at that location is is something called an "old-world bakery" - IE, a place that, gasp, bakes food! I think that such a place could complement Nickel's Arcade's other businesses, which include a luxury men's clothing shop, imported gift and antique stores, and a shop selling popcorn and candy. I think the clientele frequenting these stores would be more than willing to pay a premium for a fresh, well-made brownie, muffin, or cookie, and a nice place to sit. Also, within a few city blocks is a variety of offices, all which I'm sure would invest in locally produced carbohydrates for special mornings, meetings, and visitors.

I discovered such a shop in Detroit along Cass Avenue near Wayne State University Summer 2002, when, as intern at the ACLU of Michigan, I was sent to buy muffins. After walking three typically deserted Detroit city blocks one morning a little after 7:00AM, entering Avalon Breads I was forced to wait in line with what appeared to be an eclectic combination of suits, students, hipsters, and local residents to buy homemade, organic baked goods. Here's more about that company:

"Motivated by the grassroots development manifesto promoted by Grace Boggs and others, business partners Ann Perrault and Jackie Victor opened Avalon International Breads in the Corridor in 1996.

"What I really liked about what Jimmy and Grace talked about is that it was a very practical approach to revolutionary concepts," says Jackie Victor. "They had a big picture vision for the city and planet, but very tangible methods for reaching it. You can actually see the results of your labor after four years, not four decades."

Serving fresh-baked organic breads, pastries and focaccia pizzas, as well as coffees, Avalon serves area residents, suburbanites, and city restaurants that feature the bakery's breads on their menus.

Perrault and Victor believe that community-based businesses must economically and spiritually uplift their neighborhoods. The bakery keeps money circulating within the Cass Corridor community by hiring at least 50 percent of its racially diverse staff from the neighborhood. It recycles, and, though it is a small business, offers full-time employees health insurance and average wages of $9.00 an hour.

Perrault and Victor’s success flies in the face of nay-sayers who predicted that the business would fail because of the duo’s insistence on locating it in a rough-and-tumble area of the city and placing a large plate-glass window on the storefront.

"People felt like we were crazy," says Victor. "Even the landlord said the neighborhood wasn't ready for windows."
(From "Detroit Renaissance")

Posted by Rob at 11:26 PM

"All three candidates are focusing attention on Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), a method of counting votes that ensures that the winner must have a majority of the votes, and which allows people to rank their choices, enabling voters to vote their conscience while eliminating runoff votes and ending the spoiler issue (see for more details of IRV). Ann Arbor once had IRV, in the 1975 mayoral race that elected Al Wheeler. In addition, the candidates are variously raising development, affordable housing, water and transportation issues."

> From the Green Party's Ann Arbor city council candidates' press release.

Posted by Rob at 6:30 PM

I just sent a questionnaire to the candidates for city council. The deadline for responses is Wednesday at 8:00 PM, and I'll post them here sometime Wednesday night. Here are the questions:

1.In your view, what are the most important issues facing the city?

2.What is your position on the mayor's Greenbelt proposal?

3.Do you consider students to be residents of the city of Ann Arbor in the same sense that you are, or are they something else?

4.Are the interests of students adequately represented in Ann Arbor city government? What would you do as a member of city council to increase the levels of communication and involvement of students in city government?

5.What would you do as a member of city council, if anything, to make Ann Arbor a more pedestrian-friendly city?

6.How would you have voted (or to incumbents, did vote) on the resolution regarding the Patriot Act passed last summer? Would you vote for resolutions about issues the city is only tangentially connected to – such as the Patriot Act, or policies of other branches of government?

7.How should the city handle parking downtown? What do you think about the Downtown Development Authority?

8.What would you do make living in Ann Arbor more affordable? Are rents too high? If so, what should be done about it?

9.Would you support the re-districting of the city wards that would create one or more majority-student wards? Would you support changing the way the city council is selected?

Here's a list of the candidates and their email addresses. (I've inserted spaces in the addresses to foil spammers - delete them to use) The only candidate I wasn't able to find either an email address or working telephone number for was Donna Rose - if anyone can help me contact her, please email me at rob @

# 1st Ward:
Incumbent Bob Johnson Democrat - rjohnson@
Rob Haug, Green Party - rhaug@, rob@
Rick Lax, Independent - rlax@

# 2nd Ward:
Incumbent Mike Reid, Republican - MReid@
Amy Seetoo, Democrat - adseetoo@

# 3rd Ward
Leigh Greden, Democrat - lgreden@
Rich Birkett, Libertarian - vicechair@
Donna Rose, Independent

# 4th Ward
Incumbent Marcia Higgins, Republican - MHiggins@
Dan Sheill, Libertarian - dsheill@
Scott Trudeau, Green Party - strudeau@, scott@
Jon Kinsey, Independent - kinseyforcouncil@

# 5th Ward:
Incumbent Wendy Woods, Democrat - wwoods@
Jason Kantz, Libertarian - kantz@, jason@
Adrianna Buonarroti Green Party - abuonaro@, junes_tears

Party websites:
> Huron Valley Greens
> Washtenaw County Libertarian Party
> Ann Arbor Democratic Party
> Washtenaw County Republican Party

Posted by Rob at 6:16 PM

Saturday, October 25, 2003

The Ann Arbor News gives the impression that supporters of the Greenbelt proposal are rolling in cash, although they do note many paragraphs into the story that "The reports indicate that thus far, the greenbelt opponents have vastly outspent supporters, with the majority for cable television ads." If one group raises more than their opponents in one filing cycle simply because the timing of some of their large donations, but the opponent has "vastly outspent" them, is it ethical and accurate to choose the headline "B friends raise most funds"? I think that what's news is that hundreds of thousands of dollars of money from a few corporate homebuilders has filled TV and radio with propaganda and paid for anonymous, harassing phone calls, and the supporters of B are struggling to keep up.

The News also found it necessary to re-write a press release about the creation of a new, pro-sprawl group, even though they don't plan to spend more than $1,000. If I start a group with no members and no budget, do you think they'll write about me? See AANews: "New PAC set up to fight Proposal B"

Posted by Rob at 11:53 AM

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has arrested 245 suspected illegal immigrants in 21 states employed as cleaners at Walmart in something the federal government is calling "Operation Rollback." The Associated Press has reported that investigators have found evidence Walmart knowingly employed the illegal immigrants.

What I found interesting was the list of countries where the immigrants were citizens. Although I haven't read much about it, this summer I found many people working seasonal jobs in both Maine and North Carolina (and I assume across the U.S.) were from the former Soviet states and eastern Europe. Here's the list: Mexico 90, Czech Republic 35, Mongolia 22, Brazil 20, Uzbekistan 14 , Poland 13, Russia 12, Georgia 11, Lithuania 11, Slovakia 4, Bulgaria 3, Hungary 3, Ukraine 2, Argentina 1, El Salvador 1, Guatemala 1, Honduras 1, Tajikistan 1.

> See "Wal-Mart plans review of all 1 million U.S. workers after raids"

Posted by Rob at 11:16 AM

"Bruce Madej chuckles at the suggestion that his "publicity machine" at the University of Michigan won the Heisman Trophy for Charles Woodson in 1997.

"Heisman budget," said Madej, Michigan's sports information director. "What budget? We didn't spend anything."

Nor did his department have to. The Heisman formula was working for Woodson.

"The player with the best chance plays for a top-10 team, plays on television, plays well late in the season and plays a skill position," said Dennis Dodd, a Heisman voter who reports on college football for CBS "That's the formula." ...

> From NYTimes: "In Heisman Competition, Fitting Into the Formula Helps"

Posted by Rob at 11:08 AM

Friday, October 24, 2003

"A strike continues to be imminent," says UFCW Local 876, the union which represents the employees of Ann Arbor's downtown Borders. The union announced today on their blog that Borders Inc. has agreed to settle charges of unfair labor practices filed under the National Labor Relations Board. According to the union, the charges include:

"- unlawfully suspending and discharging a union supporter;
- unlawfully interrogating employees about the union organizing drive;
- unlawfully threatening employees with discipline if they discuss discipline with other employees;
- unlawfully instituting more onerous working conditions."

Posted by Rob at 12:21 PM

Members of the Michigan Student Assembly and the Residence Hall Association clashed yesterday about revising the access guidelines to the Residence Halls, so that anyone with an M-Card could access the dorms between 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM. Lest we forget: until February 2002, the Residence Halls were open to anybody 8-5. Brimming under the surface of this article is the issue of MSA campaigning: with the elections coming up, I can only assume that members of MSA would like to see access made more lenient to facilitate campaigning.

However, the conflict is something of an irrelevant charade: RHA has even less formal political authority to change policies than MSA, and as the article says "MSA will need the consent of RHA in order for the University's Housing Board to consider making changes to the current access policies." Yes, that's right: they're fighting over a suggestion. Even if RHA and MSA were in agreement in this one I doubt the policy would change: the University seems happy to react to parent fear by creating a false (because it's still easy to get in) security culture in the residence halls with locked doors, cameras, and surveillance.

Posted by Rob at 12:11 PM

The Ann Arbor News continues their greenbelt coverage today:

> "Would greenbelt be a draw or a deterrent?"
> "Candidates nearly split on greenbelt issue"

Posted by Rob at 12:08 PM

The Michigan Student Assembly is once again providing cheap transportation to the Detroit Metro airport for Thanksgiving. MSA Airbus is offering ten trips on November 25 and 26 to the airport, and frequent return trips on Sunday, November 30. Tickets, available at the Michigan Union Ticket Office, are $8 for one-way and $13 round-trip with reservations. Tickets can also be purchased on a standby basis, although reservations are suggested.

This service is the hard work of my friend and U-M undergrad Neil Greenberg and a small group of dedicated members of student government. It's an embarrassment to the University that this financially sustainable and much-needed service must be organized by undergrads through the auspices of student government: the administration should, like many other colleges and Universities, run a shuttle to and from the airport on a regular schedule, with extra trips when demand requires. Although I believe it should be free, they could easily charge a small amount - and the costs to the University, which owns their own buses and purchases fuel in bulk - would almost certainly be less than Airbus, which uses charter coaches.

Posted by Rob at 11:43 AM

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Have you heard anything about electronic voting? No, I don't mean a scantron machine that verifies your paper ballot before you leave the voting precinct (Used in Ann Arbor and just about everywhere else rich people live) - I mean a machine that records your vote electronically, keeps no record, and registered negative 16,022 votes for Al Gore in Florida. Made by a company that gives lots of money to republicans. To quote something I heard Jim Hightower say once, 'no matter how cynical I get I can never seem to keep up'. Here's some information about students who have made public internal documents, including the one below, from that company. Oh, and I'm risking a lawsuit from the Diebold corporation for posting this here:

"From: Lana Hires []
Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 8:07 AM
Cc: Deanie Lowe
Subject: 2000 November Election

Hi Nel, Sophie & Guy (you to John),
I need some answers! Our department is being audited by the County. I have been waiting for someone to give me an explanation as to why Precinct 216 gave Al Gore a minus 16022 when it was uploaded. Will someone please explain this so that I have the information to give the auditor instead of standing here "looking dumb". I would appreciate an explanation on why the memory cards start giving check sum messages. We had this happen in several precincts and one of these precincts managed to get her memory card out of election mode and then back in it, continued to read ballots, not realizing that the 300+ ballots she had read earlier were no longer stored in her memory card . Needless to say when we did our hand count this was discovered.
Any explantations you all can give me will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks bunches,

If that weren't hair-raising enough, check out "All the President's Votes" from the London Independent:

"Something very odd happened in the mid-term elections in Georgia last November. On the eve of the vote, opinion polls showed Roy Barnes, the incumbent Democratic governor, leading by between nine and 11 points. In a somewhat closer, keenly watched Senate race, polls indicated that Max Cleland, the popular Democrat up for re-election, was ahead by two to five points against his Republican challenger, Saxby Chambliss.

Those figures were more or less what political experts would have expected in state with a long tradition of electing Democrats to statewide office. But then the results came in, and all of Georgia appeared to have been turned upside down. Barnes lost the governorship to the Republican, Sonny Perdue, 46 per cent to 51 per cent, a swing of as much as 16 percentage points from the last opinion polls. Cleland lost to Chambliss 46 per cent to 53, a last-minute swing of 9 to 12 points.

But something about these explanations did not make sense, and they have made even less sense over time. When the Georgia secretary of state's office published its demographic breakdown of the election earlier this year, it turned out there was no surge of angry white men; in fact, the only subgroup showing even a modest increase in turnout was black women.

There were also big, puzzling swings in partisan loyalties in different parts of the state. In 58 counties, the vote was broadly in line with the primary election. In 27 counties in Republican-dominated north Georgia, however, Max Cleland unaccountably scored 14 percentage points higher than he had in the primaries. And in 74 counties in the Democrat south, Saxby Chambliss garnered a whopping 22 points more for the Republicans than the party as a whole had won less than three months earlier.

Now, weird things like this do occasionally occur in elections, and the figures, on their own, are not proof of anything except statistical anomalies worthy of further study. But in Georgia there was an extra reason to be suspicious. Last November, the state became the first in the country to conduct an election entirely with touchscreen voting machines, after lavishing $54m (Ł33m) on a new system that promised to deliver the securest, most up-to-date, most voter-friendly election in the history of the republic. The machines, however, turned out to be anything but reliable. With academic studies showing the Georgia touchscreens to be poorly programmed, full of security holes and prone to tampering, and with thousands of similar machines from different companies being introduced at high speed across the country, computer voting may, in fact, be US democracy's own 21st-century nightmare.
Roxanne Jekot, who has put much of her professional and personal life on hold to work on the issue full time, puts it even more strongly. "Corporate America is very close to running this country. The only thing that is stopping them from taking total control are the pesky voters. That's why there's such a drive to control the vote. What we're seeing is the corporatisation of the last shred of democracy.

"I feel that unless we stop it here and stop it now," she says, "my kids won't grow up to have a right to vote at all."

Posted by Rob at 12:26 AM

Honors Director Prof. Stephen Darwall posts on his blog theletter to the Daily he wrote in response to my viewpoint where I criticize the Perlman Honors Commons as injust and elitist.

I've already responded to the letter, in which he argues the honors commons is the same as a residential hall library. Here was part of my response: "This seems to obfuscate the situation - the Benzinger doesn't have a huge sign over the door reading "Residential College Library" - it is, in fact, designed for the use of all residents of East Quad, as is appropriate for a residence hall library. Located at the heart of campus, it seems to me the Perlman Commons should be logically open to all students."

Posted by Rob at 12:02 AM

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

A number of student organizations are sponsoring a forum on the Greenbelt proposal and affordable housing in Ann Arbor to be held Thursday, October 30 from 7:30 to 9:30 PM in the Michigan Union ballroom. The event will be moderated by Prof. Matt Lassiter, and the panelists include:

- John Hieftje, Mayor of Ann Arbor
- Roderick Hills, U-M Professor of Law
- Margaret Dewar, U-M Professor of Urban Planning
- Mike Garfield, Ecology Center

I think this even will be a great opportunity to ask Mayor Hieftje some tough questions about why one-story boutiques surrounded by ugly, empty 8-story parking garages is in any way "European," and asking Profs. Hills and Dewar about some things the city could do to increase the amount of housing downtown. One idea is allowing accessory apartments, or "granny flats," in neighborhoods zoned for single family residence. Oh wait, the city council already unanimously rejected those two years ago. The sponsors include Students for PIRGM, Environmental Issues Commission of MSA, College Dems, Planners Network, and the Urban Planning Club.

Posted by Rob at 11:32 PM

My friend Ben gets feisty in a letter to the Ann Arbor city council ...

"Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 01:11:02 -0400
Subject: Proposal re: non-resident emergency billing

Dear Ann Arbor City council,

I am writing because I am concerned about the recent proposal that would charge out of town students for emergency assistance. In my opinion, this is simply ludicrous and is another way that the city tries to extort money from the students. All you see us as is a source of revenue in the form of parking tickets and exorbent rent, and now for emergency services. I pay rent in Ann Arbor, I have lived here for four years. I am as much a resident of this town as someone who has changed their drivers license. My money pays for the businesses in this town to operate as much as yours does. I pay taxes on the
money I make at jobs here.

The council's worries that a student would hesitate to call for help is well founded. We are paying for schooling, rent, food, all without the time for a real job and with parents who don't all live in West Bloomfield. Some of us simply could not afford an emergency call. People should not have to pay for emergency service, especially if they are residents of this town. The safety of anyone in this town should be of more importance to the city council than the increased revenue potential. If this proposal would keep students from calling 911 in an emergency, then it is not worth the money you would make with it. Is the well being of 39,000 humans who reside in this town not important to you? We are not cash machines, we are living, breathing people who need a fire truck for an emergency as much as you do.

Benjamin C. King"

Posted by Rob at 10:45 PM

The Ann Arbor News clearly knows what emotion sells the most newspapers: Fear. In a headline today they arouse uncertainty over the greenbelt proposal, repeating an allegation made by the pro-sprawl lobby, asking "Is the greenbelt plan legal?"

It turns out the plan is legal, as long as the city and the surrounding townships change their laws slightly before next July. This is what I don't understand: why didn't the Ann Arbor News call a lawyer, call a judge, call the police, or call an expert and find out if it actually is legal or not? If they get conflicting replies, the headline might read "Legality of Greenbelt proposal in question." If everyone says there's nothing about the proposal on its face illegal (and I assume there isn't, since I assume ballot measures are vetted by the city's legal staff) then the correct headline would read something like "Developers switch to fear-tactics, lie about legality of proposal." Instead, they choose a screaming headline that gives everyone the vague sense the proposal might be illegal, and wait until deep in the story to make clear it's not.

Also see: "Minority enrollment down in U-M freshman class", and these break-ins, two in majority student neighborhoods:

" 800 block of Tappan Street, 8:32 p.m. Tuesday. No signs of forced entry; two laptop computers valued at $2,400 taken.

3300 block of Tacoma Circle, 12:50 p.m. Tuesday. Entry through garage door; laptop computer and case valued at $1,000 taken.

100 block of North Ingalls Street, 10:46 a.m. Tuesday. Entry through unlocked front door; laptop computer valued at $1,500 and jewelry valued at $500 taken."

Posted by Rob at 2:45 PM

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Seem crowded around here?

Yes, the admissions lawsuits had another effect than establishing a new legal precedent for the use of race in admissions to institutions of higher education: it was great PR for the University. In a press release today, the administration announced they had set two new records: for the first time student enrollment has topped 39,000 students, and received a record number of applications for this year's freshman class: 25,943.

Where are the minority enrollment numbers? Slightly below the glowing prose about how "Our schools and colleges have accomplished this despite the severe budget constraints that we experienced this year. They did this by focusing the budget cuts on less essential services and programs, and by concentrating their resources on their core academic priorities." Which must be code for "digital screens in Haven but no Residence Hall Libraries, and no Woodshop."

Well, it turns out minority enrollment is up ... 0.2 percent. And enrollment of black students is unchanged: "In the total student body, which includes undergraduate, graduate and professional students, underrepresented minorities make up 13.8 percent, up from 13.6 percent last year. By racial group, enrollment percentages are: African American, 8.1 percent (unchanged); Hispanic American, 4.9 percent (up from 4.7 percent); Native American, 0.8 percent (unchanged); Asian American, 13.4 percent (up from 12.9 percent); and white, 66.3 percent (down from 66.7 percent). A smaller percentage of students (6.4 percent) listed other racial categories or did not indicate their race than last year (6.8 percent).

Although there is stable enrollment among underrepresented minorities in both the undergraduate student body and in the total campus enrollment, administrators noted that freshman enrollment among African American, Hispanic American and Native American students declined from 2002 levels. "

Well, I'll give them a few points for honesty, but didn't black students lead three University-wide strike to achieve 10% black enrollment ... in the 1970s? During the Black Action Movement, or BAM 1, "The strike, which lasted eight days, came to an end when negotiations between BAM and the administration resulted in a commitment made by the University to work toward 10 percent black student enrollment by 1973. BAM and the administration also agreed to additional BAM demands, all designed to create a better atmosphere for minority students. (Source) At least we got CAAS and the multicultural lounges out of the deal. Can somebody remind me again why the administration keeps acting so smug about their supreme court victory? Sure, it's a great legal victory, but numerically speaking the University hasn't come very far in thirty years.

Posted by Rob at 11:36 PM

Some 1,800 clerical workers at the University of Minnesota have gone on strike, the first union strike at that university since 1944.

"... "Some University professors and teaching assistants will move classes off campus.

Melissa Williams, a graduate student in American studies, said she will hold her classes off campus Tuesday.

“The fact is, (the University) can’t do anything about it. If they impose any disciplinary action, there’s a good chance we’ll be unionized next year,” Williams said.

More than 150 professors are taking their classes off campus, affecting more than 4,000 students."

> See MN Daily: "Clerical workers go on strike"

Posted by Rob at 11:17 PM

Maybe it's just me, but sometimes this place seems downright surreal. The Ann Arbor city council is considering adopting a new city pet ordinance that would require dog walkers pick up their pets waste, banning keeping reptiles as domestic pets, and prohibiting owners from leaving pets over 24 hours. I'm not sure where the reptile bit is coming from - they seem perfectly acceptable pets to me. Maybe there's something I don't know about your average lizard, or a new development in protestant bourgeois liberalism. In addition, I know many pets can be left for more than a day with no problem - including reptiles, some cats, and fish. Why not define this a bit differently? Apparently the proposed law carries personal meaning for an outgoing city council member:

"Council Member Heidi Herrell agreed to remove that language if it stood in the way of the council approving the ordinance.

"It's mostly common sense and we've written it down," said Herrell, D-3rd Ward, about the revisions, recommended by a task force that she led.

The 38-page, revised ordinance could be passed at the next meeting Nov. 6. That will be Herrell's final meeting. Herrell, who is well known for her animal activism, is stepping down after eight years on the council.
After the meeting, Herrell broke down in tears while discussing the disappointment of not being able to get it passed."

While some of the provisions seem a bit unnecessary, I hope they are able to pass something.

If that's not weird enough, they city is considering allowing the Ann Arbor Fire Department to charge at least $285 an hour to respond to emergency calls made by non-residents. Luckily, our esteemed city council members seem hesitant:

"... Council Member Heidi Herrell, D-3rd Ward, said if a student is paying rent in the city, they shouldn't have to pay for those services. But, she said, students who live in dormitories on campus should be charged because the University of Michigan doesn't pay property taxes to the city.

Council Member Chris Easthope asked about business owners who pay rent in Ann Arbor but live out of town.

Council Member Mike Reid, R-2nd Ward, said the city should check with other college towns to see how they decide residency status for students.

Council Member Kim Groome, D-1st Ward, said that she was concerned students may not call for emergency help if they know they will be charged for it."

Yes folks, they're vaguely concerned. As far as I'm concerned, emergency medical response is a public service, and I don't care where you live, or even whether you are a citizen or not. It's absurd the city council is even entertaining this type of proposal - it's millions of student dollars that keep their beloved downtown vibrant, and if it weren't for us they'd all be bumping into each other out in the strip malls bemoaning what a nice place "downtown" used to be, trying to run a city with half the tax dollars. Maybe you'd like to let them know what you think about being charged for calling 911?

Oh, and the usual attempted break-ins and drunken shenanigans in today's Police Beat as well.

Posted by Rob at 11:01 PM

Here's some recent student ghetto break-ins:

"2800 block of Windwood Drive, 10:10 p.m. Saturday. Entry through sliding glass door; $20 cash and a $300 camcorder taken.

1600 block of Miller Avenue, 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Front door pried open; digital camera, laptop computer, cash, duffle bag, and Discman taken. Total value: $4,080.

500 block of East Ann Street, 9:45 p.m. Saturday. Entry through unlocked door; a backpack and digital camcorder valued at $720 taken.

300 block of Packard Street, 5:19 p.m. Saturday. Entry through unlocked front door; digital camera and University of Michigan hockey tickets taken. Total value: $530.

1000 block of Packard Street, 4 a.m. Saturday. Entry gained to bedroom during party; laptop computer valued at $2,500 taken.

3900 block of Varsity Drive, 10:33 a.m. Saturday. Unlocked glass window opened to gain entry; two computers, a keyboard, two monitors, a fire safe and software taken. Total value: $3,495.

2400 block of Mulberry Court, 4:44 p.m. Monday. Door kicked in; house ransacked, but unknown what was taken."

Posted by Rob at 5:52 PM

Monday, October 20, 2003

A college student has been charged for carrying forbidden weapons and materials onto commercial airliners to show how weak the security measures actually are. The box cutters he had left on a Southwest aircraft were discovered nearly five weeks after they were placed there. I think this backs up my theory that most airline security is an elaborate ruse to make us feel safe. This from Reuters:

"... Investigators say Heatwole put the items on the planes on September 12 and 14 -- over a month before they were found and just days after the two-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks in which hijackers used box cutters as weapons.

On four earlier occasions he also carried weapons onto planes, an official complaint stated, noting that on two of those occasions he left items on the planes which were found while the other two times he took the items away with him.

An affidavit from FBI bomb technician Eric Morefield suggested Heatwole's personal beliefs were behind his actions. Most Quakers are pacifists and some have been known for their acts of civil disobedience.

"(Heatwole)...stated that he was aware that his actions were against the law and that he was aware of the potential consequences for his actions and that his actions were 'an act of civil disobedience with the aim of improving public safety for the air-travelling public,'" Morefield wrote." ...

Posted by Rob at 9:31 PM

As quick note, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center's annual "Speak Out" is tomorrow, at 7 PM in the Michigan Union Ballroom. In SAPAC's words: "Speak-Out is an opportunity for survivors of sexual violence- dating and domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment and stalking- to share their stories in a supportive and safe environment. All are welcome to attend in support of survivors."

Posted by Rob at 9:19 PM

Former Daily editorial page editor and my friend Nick Woomer has become involved in a labor struggle at the University of Minnesota where he is attending law school. AFSCME Local 3800, the union which represents clerical workers at the University, may go on strike tomorrow over unresolved contract issues. The union wants the University to agree to wage increases for seniority, job security provisions, and not to cut their healthcare benefits significantly. In his role helping organize support for the Union, Woomer has penned an op-ed piece for the student newspaper, and even rushed the stage during an administrator's speech to deliver a petition.

For background on the strike:
10.17 Strike policies worry profs, TA's
10.20 Union talks wind down

If the issue sounds strangely familiar, it's because it should: the University of Michigan has been quietly cutting the healthcare benefits of its employees here in Ann Arbor. Read about it more on GEO's website, or this Ann Arbor News Article from September 12th:

"In the first step of what could be a three-fold increase in health care costs in coming years, most University of Michigan employees will have to pay monthly premiums in 2004, according to the school.

As faculty members and staffers have returned to work this school year, the university has been detailing the costs for employee health insurance plans. U-M currently pays the full medical benefits for 70 percent of employees and retirees, including anyone with individual coverage.

More than 28,000 employees and nearly 6,000 retirees get health insurance through the university.

Beginning in January, most will pay 5 percent of medical premium costs, with the university paying the balance. Nationwide, health care costs jumped nearly 14 percent in 2003. And if rates continue to rise as expected, U-M workers could pay up to 15 percent of their premium costs in the next two to three years, the university said. "

Posted by Rob at 9:12 PM

Michigan makes #5 on Mother Jones' "Top Ten Activist Campuses," singling out the efforts of Students Supporting Affirmative Action to mobilize students to go to D.C. for the affirmative action lawsuits, and the city's annual Hash Bash, organized by Students for a Sensible Drug Policy and other area activists. #1? The University of Tehran, for student protests after the Iranian government arrested a dissident professor.

"5. University of Michigan: Since it was Michigan's admissions policy being reviewed by the court, 16 busloads of students convoyed from Ann Arbor to join Black Tuesday. On a higher note, 4,000 Wolverines rallied in April to protest the nation's drug war -- which this year saw John Ashcroft take time off from Al Qaeda to raid Internet bong distributors and head shops in "Operation Pipe Dreams." Many who demonstrated smoked up; thanks to Ann Arbor's progressive pot laws, only one student was arrested for possession."
(Which isn't exactly correct: state law applies on the Diag, so getting caught with marijuana is more than a $5 misdemeanor, the city's 1970s-era ordinance)

And with student government elections coming up, it's time to start thinking about issues. Last spring, I criticized the University Party for their #4 platform item: Putting a Taco Bell on campus. Ironically, the University of Chicago made #7 on Mother Jones' list partly because of activists who recently forced a Taco Bell out of their food court because of that company's abusive labor practices. Last spring, I observed that the University Party's platform was mostly "superficial changes" designed to appeal to "people for whom bad financial aid, abusive landlords, social justice, etc are not priorities." The alternative, the "Students First" party was in general much better, but ran at least one conservative candidate - Dustin Lee in the Law School. (Who lost to the UP candidate David Osei.) Perhaps for our mutual edification I'll conduct a candidate survey on some of the issues for this year's election, coming up in the end of November. (What should be in party platforms? To get an idea, see my "Argument for a Political Student Government")

"7. University of Chicago: Taco Bell is the most popular vendor in the U of C's food court, but campus activists still scored one of the first victories of the national "Boot the Bell" campaign. Because Taco Bell's tomato suppliers are said to exploit migrant farmworkers, Chicago students lobbied the university to sever ties with the chain. On Halloween, 60 students, many dressed as tomatoes, marched on the administration offices. In November, U of C's food-services manager declined to renew the Taco Bell contract."

Posted by Rob at 8:08 PM

A woman was grabbed by two men at the corner of South U and East U early Sunday morning, according to the University Record police beat. DPS is also seeking the anonymous man who thwarted an attack reported October 5. I'm not sure if they're referring to this incident reported September 21st, where another similar thing occurred: a stranger came to assistance of another during an assault. To quote a chapter title from Jane Jacob's book: "On the Uses of Sidewalks: Safety"

Also, today's Ann Arbor News police beat is full of tidbits: a shirtless man was shot by a Taser by the Ann Arbor Police outside Michigan Theater Saturday, a man was attacked with a stool at Pinball Pete's, and a woman apparently jumped to death from a downtown parking garage. The police beat also includes information about another attack from early Sunday morning:

"An Ann Arbor woman said she was walking near the city's downtown early Sunday when a stranger grabbed her, then walked away when she screamed, city police reported.

The 29-year-old woman said she was on the north side of Catherine Street at 12:19 a.m. when she heard someone walking behind her, then a male voice asking if he scared her, reports said. The woman said the man then commented on the cold weather and grabbed her around the neck and stomach, reports said.

The woman said she screamed and he let go, then he said he simply wanted to "ask her something" and walked away, reports said. Officers did not find anyone matching the description in the area.

Posted by Rob at 3:24 PM

The University's investment portfolio returned a 5.4% profit last year, now totaling $3.5 billion according to the University Record. However, the University Investment Pool - composed of "working capital" for different construction projects - increased by 4%, and the shadowy "Veritas" - the University's self-insurance unit incorporated in Vermont - lost 1% of its assets.

Posted by Rob at 3:02 PM

The University has selected an architectural firm for an expansion of the U-M Museum of Art. The $35 million project will renovate the existing museum as well as add an addition nearly doubling its size. The firm said in a released statement that the project "provides the unique opportunity to create a thoughtful and delicate dialogue between historical and contemporary architecture, to forge a singular new identity for the Museum of Art, yet with multiple purposes and perceptions." If you cut through the jargon, they're saying they face a tough task: double the size of a old museum on a cramped site without destroying its unique character. Built in 1910, the art museum's building, Alumni Memorial Hall was constructed originally to commemorate U-M alumni who died during the Civil War.

Posted by Rob at 2:55 PM

The director of the LSA Honors Program, Prof. Stephen Darwall, responds to my viewpoint in a letter to the editor today, arguing that the Perlman Honors Commons is just the same as the RC's Benzinger Library. This seems to obfuscate the situation - the Benzinger doesn't have a huge sign over the door reading "Residential College Library" - it is, in fact, designed for the use of all residents of East Quad, as is appropriate for a residence hall library. Located at the heart of campus, it seems to me the Perlman Commons should be logically open to all students.

And to clarify, in my viewpoint I never claimed the honors program has closed the commons to non-honors students. The program does, however, do many small things to try to ensure only honors students use the lounge: the sign above the door reads "Honors Commons," the door is left slightly ajar, and only honors students are told to study there. What I asked in my viewpoint was that the commons be "formally opened to all students." What might that look like? Perhaps a simple sign taped to the door reading "Perlman Study Lounge. Open to all students for quiet study, M-F 9-5"

Here's the letter:

"To the Daily:

One day before his viewpoint criticizing the Perlman Honors Commons appeared in the Daily (Perlman Honors Commons dishonorable, 10/16/03), Rob Goodspeed defended the Residential College's Benzinger Library against a (rumored) University closing on his weblog (, saying that the library "serves as a resource for the Residential College: RC professors put ... materials on reserve there, and the library has hosted a variety of artistic and educational events in the past." The Benzinger Library is a resource for the RC in precisely the same sense that the Perlman Honors Commons is a resource for the Honors Program. Each exists primarily to support the activities of its respective program. The Honors Commons' function is to provide a site for honors seminars in its internal classroom, for intellectual events such as the Fresh Ideas symposium I host biweekly, for events planned by the Honors Student Steering Committee, for meetings between honors faculty and students, for student meetings, for student (and faculty) study, and for informal conversation. As for access, Goodspeed is simply mistaken when he says that access is restricted to honors students. Although the primary function of the commons is to support Honors Program activities, we have not found it necessary to restrict access to serve that function. Of course, unlike the Benzinger Library we have a central location, so we can't guarantee that that will always be so. Finally, I would like to clarify a misunderstanding about our admissions process. It is true that this year we will be able to make use of the University's new application materials (with new essay questions and teacher recommendations) to get a better sense of our applicants, including their intellectual seriousness and curiosity, but it is just not true that before the program relied entirely on grades and test scores. The program also took account of other factors, including, like University admissions, race, in order to build a more diverse class. We are in complete agreement with Goodspeed about the importance of that goal.

Stephen Darwall

Director, LSA Honors Program"

Posted by Rob at 5:30 AM

Sunday, October 19, 2003

I've received a number of positive response to my viewpoint about the Perlman Honors Commons, with the exception of one email. I was surprised by this email I received from someone I don't know:

"Just wanted to say "thanks" for writing your viewpoint, "Pearlman Honors Commons Dishonorable" in Thursday's Daily. Up until today I was an honors student (I voluntarily withdrew myself from the program for a host of non-academic reasons), and I couldn't agree more with everything that you wrote. Thanks for speaking up on behalf of numerous honors students, including myself."

Posted by Rob at 4:10 PM

Tell the DDA: There are too many parking structures downtown!

"DDA asks for input on parking issues

The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority will offer coffee and danish at the Fourth and Washington parking structure from 7 to 10 a.m. and 3:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday. As a Customer Appreciation Day, it's a chance for area residents to let the DDA know their thoughts about the DDA and downtown parking."

I find it odd that parking garages are deemed sacred when it comes to height - many in the downtown area top 7 or 8 stories, a height that would make local politicians sputter on about how it's changing the "European feel" of our lovely city if they were buildings, not ugly slabs of stacked cement. I guess there's nothing more European than a parking garage that goes over a street! I suppose parking garages are nonthreatening to the suburban mentality, which can't conceive of a city built on the premise that at least some people wouldn't need or desire a car. At the very least, it means free coffee and danish, but if you've ever paid to park in Ann Arbor - whether in a garage or at a meter on the street - you've paid for it: your money went to the Downtown Development Authority.

Posted by Rob at 3:19 PM

It appears that the city council is poised to exercise their "right of first refusal" and buy the YMCA building on William for $3.5. (Here's a letter to the editor I co-wrote to the AANews on the issue) However, I don't understand the secrecy involved - the city debated the issue in a closed session. Although things certainly may change, I'd like to see the city acting to involve more people to determine the future of this unique downtown property.

"Hieftje also said he'd like to see the city and Downtown Development Authority work together to determine what goes on the property. Hieftje said the city intends to keep the 100 units of affordable housing downtown.

He said the site could also hold a new AATA bus terminal but the city wanted to review all its options. The mayor said he didn't see any options for paying for the Y building that included the use of the city's general fund reserve. Instead, Hieftje said the city could find federal dollars or a DDA partnership."

> From AANews: "City plans to buy the Y building"

Posted by Rob at 3:16 PM

Yes folks, it's a bourgeois contradiction: the rich Ann Arbor homeowners slugging it out with rich Ann Arbor developers over the mayor's "Greenbelt" iniative, a modest and much-needed proposal not without some drawbacks. Meanwhile, the residents of the low-income housing units at the Y, the people who live in Ypsilanti and are forced to ride the bus downtown to work, and, to a certain extent, even the student population is left out of the discussion. I guess regional transportation and growth policies don't affect any of them!

The Ann Arbor News' coverage of what at least some people think about the mayor's greenbelt proposal has been prolific in the past week, perhaps even obsessive. The News has dedicated a special section of their website to stories about the proposal, including some interesting maps of the potentially affected area.

In an attempt to be at least somewhat comprehensive, here's a quick rundown of Ann Arbor news stories that have been printed since I last updated this website:

10.16 "Greenbelt details"
10.16 "Greenbelt faceoff; debate draws large crowd"

"This is a modest program," [Mayor Hieftje] said. "It is a tool ... to redirect development." ... Ann Arbor resident Scott Wojack, 34, said he opposed the proposal going into the debate and heard nothing to change his mind. Wojack said there are better ways to combat urban sprawl - better zoning restrictions and more development downtown, and that the quality of life argument defies logic.

(Too bad Wojack, a Republican who has run unsucessfully for a seat in the Michigan house, doesn't seem to understand the nature of regional planning: the major is proposing a Greenbelt specifically because the city doesn't have the power to zone land outside the city limits. Of course, one solution is to make it easier for cities to annex surrounding towns when they reach a specific density, but something tells me the Grosse Pointes wouldn't be too happy about that.)

10.17 "Greenbelt foes make anonymous calls"

" The message starts, "Hi. I'm calling about the city's $100 million tax proposal on the November ballot." The voice then states the proposal was "rushed to the ballot by the city without a single public hearing or testimony."

It then says there are several unanswered questions and asks that the resident vote it down.

"Whether it is legal or not is not the point," said Mike Garfield, co-chairman of Friends of Ann Arbor Open Space, an organization in favor of the greenbelt millage. "They point is, they are afraid to say who they are. I think they don't want Ann Arbor voters to know that the primary opponent to the parks and greenbelt millage are big out-of-town developers and their primary funding for this campaign is coming from outside of Ann Arbor."

10.18 "Algea blooms into role as sprawl debate point"
10.18 "Unanswered questions" (About greenbelt proposal)
10.18 "Battle flares over details of greenbelt"
10.19 "Learn more about the greenbelt" (Details of three forums, located at three locations you have to drive to from "Downtown": Weber's Inn, EMU, and WCC)
10.19 "Townships have stake"

Posted by Rob at 2:55 PM

Thursday, October 16, 2003

'Keys to the Kingdom'?

In an email which made its way into my mailbox recently via prolific forwarding, another little mystery of Ann Arbor has been resolved. Yes folks, the secret recipe of Michigan restaurateur Pizza House's Chipati Sauce. I've found that the Chipati, a glorified salad-in-a-pita served with a mysterious red sauce, has many fans although some are in the closet about it. According to the following email, the mysterious sauce (available to take home for $3.99 a bottle!) is nothing less than Franks Redhot Sauce and ranch dressing. And while I haven't tried it out for myself, the mixture sounds just plausible enough to be true!

"From: XXX
Subject: keys to the kingdom
Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2003

i can't believe it's taken me so long to get this out: quick story that you will all love me for. (jamie, i think i told you this?)

in A2 recently. we go to Pizza house. stupid waiter. i ask to buy a bottle of chipati sauce, and ask if it will stay good if sealed for a while. he says the following: "i don't see why it would. it's only...wait, i don't know if i should tell yuou this" and clare and i went silent, held our breath, tried to look nonchalant. and then this dumb young thang gave us the keys to the kingdom, aka, the recipe.
"it's only frank's red hot mixed with ranch dressing."

use it well, my friends, and pass it on. ... "

Posted by Rob at 3:58 PM

I've neglected to link to the website of "Friends of Ann Arbor Open Space," a group supporting the greenbelt proposal.

Posted by Rob at 3:37 PM

Well, the Daily has shown exactly what an interesting institution it is, publishing today a viewpoint I've penned about why I think the Perlman Honors Commons should be formally opened to all students. I have to say that my pessimism about the paper has waned slightly; they've posted their bylaws, and proven themselves more mature than a lifetime ban of myself. (Although somehow failing to write anything about their former writer David Enders' recent visit back from Iraq) Both good first steps, however small. Maybe next week they'll co-sponsor a panel discussion on the coverage of campus crime with the Black Student Union. As a former crime beat reporter, I'd be more than happy to participate.

Anyway, what about this honors lounge anyway?

"Elitism is an interesting idea to be concerned with at the University. After all, the competitive admissions process combined with high tuition inherently create an elite institution. What matters, of course, is exactly how that elite is chosen. This is in part what the admissions lawsuits have been about: which criteria can and should be weighed so that the University can achieve en elite with justice. There exists across campus a variety of resources for students who seek them out - from offices geared toward specific communities to programs like the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. These are entirely appropriate, and in fact, needed. However, if a program supported by the University's general funds overtly excludes students from their resources, we must examine their selection criteria closely.

Few lounges, offices or classrooms on campus are overtly advertised exclusively for the use of only some students. Certainly very few are situated in a highly visible location at the center of campus, passed by thousands of students every day. In fact, I can only think of one like that: the Perlman Honors Commons.


Under these admissions criteria, which admitted this years' honors freshmen, the honors lounge institutionalizes these biases and privileges and tells the student body: Only some have the right to be here, and other's don't. Never mind the criteria are little more than a proxy for wealth, only loosely related to intellectual curiosity or intelligence. Never mind that honors is partly self-selecting: Many people have other interests or jobs or families that keep them from having the liberty or desire to write a thesis or take more rigorous classes. Never mind that all students are at least initially charged the same tuition, live in the same city, take almost all of the same classes. If honors had its way, the commons would be for honors students only. Period.

In four years, after the composition of the honors program has (hopefully) changed to reflect a more comprehensive admissions process, the honors lounge would still be wrong. Having an office is one thing, deliberately closing a large space at the center of campus to the majority of students, perhaps because they don't have the time, money or interest to participate in honors is unacceptable. To the extent the honors program reflects the pragmatic observation that there are students who would like to experience a more demanding undergraduate experience and actively seeks and admits students on the basis of their intellectual seriousness and curiosity, I believe it is an acceptable institution. It's unacceptable, however, if it means opportunities and spaces automatically closed to the general student body. This is why you'll never see me studying in the Perlman Honors Commons until the day it is formally opened to all students. I encourage my fellow honors students to join me."

And to nip this one at the bud: every student is welcome in the Residence Hall's "Multicultural" lounges. Hence the "multi" part.

Posted by Rob at 1:44 AM

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I was recently reminded about something I have been meaning to post. I heard from a source at the Residential College at the beginning of the month that there was some discussion at a meeting about closing the only two remaining Residence Hall Libraries: the Bursley Library, and the East Quad's Benzinger Library. As a quick refresher, you might remember I wrote about this in July, after being contacted by a friend and former residence hall librarian who had discovered she had been abruptly fired because the administration was switching to another "service model." Sometimes I wonder where such corporate lingo comes from when it is used by administrators: they are running a public educational institution, not maximizing profits for their stock holders!

My friend in the RC was particularly concerned about the potential closing of the Benzinger Library because fulfils a unique role in East Quad. It not only serves like the old Residence Hall Libraries and offers books, CD's, magazines, and movies that residents can check out, but it also serves as a resource for the Residential College: RC professors put court materials on reserve there, and the library has hosted a variety of artistic and educational events in the past. If it is closed outright, all of these functions would be eradicated, and if it is "transformed" into another "service model," as far as I can tell it would not have material to check out, and perhaps only function as a study lounge.

The closing of the Bursley Library would also be troubling because of that residence hall's distance from the Media Union - the small library provides a convenient space for students to study, meet, or relax, without forcing them to hike down the hill on a suburban campus designed for the convenience of cars, not pedestrians. When I lived in Bursley in 2000-2001 I found the library a nice, very quiet space to study for exams, especially since many of the hall lounges had been closed, or are used by groups as meeting spaces.

University administrators must not forget in their drive to streamline their operation that destroying small things like hall lounges and residence hall libraries do impact the quality of life of students, making their lives a little less pleasant. While sacrificing all for efficiency may make sense in the business world, the University has in several recent cuts (Such as the Woodshop, (read the Daily article) shown little sensitivity to student's desires and needs, and made changes whose costs I believe outweigh any small budget gains.

To further cast a shadow over the University's motives, last year the Residence Hall Head Librarians voted to join GEO, arguing that they were paid less than other graduate student employees for the 30 hours per week they worked in addition to being full time students. They even went so far as to scheduling a strike last spring during the negotiation process. Firing them all was certainly an efficient way to end the negotiation, but more reminiscent a stridently anti-union corporation and not the University of Michigan, who recently formed a committee to formulate an ethics policy to apply in their purchasing contracts, part of which requires contractors respect worker's rights to organize!

> See Daily: "Res Hall libraries end loans of movies, CDs, magazines"
> Daily, March 2003: "Librarians halt picket to further negotiations"
> Daily, Dec. 2002: "Head Librarians join GEO to raise bargaining power"

Posted by Rob at 3:12 PM

A Kinder, Gentler Police State

Well, the police say everything is O.K., that's certainly worth putting in a headline! Although "Despite tensions, police praise student relations" contains plenty of warm-and-fuzzy quotes, it does include something a bit more newsworthy than Sargent Hicks' failed olympic career:

"... An LSA junior said two police officers outside of Scorekeepers treated her roughly on Oct. 2 after she presented an ID that was expired. The student asked to remain anonymous because she may be taking legal action. She said one police officer grabbed her from behind and said, "I don't have time for this shit."

She said the officers were swearing as they handcuffed her and walked her to their car. She confronted the officer, who became more respectful, but his partner took her purse and started going through it.

She said the officers refused to loosen the handcuffs after she said they were too tight. The officers released her and gave her a ticket for expired identification. She was not sure whether they were DPS or AAPD officers. DPS generally does not patrol Ann Arbor city streets such as Maynard Street, which is where Scorekeepers is located."

Ok, so SST gave me the headline idea ...

Posted by Rob at 9:58 AM

Ari Paul ratchets it up a notch, if such a thing were possible, in his column "U.S.A. uber allies," in which he draws connections between the American right and the Nazi ideology of National Socialism. In it he skewers George W. Bush's grandfather's well documented connections to the Nazi government, and comments on the more totalitarian implications of the protestant work ethic:

"... Grand-papa Bush, Prescott's, and papa Bush, George Herbert Walker's, Union Banking Corp. was guilty of trading with Nazi Germany in 1942, and took some hard hits from the Federal Government for its treason. But it came out on top eventually. Years later, the Bushes would secure a fortune through financial ties to many Nazi institutions, like IG Farben, who supplied the regime with death gas.
Fordian capitalism fused with America's Protestant work ethic has created a culture that forces us to put our work before everything else, and we are taught that nothing but a devotion to hard labor and seeking its rewards is what separates the happy from the miserable, the winners from the losers. It sounds almost too much like the proverb, "Work shall make you free," which was inscribed on the gates of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz. ..."

Although I think the whole effort could been made better from quoting the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Korematsu v. United States upholding the U.S. government's detention of 400,000 innocent Japanese Americans in detention facilities. Yes, in American jurisprudence you can be punished for not showing up at a "relocation center." I'm sure these words would ring ominous to Paul:

" ... It is said that we are dealing here with the case of imprisonment of a citizen in a concentration camp solely because of his ancestry, without evidence or inquiry concerning his loyalty and good disposition towards the United States. Our task would be simple, our duty clear, were this a case involving the imprisonment of a loyal citizen in a concentration camp because of racial prejudice. Regardless of the true nature of the assembly and relocation centers -- and we deem it unjustifiable to call them concentration camps with all the ugly connotations that term implies -- we are dealing specifically with nothing but an exclusion order. To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue. Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and finally, because Congress, reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military leaders -- as inevitably it must -- determined that they should have the power to do just this. There was evidence of disloyalty on the part of some, the military authorities considered that the need for action was great, and time was short. We cannot -- by availing ourselves of the calm perspective of hindsight -- now say that at that time these actions were unjustified. ... "

Sounds familiar: hundreds of arab men from a select list of countries have been rounded up, detained, and expelled, in the name of 'national security,' and the authorities deny it's racial or ethnic discrimination. I suppose it doesn't matter to them the 9/11 attackers did their plotting in Germany, the shoe bomber was a British citizen, or the fact that Bin Lauden's cohorts include a number of American citizens, including John Walker Lindh.

Posted by Rob at 9:27 AM

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

"The Weather Underground," a documentary about a group of radical students from Ann Arbor affiliated with Students for a Democratic Society is showing at the Michigan Theater for two more days: Wednesday and Thursday, at 7:15 and 9:30 each day.

Posted by Rob at 2:57 PM

An ambitious freshman, engineering student Daniel Feldman, has started a for-profit advertising website for organizations seeking to advertise their events to students. He calls his website,, the "world's first online sidewalk." I wonder if his claim the website receives "thousands" of visits a day is a bit of a stretch, and I also wonder if an events calendar will keep those "thousands" coming back!

NOTE: The University provides a free online events calendar called UM*Events

Posted by Rob at 2:12 PM

$400,000 for Sprawl?
A Call to Action: Urbanism Needs Your Help

Yes, the mayor might be a little confused about the greenbelt issue, but I think it's a good idea, and after the vote passes, we can focus on convincing city officials to approve development downtown. (God forbid Ann Arbor become as urbane and pleasant as cities with strong growth policies like Portland, Oregon - we'd lose out on all that "European" character the Ann Arbor News keeps talking about!) More to the point, Mayor Heifje will be debating the pro-sprawl agitators tomorrow, at 5 PM in the Michigan Theatre. This from Crain's Detroit Business:

"Home-builders hire firm to help fight greenbelt plan

Lansing lobbying firm Marketing Resource Group Inc. has been hired by home-builders in Washtenaw County to help defeat Ann Arbor's Nov. 4 ballot proposal to use tax dollars to buy development rights on vacant property in the surrounding townships.

The Home Builders Association of Washtenaw County plans to spend about $400,000 to defeat the greenbelt initiative, a source said. The group has raised between $150,000 and $300,000 so far, said Jeff Fisher, public-affairs director for the group. He declined to give a target fund-raising figure.

Local builders are expected to kick in about $100,000 and the Washtenaw Home Builders Association about $100,000, with the rest coming from the Michigan Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Home Builders, sources said.

On Wednesday, the sides will debate the issue beginning at 5 p.m. at the Michigan Theater, said Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje. Hieftje announced the plan to buy development rights and land in the surrounding townships to preserve green space in August, and the majority of local home-builders are vehemently opposed.

Friends of Ann Arbor Open Space have raised about $100,000 to help pass the ballot issue, but hope to collect more, said Chairman Mike Garfield."

This blurb about the debate from the Ann Arbor News:

"Greenbelt debate at Michigan Theater

If you want to know about the proposed parks and greenbelt around Ann Arbor - and the millage that would fund it - Wednesday afternoon provides a good opportunity.

The proposal's chief proponent, Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje, challenged the Home Builders Association of Washtenaw County to a public debate about the program.

The forum is set for 5 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.

Two representatives from the Home Builders Association and two from Hieftje's office and the Friends of Ann Arbor Open Space will have time for opening comments, and then each will have an opportunity for rebuttal, said Home Builders Association spokesman Jeff Fisher.

After the debate the public may pose questions, but audience participation is limited strictly to questions for either or both sides, not comments or political statements.

At issue is a 30-year, half-mill property tax that would replace an existing parks acquisition levy set to expire next year. It's expected to generate $84 million for the greenbelt program. The owner of a $250,000 home would pay about $50 in greenbelt taxes a year.

Voters will decide on the parks and greenbelt millage on Nov. 4."

Posted by Rob at 12:20 PM

Editorializing in the Headline? Not above the Ann Arbor News! Last time I checked, "clogged" was something of a subjective observation. Luckily they find some sober-minded people to interview in today's story "U-M's building boom starts to clog skyline".

[...] "In 2000, developer Howard Frehsee proposed a one-story development on the site of the former Olga's restaurant on the west edge of campus along State Street. The Ann Arbor City Council rejected the project, saying it wasn't tall enough to make efficient use of limited downtown land. Frehsee came back with an eight-story proposal - the Corner House Lofts - which the Planning Commission rejected but the council approved, with misgivings about the height.

Kelbaugh believes the new building is two or three stories higher than it should be relative to the neighborhood, but he said the building has been properly designed as a background, residential building.

"They were right not to let a one-story building go there," he said. "One (story) is not the tone to set because it's just too suburban and irresponsible. If we're going to stop sprawling, we've got to start developing and redeveloping urban land. That's a very high priority for Ann Arbor, for Michigan, and for the country." [...]

And this break-in: "500 block of Walnut Street, 2 a.m. Monday. Entry through unlocked front door; a watch, backpack and stereo taken."

Posted by Rob at 12:08 PM

I've been asked to remind everyone Detroit historian Thomas Sugrue will be speaking this Thursday at 4 P.M. in Angell Hall Auditorium B!

Posted by Rob at 11:40 AM

Proud to be a Wolverine? This talk sounds interesting:

"Charlene Teters, from the documentary "In Whose Honor?", will be speaking on Friday October 17th, at 7:30 in the Wolverine room in the Michigan Union.

Charlene Teters (Spokane), provoked by racial and social injustices endured by American Indians, has served as a lightning rod for change. Her work has led to progress in the United States and Canada. In Central America her words and thoughts are being repeated by Indian peoples involved in their own struggles for human rights.

Charlene Teters is a founding Board Member of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and the Media, an artist, activist, and lecturer. She challenges the inappropriate use of American Indian images, culture and spiritual life ways by schools, scholars, museums, corporations, and media. In 1988 she and her artwork became politicized at The University of Illinois, a school that uses as their mascot the image of a fantasy "Chief." The history of Charlene's work is the subject of a nationally aired award winning documentary "In Whose Honor?" by Jay Rosenstein. She continues to expose deeply ingrained perceptions, stereotypes and racism aimed at American Indians through her multimedia art installations, writings and lectures.

Sponsored by the Native American Student Association, Native American Studies, The Exhibit museum of natural history, and the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs."

> Read up on Michigamua here, and check out these scans from the archive, and why this matters.

Here's what I want to know: why did the Facilities Director of the Michigan Union Audrey Schwimmer join Michigamua - in 2000?

Posted by Rob at 11:37 AM

Links have been tweaked. Thoughts?

Posted by Rob at 11:25 AM

Monday, October 13, 2003

Zoning an Empire

As any good historian knows, the Romans were quite the city planners - with walls, markets, aqueducts, sewers, public baths and municipal buildings integrated into a planned scheme, a well-planned Roman city was a marvel of civic engineering. Nevertheless, I was struck by this passage I read recently in a history of the founding of Constantinople by emperor Constantine. Mind you, by this point the old Roman Empire was in quick decline, Rome itself was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 AD.:

"But as early as the second half of the fourth century, numerous estates of great gentlemen spread in the suburbs outside Constantine's Wall, presumably interspersed with middle-class housing, and by 412 these suburbs had become so heavily populated as to require the construction, ca. 1.5 kilometers further west, of the new Theodosian Wall. The inner city, covering the surface of the Greek, Roman, and Constantinian town, was so overbuilt as to need zoning regulations by 450, forbidding housing more than ten stories high. Under Constantine that day was still far off."
(From "Three Christian Capitals: Topography and Politics" by Richard Krautheimer)

What I found surprising was the height of the restriction - I didn't know buildings of wood and stone commonly went that high in the ancient world, even if their "story" was shorter than ours. It's also ironic that it's about equal the height limit currently in effect for Ann Arbor 1,600 years later - the initial proposal by the developer for the "Corner House Lofts" at State and Washington was only 10 or 12 stories - versus the approved 8 stories.

Constantine, however would have been motivated by both hygienic and aesthetic reasons – he wouldn't want the housing to overburden the sewer or water system, or overshadow his newly constructed civic monuments: the hippodrome, his palace, and the first incantation of Hagia Sophia. Indeed, in later years disease would hit the Byzantine Empire hard, along with the rest of Europe. I wonder if they capped building size at only a few stories because they were worried about losing the quaint "character" of their streets they visited when they got tired of visiting the restaurants out in the suburbs, although thinking nothing of building scores of 7 and 8 story chariot parking structures. Probably not - the Romans were too logical for such ridiculous inconsistencies.

Posted by Rob at 11:52 PM

Airbeagle has posted the longest, most detailed account of Michael Moore's visit to Ann Arbor yesterday I have found online. Complete with pictures!

On a U-M political science student's failure to name the prime minister of Canada:
"The crowd, especially our visiting neighbors, roared with laughter (and, in the case of the Canadians, anger?) Quite frankly, I was disgusted. Here's a kid of wealth and privilege, attending a premiere university AND he's a poli-sci major and he doesn't know the prime minister of Canada?! Good lord, what's he studying? And has he never read a newspaper, especially in the last year? Honestly.

Ok, I didn't think I knew the prime minister of Canada, but I don't think I would have gave the answer he did: Tony Blair. Doh. Continuing:

"The Ann Arbor News had a snarky little write-up on the event, as Frank mentioned and to which I linked above. As I was perusing the online edition of the paper on, surely just about the worst newspaper website ever created, I ran across a 'Town Talk on Ann Arbor' forum. ... "

From which point he digresses into how ridiculous the Ann Arbor TownTalk forum is, something every web-oriented newcomer to the city has to discover at some point, I suppose.

Posted by Rob at 11:32 PM

The Ann Arbor News' coverage of the Michael Moore event is what we've come to expect - much better written than the Daily, but with the condescending view of some of their readership: the petty landed gentry that owns all the $1+ million houses in Ann Arbor and the buyers of homes in suburban subdivisions advertised to start "in the 300's." Example: should we mention Moore's allegations the Bush administration has dubious ties to the Taliban and the Saudi royal family? No. Should the only U-M student we interview be skeptical of Moore, even though almost everybody who attended was a fan? Yes. Gotta love 'objectivity.'

"What should we do?" a young man hollered to the guest speaker at the University of Michigan's Power Center on Sunday night.

"Everything," Michael Moore answered.

The social activist and Flint native, best known for his books and film documentaries addressing political and social issues, took the stage to a standing ovation from the 1,300 students and community members in the audience.
Standing in Power Center's lobby, near a table where Moore's new book and DVDs of "Bowling for Columbine" and "Roger and Me" were being sold, U-M student Lola Ladeinde said she enjoyed the event but didn't fully agree with some of Moore's opinions.

"These kinds of things are always kind of bittersweet," the 22-year-old economics major said. "I thought it was really a good way to get people excited about the 2004 election."

> AANews: "Michael Moore has tall order: Do everything"

Posted by Rob at 9:14 PM

Lest we forget:
> 380 U.S. and British soldiers have died in the U.S.-led war/occupation of Iraq
> At least 7,000 Iraqi civilians killed, with two or three times that in casualties
> 97 U.S. Soldiers have died since Bush declared the "end" of major combat
> 115 U.S. Troops died in accidents, including 59 since May 1
> 'Thousands' of U.S. soldiers have been wounded, many losing limbs

Posted by Rob at 8:30 PM

"Progress has been steady" writes U-M spokeswoman Julie Peterson in a "news" piece in today's University Record on negotiations between the University and representatives of the Lecturers' Employee Organization, a newly-formed union of over 1,500 lecturers across the three U-M campuses. However, Peterson notes, "Compensation issues have not been discussed yet."

According to a report posted on the LEO website, the union seems satisfied with the process as well: "The atmosphere at both bargaining sessions was friendly and cordial. The impression of the LEO bargaining team is that the Employer sincerely desires to work with us to negotiate a contract that is good for both parties." I suppose the University's happy they're not asking for the increased pay and job security of being an actual tenured professor! This is the 21st century after all - most of the Regents are millionaires, roughly 50 University employees earn over $250,000 a year, and some of my favorite teachers don't know if they'll have a job in 6 months:

"Job security and low pay are the major concerns of the faculty, who teach nearly half the total undergraduate credit hours at the university, but are often hired on a semester-by-semester basis for a fraction of the salary and benefits of their tenured and tenure-track colleagues. "Many of us worry every year about getting reappointed," says Margaretha Sudarsih, who teaches at the Ann Arbor campus." (From this press release)

In case you missed it, here's the LEO press release about the successful vote last spring.

Posted by Rob at 12:56 PM

I just came across this website about the history of the Graduate Library called the "Hatcher Showcase" featuring this tidbit of information:

"Reference room murals "The Arts of Peace" (west wall) and "The Arts of War" (east wall), by Gari Melchers, were originally painted for the Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building at the Chicago World's Fair in 1892-93. In 1895, UM President Angell requested that the paintings be given to the University of Michigan. They were received in 1895 and were hung in University Hall in 1896. In 1918, when plans for a new library building were underway, it was decided that the murals would hang in the main reading room. The reference room, 50 feet high at the center of the barrel vaulted ceiling, was specially designed to accommodate the murals."

The University Planner's office also maintains a nice website on "outdoor Campus sculptures, artifacts and memorials," if you really want to know the story on that object you walk by to class every day.

Posted by Rob at 11:02 AM

In an article halfway between a trite book report and a poor news story, the Daily posted an online update covering the Michael Moore talk yesterday. Written by an arts writer.

"... Above all else, Moore seemed to emphasize what he considered to be the real problems in the United States. Among others, he noted the welfare system, insurance policies, medical care and the need for a basic sympathetic attitude towards every man as key issues that set America apart as a violent society. .... "

Although the author does work in this quote: "(Bush is) just taking a shit on his own, and that's not what you want to do when you're trying to get elected for the first time." And this might be a good time to mention his "Wacko Attacko" page to YAF, and everybody else who thinks he "lies".

Posted by Rob at 10:45 AM

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Chetly Zarko discusses the U-M Department of Public Safety's use of the trespass law to keep campus squeaky-clean of any undesirable on his new blog:

"The Czar's Court has increasingly come to hear several stories relating to the DPS use of trespassing laws to intimidate disliked individuals, political opponents, and even to keep the look of the campus "clean" by discouraging homeless individuals from moving around on campus. At two of the last four Regents public comments sessions, a local advocate of homeless rights has expressed his own concerns on this issue (citing DPS treatment of him personally, while in public places at the U-M). This gentleman felt that DPS discriminated against him because of his age and very casual dress style. Several years ago, a local black activist who had claimed the University had defrauded the federal government in commerce-related research, was prosecuted for trespass. Just recently, a university employee fired for alleged personal misconduct (but who had years ago raised similar fraud questions), was read the University "trespass card" by a DPS officer at his/her home off-campus after s/he had left several messages on his/her former bosses' answering machines. This latter case is particularly distressing if true, as it represents DPS movement out-of-jurisdiction and DPS didn't file harassment charges based on the taped answering machine messages. If the former employee were truly "harassing University employees, the University had the right and power to get a court restraining order and to prosecute based upon phone harassment law. But now, using this mechanism, without due process and based upon the whims and personal feelings of mid-level University employees, this Ann Arbor citizen will be arrested on sight if appearing anywhere on campus (including a football game). ... "

This is certainly something worth investigating further, especially since it my experience it seems to be applied so unevenly: "homeless" people are allowed near State and North U., but evidently kicked off if they are somewhere more visible. Although I'm not certain about the history, I believe this power of the University is given by state law, although a quick search of the Michigan Compiled Laws came up with nothing specific to the University, although here's the general trespassing law.

Posted by Rob at 2:02 AM

Ok, I can understand a 4-year vision, or perhaps even 50. But 100? Here's part of General Clark's 100-year vision, somewhat vague, but necessarily so, I think:

"... Institutionally, our Constitution remains the wellspring of American freedom and prosperity. We must retain a pluralistic democracy, with institutional checks and balances that reflect the will of the majority while safeguarding the rights of the minority. We will seek to maximize the opportunities for private gain, consistent with concern for the public good. And the Clark administration will institute a culture of transparency and accountability, in which we set the world standard for good government. As new areas of concern arise - in the areas of intellectual property, bioethics, and other civil areas - we will assure continued access to the courts, as well as to the other branches of government ... "

Wait a minute, did he just say "civil"? I suppose you can take the general out of the military, but you can't take the military out of the general. Meanwhile, Bush has launched a blog recently as part of an aggressive online strategy. However, unlike Dean, his blog has no "comments" feature. Perhaps they don't really care what we think?

Posted by Rob at 1:30 AM

CMF points out that not all developers think "Greenbelt" proposals are such a bad idea. Meanwhile, the Washtenaw Homebuilders' Association has pledged to fight the mayor's proposal. The Huron Land Use Alliance website has more information, or read this Ann Arbor News article on Michigan IMC.

Posted by Rob at 12:37 AM

Saturday, October 11, 2003

This interesting New York Times article "Staying in the Family Home May Mean Taking Others In" mentions the Ann Arbor city council vote two years ago against allowing homeowners to construct "granny flats" in basements, attics, or additions to their houses. The story is about a proposal to legalize these apartments in San Francisco:

" [...] Many other cities have already loosened restrictions that prohibit the apartments. Some 65,000 to 300,000 granny flats are springing up in cities and suburbs every year, with or without local sanction, according to a study sponsored by AARP. Self-contained, with private entrances, kitchens and baths, they can be built into a garage or tucked into a basement, or they can stand as a cottage in the backyard.

Proponents argue that granny flats are relatively inexpensive solutions for homeowners who need help with their mortgages, while offering affordable housing to people desperate for it. They can also provide housing for aging relatives who want to retain their independence while living close to a family member.

But opponents see such add-on apartments as an assault on neighborhoods designed around the "Leave It to Beaver" ideal.

"In some ways we're dealing with the sacred character of the single-family house," said Robert Fishman, a professor of architecture and urban planning at the University of Michigan.

In San Francisco, where officials estimate that about 20,000 illegal apartments are harbored within houses, a rapid acceleration in prices has made houses with rental apartments more attractive.
It is a debate heating up across the country. In Ann Arbor, Mich., neighbors killed a proposal last year to simplify the permit process for new granny flats.
"We didn't move to the suburbs so we could live in the city," said Suzi Cassone, 63, a library clerk. Ms. Cassone said that an illegal apartment in her neighbor's house had created noise problems and more competition for parking.

Homeowners also fear that by adding rental units, neighbors will bring in students, young professionals on the move or others who will be less invested in the community than the typical homeowner.

"I think there is also an undercurrent of fear that these units will attract people who are undesirable for the community," said Aaron Peskin, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who proposed the law that would legalize new granny flats.

Granny flats were once an American tradition. In some urban neighborhoods of the late 19th and early 20th century, architects included two or three units in town houses to accommodate extended families. Wealthy families in rural communities built separate apartments in their homes or backyard carriage houses for their help.

But by the 1950's, the prevailing ideal in many suburbs was not mixed housing but the single-family home. Most communities created zoning barriers to added apartments or outlawed them altogether. [...] "

However, I think the story unfairly implies U-M Prof. Robert Fishman is an "opponent," however he's a member of the Congress of New Urbanism, a strong advocate of allowing apartments in houses. I think these make good sense if properly planned: they increase the amount and variety of housing available, and give homeowners a small but significant source of income.

To read more about the granny flat issue here in Ann Arbor, check out this blog post from August, or read the story I wrote about it for the Daily. A note - although the Ann Arbor city council ultimately nixed the proposall unanimously after some fear-mongering by a neighborhood association sent a deluge of letters to the members, not every part of city government was swayed: it had been approved by the city's planning commission.

Posted by Rob at 11:27 PM

Student Ghetto Break-ins are light this week ...

"800 block of East University Avenue, 11:38 p.m. Thursday. Entry gained through bedroom window; a laptop computer valued at $2,000 taken.

500 block of Walnut Street, 4 p.m. Thursday. Entry gained through unlocked door; a bicycle, portable CD player and Nintendo Game Cube taken. Total value: $290"

Posted by Rob at 1:25 PM

Ann Arbor has gained another blogger, at least until May 2005, the authors claim. Yes authors: "" is run by "AirBeagle" and "Brandhast," or Steve and Frank. The name? Taken ironically. We like that.

Meanwhile, the authors are discovering some of the many joys of Ann Arbor, including ladybugs, underreported crime, North Campus, chalkings, and at least three posts about Cafe Ambrosia. Welcome to Ann Arbor.

Posted by Rob at 1:01 PM

Friday, October 10, 2003

Here's the results of a recent statewide poll of likely Democratic primary voters:

Dean: 21%
Clark: 15%
Gephardt: 13%
Kerry: 13%
Lieberman: 12%
Sharpton: 4%
Braun: 4%
Kucinich: 2%
Edwards: 1%
Undecided: 13%
Margin of error: +/- 5%

Posted by Rob at 11:53 PM

Thomas Sugrue, U-M grad and author of "Origins of the Urban Crisis" will be speaking in the 284-seat Angell Hall Auditorium B next Thursday. Here's an announcement about the talk sent by the lecture organizers:

"The Michigan Colloquium on Race and Twentieth-Century American Political Development presents the second of eight public lectures:

Professor of History and Sociology
University of Pennsylvania


Thursday, October 16, 2003, 4 - 5:30 pm, Room Angell B, Angell Hall

Professor Sugrue teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has appointments in the Department of History and Sociology. He is author of a landmark study of Detroit, _The Origins of the Urban Crisis_ (Princeton, 1997), which won the Bancroft Prize in American History. Sugrue is currently researching the politics of civil rights in the urban North and the history of liberalism and anti-liberalism from the 1930s to the present; he is also writing a survey of the twentieth-century United States with Glenda Gilmore of Yale.

[...] For additional information, please contact colloquium organizers Matthew Lassiter, Tony Chen, and Robert Mickey at"

Posted by Rob at 4:29 PM

Somebody say "union" here?

A recent visitor:
"10 Oct, Fri, 14:16:44 MSIE 6 Windows 2000"

I haven't linked to it in a while, but for information about the corporation-wide unionization drive, see

Posted by Rob at 4:00 PM

Don't mess with Diag

"... Employees at the Diag Party Store said the 25-year-old man came in at 2:17 p.m. [Wednesday] and cut in front of the line of customers to demand 80 cents for bottle returns, reports said. The employees said the man did not have any bottles but claimed he already put them in the back room.

After the employees refused to give the customer money, he walked to the back and tried to grab a box of returnables, then pushed an employee, reports said. Other employees said they wrestled until the employee could handcuff the man, reports said.

When officers arrived, they found the suspect handcuffed on a crate and took him into custody, police said. He said the employees attacked him and would not pay him, reports said."

Posted by Rob at 1:06 PM

The Michigan Democratic Party has invited all nine Democratic presidential candidates to come to a forum at the Michigan Union on October 25, the day before a debate planned in Detroit.

Posted by Rob at 1:04 PM

Try this out. To to Urban Outfitter's website and type "ghetto" in the search box and press enter. If your experience is anything like mine, you'll be greeted with a pop-up window reading, "Due to customer concerns, Urban Outfitters no longer sells the board game 'Ghettopoly'." And for good reason, for an excellent discussion of the board game, I suggest Tim Wise's recent column "Ghettos are not a game: Making money on the misery of others." Excerpts:

"Chang's biggest offense is in reinforcing the notion of the ghetto as a free-standing entity, with an inherent culture, separate from the rest of the society. But in truth, the ghettos of this nation are the product of deliberate decisions made by political and economic elites. Whatever culture springs up in such places is not some intrinsic pathology unique to the urban poor, but largely the consequence of institutional racism and economic oppression.


As if this wasn't bad enough, local governments then began the process of "urban renewal," which meant the elimination of low-and-moderate-income family housing, to be replaced by office buildings, shopping centers and parking lots.

While hundreds of thousands of homes (one-fifth of all housing occupied at the time by people of color) were destroyed as part of this process, less than 10 percent of those displaced – three-fourths of whom were black – had new single-resident housing to go to afterwards, as cities rarely built new units to replace the old ones. Instead, displaced families often had to rely on crowded apartments, living with relatives, or living in run-down public housing projects."

I'd be interested to know if the company has made a decision on the similar "Homies" figurines they have sold in the past, since they're not listed on their website.

BBC: "Ghettopoly game sparks outrage" and plenty more via GoogleNews

Posted by Rob at 1:46 AM

Thursday, October 09, 2003

A few changes in the local business scene, the new Jimmy John's at the corner of William and State Street appears nearly ready to open for business, as construction crews have been working overtime on it the last few days. Also, yet another coffee shop appears to be under construction in the formerly vacant store at the Maynard street end of the Nickels Arcade.

Also, Rod had sold the diner carrying his name on South State Street between Hill and Packard, fingering increasing rents: "Rent goes up so bad. Everything goes up, but your money coming in doesn't go up. ... (Rent) started at $1,300 a month nine years ago and moved up. If we'd stayed it would have been $2,200 a month. I understand why family business have a hard time making it especially in Ann Arbor," Rodney said." Luckily the new owner, Kee Chang, plans to continue selling colliders at that location. Also in the area, the new Saki Bomb Depot seems to be doing well, or they were busy one night I stopped by a couple weeks back.

Who exactly are these anonymous landlords? In the case of Decker Drugs, it was a California-based commercial realtor who priced out the locally-owned retailer. For Rod's, according to the city's public online database, the property is owned by Dennis and Dianne Loy, of 200 E. Main Street Milan, MI, 48160, who have paid roughly $4,200 in taxes on the property over the last year. According to quick Google Search their home telephone number is (734) 439-0411 ... maybe somebody at the Daily could call them up and ask why they're jacking up the rent on our friend Rod!

Posted by Rob at 6:45 PM

Pabst City?

The old Pabst brewing facility in Milwaukee is going to be renovated in a $300 million project that intends to save many of the unique architectural ornament of the buildings, which date back to 1862. The development will include "an amphitheater, cinema, specialty retail shops, office space and loft apartments," according to a blurb in "Retail Traffic Magazine."

"If you've ever wandered around the place, you'd be amazed at the level of architectural detail and abundance of unique gargoyles and other strange things," writes the author of "Beyond Brilliance, Beyond Stupidity," a blog about urban issues, "Bringing the place back to life will not only do justice to the buildings, it will be a massive catalyst to rather stagnant bit of downtown."

I know another rust-belt city with plenty of historic buildings that could be restored ....

> NYTimes: "Hoping to revitalization Milwaukee" (Or here)
> See also a history of Pabst, or the official story

(Thanks ASP)

Posted by Rob at 6:22 PM

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

"The employee union at Borders Books in Ann Arbor voted overwhelmingly to reject the contract offered them by Borders management, reflecting that the dispute between the company and its employees is far from being resolved.

"This contract gave us absolutely nothing," a Borders store employee said. The employee, who asked to remain anonymous, added that union demands such as a living wage, job security and security of benefits were not met by the proposed contract."

> Daily: "Borders' proposal declined by union"

And this, a demonstration planned for Thursday:

Take Action to Support Borders Workers!

Come on down to Borders Bookstore on Liberty Street this Thursday to protest Borders Inc and its unfair labor practices. Borders Inc has unjustly fired workers, maintained that they will not provide a living wage to its 30 employees, and have continued its notorious tract record of union busting. The workers need support from the community and Borders needs to hear that we will not put up with another busted Borders union.

Thursday Oct. 9 picket at noon - Meet at Borders and join SOLE and Borders Readers United in showing solidarity and support for the Borders union."

Posted by Rob at 9:56 AM

Governor Schwarzenegger

Posted by Rob at 12:55 AM

After less than three days, the over 1,300 free tickets for Michael Moore's October 12 talk have been given out, even though it falls smack in the middle of fall break!

Posted by Rob at 12:46 AM

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Ah yes, Parking. Solution: Ban cars downtown, and double the amount of housing.

"Like a crouched cat ready to pounce on its prey, University of Michigan student Abby Mohan sits behind the wheel of her red Plymouth Neon scanning South State Street for a parking spot. It's a daily sport for Mohan, and hundreds of other university students looking for that coveted piece of pavement.

Forget affirmative action, rising tuition costs and the new president's house. The hottest issue for many at U-M and Eastern Michigan University is parking.

> And it only gets better from there .... "Over the next three or four years, U-M will gain another 1,200 spots" (including a structure planned for the Planada building site) and they make $11 Million from parking permits, and $700,000 from parking fines. See AANews: "Students at U-M, EMU learn parking is a pain"

Posted by Rob at 5:55 PM

Student Ghetto Break-ins: Again, not really in the student ghetto, but bear with me for the sake of the theme:

"500 block of Burwood Avenue, 3:45 p.m. Sunday. Door kicked in; three pairs of shoes valued at $450 taken.

150 block of Kingsbrook Avenue, 4:17 p.m. Friday. Front door pried open; laptop computer and hand-held radios taken. Total value: $2,050.

150 block of Kingsbrook Avenue, 3 p.m. Friday. Front door kicked in; DVDs, a Sony PlayStation, and duffel bag taken. Total value: $2,250.

1500 block of Cambridge Road, 10:31 p.m. Monday. Basement window smashed to gain entry; small amount of cash taken. "

Posted by Rob at 5:50 PM

The Ann Arbor City Council had delayed deciding whether to exercise their option to purchase the YMCA building on Williams Street.
> See "Council delays its decision on YMCA"

Here's a letter to the editor to the Ann Arbor News that I wrote with Ben King:

"To the editor:

As residents of Ann Arbor, we have been following the discussion about the future of the old Y building on Williams Street. We are discouraged that the city, the Y, and the AATA have failed to work together to find a creative solution to the problem. There are several needs of the Ann Arbor community that could be addressed through these organizations’ mutual compromise

The 100-unit affordable housing wing of the Y building takes up less that 7% of the Y's lot, and it seems to us that the need for an expanded bus station could be met without destroying this important structure. Affordable housing downtown is one of the most important issues facing the city, and this is a unique opportunity for these organizations to work towards their mutual goal: a healthy and vibrant downtown.

We encourage the three parties to negotiate a resolution which would preserve the existing housing and also encourage a diverse and efficient use of the property.

Of course, in a perfect world, we'd like to see the new bus station include a rooftop cafe, moderate-priced housing, and artists’ lofts, but this may be too much to ask. Preserving existing affordable housing isn't.

Benjamin C. King
Robert C. Goodspeed

Downtown Residents
Seniors, University of Michigan"

Posted by Rob at 5:36 PM

This troubling incident near the Law Quad reminds me of an attack that occurred a little over a year ago.

"U-M student reports late night attack

An 18-year-old University of Michigan student said she was attacked while walking home from a party early Sunday, Ann Arbor Police said.

The woman said she did not remember what happened or whether she was sexually assaulted, police said. She said she attended a party on Oakland Avenue and was walking home when she was attacked, possibly near the Law Quad, around 3 a.m. Sunday, police said. She had a scrape on her face and complained of leg pain, reports said.

The incident remains under investigation."

The Department of Public Safety has taken the unusual step of issuing a crime alert about the incident, even though the AAPD haven't released a description. See Daily: "Crime alert issued after night attack"

Posted by Rob at 12:22 AM

Monday, October 06, 2003

Random file of the day: A map to the Michigamua "Stomping Grounds," a property outside Ann Arbor used by that organization for gatherings.

Posted by Rob at 11:41 PM

A documentary on diversity on campus produced by the 'Dialogues on Diversity' office will premiere at a free screening tomorrow, at 4 P.M. in the Michigan Theatre:

"This documentary draws on more than forty hours of interviews with students done individually, in groups, in courses, and in extra-curricular activities. It features eleven students, with selections from other interviews woven in to provide counterpoint and dimension to their stories. Most of those featured are undergraduate students and generally representative of the student body. The students are enrolled in the colleges of Literature, Science and the Arts and Engineering, and the schools of Law, Business, Nursing, Art and Education.

The documentary is designed to provoke thoughtful and informed discussion of complex issues; it was not made to promote the University’s policies. ... "

> AANews: "U-M student documentary examines diversity"
> U-M Press Release
> Documentary "Trailer"
> Dialogues on Diversity

Posted by Rob at 2:17 PM

Anti-War Action is bringing Michael Moore to campus to speak about his new book "Dude, Where's my Country?" on October 12 in the Power Center. The even requires free tickets, available from the Michigan Union Ticket Office.

Posted by Rob at 11:36 AM

Dave Ender's Baghadad Bulletin faces an uncertain future, although you won't find anything about this former news reporter for the Michigan Daily in that newspaper: this account is in the Detroit Free Press. I guess challenging the editors on issues like the boycott earns one a lifetime ban!

"U-M grad battles for Iraq magazine

Next week, he'll be back in Baghdad, using his broken Arabic to snoop for news and hoping to keep afloat his dream of a free press for Iraq.

In the meantime, the cofounder of the Baghdad Bulletin is at home in Michigan, hunting for a monetary miracle to keep publishing his 4-month-old English-language news magazine.

"We've been holding things together by sheer willpower," said David Enders, the Grand Rapids native and spring 2003 graduate of the University of Michigan who started the twice-monthly news magazine with a British friend.
That's a loss for readers both in Iraq and in the United States -- particularly in metro Detroit's large Arab-American community, said Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab American News, based in Dearborn.

"The Iraqi community here needs to have a source that is not tied to political parties and has no religious affiliation," Siblani said. "An independent, credible publication will give a better view-- an honest view -- of what's going on." (more) "

Posted by Rob at 10:29 AM

Daily columnist Johanna Hanink focuses on recent events in her column today:

" "Wasted again? 'U' students find alcohol ads offensive" (10/03/03) reported on the placard-advertisements that have lately been gracing the residence-hall dining tables. One of these ads reads, "Wasted again? It doesn't take a lot of brains or therapy to figure out why your love life sucks." Above is a picture of a woman from below the waist; she is wearing a very short dark skirt and high heels. In large letters across the top, the woman asks, "Why can't I have a meaningful relationship?" Another ad shows a woman in heels and a short glittery dress throwing up violently into a toilet. "Guilty of dumping toxic waste?" asks the placard.

These ads stereotype those female students on this campus who enjoy going out on the weekends as out-of-control, pathetic relationship dependents. I found the "Why can't I have a meaningful relationship" tagline particularly outrageous - is that the objective of being at the University? The proverbial "M.R.S." degree? If we female students don't have a meaningful relationship, are we failing - is there something wrong with us? There are no "male" analogues to these "public-service" advertisements. The Alcohol and Other Drugs Prevention Program explained that there is a male-oriented line to be released next year, but that the program lacked the funds this year to launch both simultaneously. Apparently we girls are the bigger problem."

Also, an 18-year old West Bloomfield native has died at a fraternity gathering in Chicago.

Posted by Rob at 10:18 AM

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Detroit Mayor Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick wants to convert the abandoned Michigan Central Depot into a new headquarters for the Detroit Police Department, according to the Associated Press. While I think many people would like to see the structure preserved, I can only assume a complete restoration would cost a fantastic sum.

"Neither Hagood nor Moroun would estimate what it might cost to refit the train station as a police headquarters.

Built in 1913 and vacated by Amtrak in 1988, the depot has been reduced to ruin by vandalism and the effects of the elements. Virtually every window is broken and the depot and more than once the city considered razing the structure."

Also, the Freep covers the Sigma Chi hazing case: "U-M pledge's case spurs legal remedy"

Posted by Rob at 2:30 AM

Friday, October 03, 2003

"Homeland" Security ... in Ann Arbor?

"The Ann Arbor Police Department was one of seven law enforcement agencies in southeastern Michigan to receive a Justice Department grant for overtime services related to homeland security.

The police department was awarded $92,867 under the terms of the Homeland Security Overtime Program, part of the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services. The Dearborn, Detroit, Monroe County and Southfield police departments and the sheriff's departments in Macomb and Wayne counties also received grants.

The grants awarded to Michigan law enforcement agencies totaled $6.3 million."

> From the Ann Arbor News

Posted by Rob at 9:24 PM

Once in a while, somebody at the New York Times shows a little spine, but it's usually only after everybody else is doing the same ...

"'Slime and Defend'

On July 14, Robert Novak published the now-famous column in which he identified Valerie Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, as a C.I.A. "operative on weapons of mass destruction," and said "two senior administration officials" had told him that she was responsible for her husband's mission to Niger. On that mission, Mr. Wilson concluded — correctly — that reports of Iraqi efforts to buy uranium were bogus.


The right-wing media slime machine, which tries to assassinate the character of anyone who opposes the right's goals — hey, I know all about it — has already swung into action. For example, The Wall Street Journal's editorial page calls Mr. Wilson an "open opponent of the U.S. war on terror." We've grown accustomed to this sort of slur — and they accuse liberals of lacking civility? — but let's take a minute to walk through it.

Mr. Wilson never opposed the "war on terror" — he opposed the war in Iraq precisely because it had no obvious relevance to the campaign against terror. He feared that invading a country with no role in 9/11, and no meaningful Al Qaeda links, would divert resources from the pursuit of those who actually attacked America. Many patriots in the military and the intelligence community agreed with him then; even more agree now.

Unlike the self-described patriots now running America, Mr. Wilson has taken personal risks for the sake of his country. In the months before the first gulf war, he stayed on in Baghdad, helping to rescue hundreds of Americans who might otherwise have been held as hostages. The first President Bush lauded him as a "truly inspiring diplomat" who exhibited "courageous leadership."

In any case, Mr. Wilson's views and character are irrelevant. Someone high in the administration committed a felony and, in the view of the elder Mr. Bush, treason. End of story.

The hypocrisy here is breathtaking. Republicans have repeatedly impugned their opponents' patriotism. Last year Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, said Democrats "don't want to protect the American people. . . . They will do anything, spend all the time and resources they can, to avoid confronting evil."

But the true test of patriotism isn't whether you are willing to wave the flag, or agree with whatever the president says. It's whether you are willing to take risks and make sacrifices, including political sacrifices, for the sake of your country. This episode is a test for Mr. Bush and his inner circle: a true patriot wouldn't hesitate about doing the right thing in the Plame affair, whatever the political costs.

Mr. Bush is failing that test."

Posted by Rob at 2:19 PM

LSA Honors to Revise Admissions Criteria

The Daily shines a bright light on a huge black mark at the University: the enormous bias towards wealthy white students in admissions to the "honors" program, something that engendered a lively debate when I posted posted about it in July. In short, the honors program until recently used a rigid minimum GPA and SAT score to invite people to join the program, resulting in an extremely homogeneous community. According to the article, "The program will use the new undergraduate application to look at candidates more holistically," although it's unclear exactly how that will happen.

"At nine in the morning, about 500 freshman honors students listlessly assemble for Prof. H.D. Cameron's lecture. On this morning, Great Books 191 seats one black person.

The glaring lack of underrepresented minorities is no secret to students in the Honors Program, a division of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Since the program is relatively small - enrolling about 2,000 students - most students and administrators have noticed the lack of blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans.
Statistics and records on the program's racial composition are not available to the public. But the visible lack of minority students, who are statistically less likely to obtain such scores, indicates that the standards were more rigidly enforced. The program's director, Stephen Darwall, confirmed that students were once admitted "by and large based on test scores and grades."
"That was the University's entire argument, that racial diversity is beneficial to the academic experience. If that's what the University believes and it's not extended to all its programs, then the University's failing itself. If the belief is that true diversity is diversity of ideas, then it's not," said Ruben Duran, LSA senior and editor in chief of the Michigan Review."

> Daily: "Honors Program criticized for shortage of diversity"

Here's what I had to say in July:

"1) The honors admissions criteria- simply a minimum GPA and SAT score - is flawed. If the University recently won a supreme court decision by arguing in part that test scores alone are not enough to determine admissions, why does the honors program do it? The honors program should put more effort in communicating to incoming students, trying to recruit intellectually curious people through a broad variety of criteria, including students' geographic and economic backgrounds, race, academic interests, and activities.

2) Prof. Darwall should focus not exclusively on forging an honors community, but an intellectual community in general at Michigan. By limiting events and resources to LSA Honors participants, they leave out many students who have much to give, and, I think, make the honors program unnecessarily elitist. I believe the Perlman Honors Commons and events held there should be open to all students - providing academic resources to motivated students is one thing, but creating a space exclusively for honors students at the center of campus is another entirely. "

Posted by Rob at 2:24 AM

Thursday, October 02, 2003

The Downtown Development Authority, the private entity that runs the parking structures and pays for downtown improvements without democratic control or oversight has voted 7-1 to support the mayor's greenbelt proposal.

Also, this from the Ann Arbor News police beat:

"A taxi driver said he was pulled from his cab early today and assaulted by a group of men who also broke the windshield of his vehicle, according to the University of Michigan Department of Public Safety.

The driver said he was in the 300 block of Observatory just after midnight when the attack occurred, reports said. He told police that four or five men assaulted him, then one jumped on his cab and broke the windshield, reports said. He did not suffer any serious injury."

Posted by Rob at 11:01 PM

The community organization working in solidarity with Border's employees trying to create a union, Borders Readers United, has started a blog.

Posted by Rob at 6:51 PM

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

I just added this year's "Academic Freedom Lecture" to the calendar. The lecture is held each year to honor three U-M professors who told McCarthy to take a hike, causing two to be fired by the University. This year's speaker is David Cole, a professor of law at Georgetown, and he will be speaking on “Freedom and Terror: September 11th and the 21st Century Challenge” at 4:00 PM on October 20 in 100 Hutchins Hall in the Law Quad.

Also of note, they have announced the speaker for 2004: Noam Chomsky.

Posted by Rob at 11:15 PM

It seems the Borders employees who are seeking to get a union at that bookstore's flagship downtown Ann Arbor store are trying to ratchet up the pressure. Organizers have started an online petition to complement the more than 4,000 they have already collected, and political students are holding a show of support this Saturday:

" Borders Readers Unite! Support Union Workers!

* * * Take action this Saturday, October 4 at 6PM * * * in front of the Liberty Street Borders Bookstore and join SOLE in an action to defend the Borders workers' union.

* * * * *
In December 2002, workers at Borders Bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor voted 51 to 4 in favor of forming a union. Borders workers formed a union to obtain a decent standard of living, to have a voice at work and to protect the quality & tradition of Borders Store #1.

Borders Inc. is attempting to bust the Union
* Borders Inc. fired a long-term employee to intimidate workers.
* Borders Inc. reduced staffing by 1/3 at the store by eliminating higher paid positions and outsourcing the cleaning crew.
* Borders Inc. paid *millions* to one of the nation's top union busting law firms, Jackson Lewis

Borders Inc. refuses to negotiate in good faith with the Union
* Borders Inc. refuses to negotiate on issues such as fulltime status, overtime, vacation or scheduling.
* Borders Inc. will only agree to wage increases less than what employees currently recieve.
* Borders Inc. wants to limit the union's ability to enforce any contract that is negotiated.
* Borders Inc. made $125 million in profits last year yet refuses to negotiate a living wage with workers."

Posted by Rob at 10:48 PM

Michigan Democrats are planning a Democratic presidential debate in Detroit's Fox Theatre on October 26, which will be broadcast as a 90-minute program on Fox News.

Also, the Michigan state quarter will feature an outline of the state - and not a Model T. The quarter will be released next year.

Posted by Rob at 9:45 AM

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