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February03 (Feb. 18-22)



Sunday, November 30, 2003

Is the donut growth model already here in Detroit?

Posted by Rob at 8:11 PM

The Ann Arbor News files a lengthy story today on the ongoing Borders strike: "Stakes high for Borders, strikers as talks resume"

"... The first two weeks of the strike, sales at Shaman Drum Bookshop, around the corner from Borders' East Liberty Street store, increased 50 percent. Owner Karl Pohrt sells both popular and scholarly books, some of which are sold at Borders as well.

Pohrt himself feels squeezed between profit margins and a desire to pay employees more. Starting wages for hourly workers at his store are $7.50 an hour, and average hourly wages are about $8.50, he says. He acknowledges that raising wages significantly would be difficult, given that the retail industry, particularly independent bookselling, continues to struggle.

"The book business may be a business model that doesn't work for anybody very well because the profits are so slim," said Pohrt, a director of the American Booksellers Association, a trade group for independent bookstores nationwide." ..."

Posted by Rob at 3:09 PM

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Here's a juicy conspiracy theory for you: the late Senator Paul Wellstone was assassinated.

Posted by Rob at 10:20 PM

A Detroit businessman has been selected by President Bush to serve on a six-member group charged with raising over $350 million for a National Museum of African American History and Culture to be built on the mall in Washington D.C. as part of the Smithsonian Institution:

" ... The museum will offer Americans that total experience of both history past and present, of what we've done and what we've contributed," he said. "The scope and depth of the museum coupled with the marquee of the Smithsonian will help raise funds for this project."

The museum will be built on one of four sites on or near the National Mall, home of the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The site will be selected within 12 months, according to the legislation. The legislation calls for the museum to be part of the Smithsonian and for the appointment of an advisory committee to work with the Smithsonian on the plans.

The museum will tell the African-American story from slavery through Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, the civil rights movement and the present. It will outline African-American contributions in sports, the performing arts and other areas.

Detroit has the largest among similar museums with its Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History at 120,000 square feet.

But the Smithsonian museum is expected to be much larger. ... "

> Freep: "Detroiter gets black museum on track"

Posted by Rob at 4:43 PM

From the Ann Arbor News police beat:

"Scuffle with robber leaves man injured

A 21-year-old man suffered a broken jaw and other injuries after he refused to give money to a robber during an attack in downtown Ann Arbor Wednesday night, city police reported.

The Hartland Township resident said he parked on Washington Street and was walking toward the Blind Pig at 10:30 p.m. when he was confronted by a stranger, reports said. He said the man demanded money, and when he refused was punched in the face. He suffered a broken jaw and was knocked unconscious, reports said.

While the victim was lying on the sidewalk, the attacker rifled his pockets and removed his keys and a cell phone, reports said. The victim regained consciousness before the attacker got to his wallet and was able to kick him away, reports said. He was last seen walking away on Washington Street, and was not found in the area by officers, police said.

And this Break-in:
900 block of South State Street, Thursday. Digital camera, value undetermined, taken. Method of entry unknown.

Finally, from now until December 20, the downtown circulator bus "The Link" will be free on Fridays and Saturdays.

Posted by Rob at 4:01 PM

United Students Against Sweatshops has started an e-mail campaign in support of the striking Border's workers.

Posted by Rob at 3:58 PM

Thursday, November 27, 2003

"Take off your riot gear, there ain't no riot here."

What really happened in Miami last week? Aside from the brutal repression of protesters with over $8 million in taxpayer dollars, what happened inside the meeting was more important: FTAA, as envisioned by the Bush administration, failed.

"... And yet, despite the Bush brothers' best efforts, the dream of a hemisphere united into a single free-market economy died last week. It was killed not by demonstrators in Miami, but by the populations of Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia, which have let their politicians know that if they sign away any more power to foreign multinationals, they may as well not come home.

The Brazilians brokered a compromise that makes the agreement a pick-and-choose affair, allowing governments to sign on to the parts they like and refuse the ones they don't. Washington will, of course, continue to try to bully individual countries and groups of nations into sweeping trade contracts on the model of the North American free-trade agreement, but there will be no single, unified deal.
Our goal was to drown you out," one Miami-Dade police officer explained to me, and that's exactly what they did. Small, peaceful demonstrations were attacked with extreme force; organizations were infiltrated by undercover officers who then used stun guns on activists; busses filled with union members were prevented from joining permitted marches; dozens of young faces were smashed into concrete and beaten bloody with batons; human rights activists had guns pointed at their heads at military-style checkpoints."

> From Naomi Klein in the Globe and Mail: "The War on Dissent"
> Also see Common Dreams Viewpoint on the police tactics: "The Miami Model"

Posted by Rob at 3:09 PM

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Rob at 12:06 AM

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

No week would be complete without a few break-ins:

"200 block of South Fifth Avenue, 12:28 p.m. Monday. Lock on door manipulated to gain entry; laptop computer valued at $2,000 taken.

800 block of Arch Street, 12:11 p.m. Monday. Front door forced open; CDs, CD holder, DVDs and wine taken. Total value: $1,610.

1300 block of Northbrook Drive, 5:45 p.m. Tuesday. Entry through a rear patio door; a Nintendo game system, LCD monitor and electronic games taken.

2700 block of Alhambra Drive, 7:32 p.m. Tuesday. Entry gained to garage; a bicycle valued at $250 taken.

600 block of Brooks Street, 2:50 p.m. Tuesday. Basement window broken; jewelry, a jewelry box and CDs taken. Total value: $1,600. "

Posted by Rob at 11:58 PM

Yet another person has been hit on Ann Arbor streets recently, this time an unidentified 23-year-old who has been hospitalized after a hit-and-run accident on Packard Ave. near East University, according to the Ann Arbor News. Like Plymouth Road, this is another area of town where the interests of cars have trumped the interests of pedestrians in the eyes of the city: there are no crosswalks in the area, despite heavy pedestrian traffic.

"Ann Arbor Police are seeking witnesses to a hit-and-run crash that seriously injured a 23-year-old Ann Arbor woman last weekend.

The woman remains hospitalized at the University of Michigan Medical Center for injuries she suffered when she was struck on Packard Street early Saturday. The woman was in the roadway, near the intersection of East University Avenue, when she was hit by a vehicle that failed to stop around 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

A few people were in the area when police arrived, but were unable to give a good description of the vehicle, Sgt. Brad Hill said. The woman was intoxicated at the time and was unable to recall the crash, police said.

Washtenaw County Sheriff's deputies pursued a vehicle shortly after the hit and run, but authorities have determined that the chase was unrelated, Hill said.

Anyone with information is asked to call (734) 994-2865."

Posted by Rob at 11:55 PM

"... Gov. Jennifer Granholm symbolically cut her own salary in order to ease Michigan’s own financial troubles, showing that if you’re going to cut corners to fit budget constraints, you obviously cut the biggest ones first. And, President Coleman, I do believe that what is good enough the Michigan state government is good enough for the University. Sure you gave $500,000 in internal donations, but you have yet to address the systemic problems of internal overspending.

There is no reason why you, as the University president and an accomplished scholar, should not rake in some serious cash, but if your salary were reduced by even 10 percent, you would still rank wealthy among the nation’s university administrators, and that would leave the University with much more financial resources.

As of right now, there are 50 University employees who make more than a quarter of a million dollars a year. If they all took even a 5 percent salary cut, that would make a remarkable dent in our fiscal woes, and GSIs, who technically are paid poverty wages, wouldn’t have to be thrown to the wolves of the national health care crisis. ... "

> From Ari Paul's column: "Mary Sue, can you live up to your own rhetoric?", also see "GEO votes to settle with 'U' over heath care"

Wondering where Ari got the data on the University's highest-paid employees? Try this website.

Other articles of note:
> Daily: State's breathalyzer tactics ruled illegal
> AANews: "Housing units near downtown get nod"
> AANews: "Police: U-M's Curry driving on a suspended license"

Posted by Rob at 11:47 PM

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

A story asking for a National Borders Strike has been posted on Infoshop news.

Posted by Rob at 5:08 PM

"For years, police officers throughout Michigan have violated the rights of countless college students and others under age 21 by forcing them to submit Breathalyzers without a warrant," Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan, said in a news release Monday. "This is a tremendous victory for the civil liberties of young adults."

> From AP: "Federal judge: City can't force pedestrian booze tests"

Posted by Rob at 4:51 PM

I've created another RSS feed. Let me know if it's better than the first.

Posted by Rob at 3:39 PM


The ACLU of Michigan has won their lawsuit challenging Michigan's MIP law. The police will no longer be able to force minors who are not driving a car to take a Breathalyzer test without a search warrent.

> ACLU-MI Press Release: Federal Court Strikes Down Breathalyzer Tests for Pedestrians as Unconstitutional

Here's the text of the Ann Arbor MIP law, taken from the city code:

"9:81. Possession or consumption by minors.

No person under 21 years of age shall consume or attempt to consume liquor, or possess or attempt to possess liquor except as permitted by the Michigan Liquor Control Act.

(Ord. No. 60-87, § 2, 9-21-87; Ord. No. 27-97, § 2, 6-16-97)

9:82. Penalties for liquor violations.

(1) Any person who violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

(2) Any person who violates subsections 9:74 or 9:81 shall be punishable as follows:

(a) For the first violation a fine of not more than $100.00 and may be ordered to participate in substance abuse prevention or substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation services, perform community service and to undergo substance abuse screening and assessment at his or her own expense.

(b) For a second violation a fine of not more than $200.00 and may be ordered to participate in substance abuse prevention or substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation services, to perform community service, and to undergo substance abuse screening and assessment at his or her own expense.

(c) For a third or subsequent violation a fine of not more than $500.00 and may be ordered to participate in substance abuse prevention or substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation service, to perform community service, and to undergo substance abuse screening and assessment at his or her own expense.

(Ord. No. 60-87, § 2, 9-21-87; Ord. No. 70-91, § 1, 1-6-92; Ord. No. 27-97, § 3, 6-16-97)"

Posted by Rob at 11:06 AM

"About 46 percent of American adults attend church at least once a week, not counting weddings, funerals and christenings, compared with 14 percent of adults in Great Britain, 8 percent in France, 7 percent in Sweden and 4 percent in Japan."

> UMPR: "U-M study: U.S. among the most religious nations in the world"

Posted by Rob at 2:59 AM

Psst, want a projector?

The LCD projectors continue to disappear:

"DPS and officials at Washtenaw Community College (WCC) are offering rewards for information leading to the recovery of recently stolen LCD projectors and the arrest of individuals responsible for the thefts. Ten projectors valued at $50,000 have been stolen from U-M buildings since April, while WCC has experienced 11 thefts valued at $35,000 since July.

Anyone with information is asked to contact DPS at (734) 763-1131, the University's Anonymous Tip Line at (800) 863-1355, WCC's tip line at (734) 677-5343 or the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Confidential Tip Line at (734) 973-7711."

Posted by Rob at 2:44 AM

The Daily put their coverage of yesterday's fundraiser for the arrested FTAA protestors and release party for the second issue of MOMENT on the front page, online at least.

Also, the editorial page is full of letters praising the University for allowing students to rush the field Saturday. Apparently brutal repression didn't go over so well in 1997.

Posted by Rob at 2:35 AM

Monday, November 24, 2003

I've added a few books to my books page, including this book Murph posted about called "City Comforts: How to Build an Urban Village".

Posted by Rob at 4:43 PM

Somebody was paying attention when the greenbelt passed: developers are gobbling up land in Washtenaw County in what could be a "feeding frenzy" in the hundreds of millions of dollars:

"In the last three weeks, I've delivered about $70 million in letters of intent (to purchase), and we're still in the preliminary stages," said Gary Lillie of Gary Lillie & Associates in Ann Arbor.

Lillie is working with one builder who seeks 2,500 acres in western Washtenaw and a second builder seeking 1,000 acres. Lillie would not identify the builders but said they are making the same offer to everyone.

In one case, that was just over three times the listed price on a 40-acre parcel.

The companies' goals, said Lillie, is to amass enough property for the next 20 years worth of development in the area."

I wonder if they'll be anything left for the city to preserve with their modest budget? In a sense, it's ironic: all that sound and fury, where new urbanist white male developers debated sprawl-obsessed white male developers, and Ann Arbor will turn out just as ugly and segregated as so much of the rest of the state. And they come whining to me to help figure out why Michigan just isn't "cool" enough.

Posted by Rob at 4:24 PM

Susan Wineberg pens a very interesting op-ed submission to the Ann Arbor News, blaming Ann Arbor's affordable housing crisis on the University. While I'm not sure that the University is entirely to blame, I think her point is well taken: the University has indeed destroyed much more housing than it has replaced in the last 30 years. Her historical analysis is intriguing:

"... Consider this. When the university constructed the School of Business on Monroe St. in the late 1940s, it relocated many of the houses on that site to other parts of town. When it built the Food Services Building (later Neuroscience and just recently demolished for the Bio-Med Building going up right now) the houses on these lots were moved elsewhere. When they built the Law School and Martha Cook Dorm, houses on the site were moved to other locations. We know this from a house-moving permit book at the Bentley Library.

By the 1950s, however, the ethic of demolition had replaced that of recycling and it continues unabated to this day. In 1953 the Wines Field buildings and Geddes House were demolished and in 1959, 820 E. Washington was as well. In 1964, the Jefferson Apartments were demolished as were the Cutting Apartments on State Street. In the 1990s the university began tearing down historic houses on Wall Street to provide parking for the medical center. These houses were connected with some of the earliest settlers of Ann Arbor and deserved a better fate. In 1996, the University Terrace Apartments for married students were demolished.

The university has also been systematically buying and demolishing historic houses on South Division and intends to demolish the entire east side of Division, from Blimpie Burger (Krazy Jim's) on Madison to East William Street. This is stated in the 1987 Update of the 1963 Campus Master Plan by Johnson, Johnson and Roy (which recently won an award from the Society for College and University Planning/American Institute of Architects) as a way "to complete the western edge of the campus by extending development to the major north and south arterial, Division Street, to provide a strong visual boundary and identity from the west. The Thompson Street parking deck will be expanded to the edge of Division and softened with landscape appropriate with the quality of the street." This plan envisions Jefferson Street as a new entry into campus and involves the demolition of a lot of affordable and historic residential housing. ... "

To me, this is what the issue comes down to: When you are a large and powerful institution with lots of money at your disposal, it is easy to destroy and built monster one-use buildings and projects. It's extremely difficult to build complex, successful urban communities. In fact, I would argue the development of successful urban communities necessarily defies the logic of "planners" sitting in an office. Expanding the University is easy: expanding the University in a way that is successful for both the University community and city is difficult, and this is what the University should be preoccupied with - not merely where and what to build next, or where the "boundary" "should be". Here I will propose a few principals that the University and city should embrace:

1) Wherever possible, preserve historic buildings, fascades, and architectural elements. After all, it is this built history which makes all the parents croon about how "quaint" the city is, and drop lots of money in local businesses, which gives me a job and helps make Ann Arbor a pleasant place to pay $30,000 a year to live. It also helps makes us "cool," or something like that - whatever makes Ann Arbor a place where young people will actually live, instead of running from this sprawl-obsessed state to a place with a touch of real urbanity.

2) Remain committed to a multi-use street. I'm not sure where we got the idea that a street is simply a strip of tar for cars. A street is a space for trucks, cars, bicycles, pedestrians, motorcycles, segways, etc, and should be designed with all of these uses in mind. The city should be place priority on building many more crosswalks, medians (to make crossing easier and slow traffic) and bike lanes (sorely needed, particularly "downtown" where the few that exist don't really connect to anything or each other). Some of the most successful cities, (New York, Washington D.C., and Paris, in my experience) do this in a variety of ways - a wide street can have "express" lanes in the center, local lanes for slower traffic and delivery trucks, a median with benches, and even bike lanes. A bicycle and pedestrian has every much a "right" to be on the street as the auto, since all participate equally in the social and economic life of the city. However, I suspect many in the city harbor the prejudice that all students are somehow undesirable, and hence the city shouldn't serve their needs - but nothing could be more wrong.

3) Both the University and the city should remember the essence of urbanism: fine-grained, multi-use development. This means the city should loosen or abolish large parts of the zoning codes for much of "downtown," and encourage new developers to take into consideration the needs of the city. To be clear, I think this is something the city's planning department understands, as the Lower Town project, Corner House Lofts and the Collegian will combine uses in excellent ways.

4) Related to the last principal, the University should seek to craft innovative, creative solutions to their growth needs, instead of just exercising their hegemony of power to impose their will unilaterally. The University must recognize their role in destroying street life. Parking garages, massive office and laboratory buildings all enforce a uniformity of use on the surrounding streets: meaning they will only be used at certain times of the day, and there will never be businesses, no matter how many pedestrians pass buy hungry for a cup of coffee or a bagel. There is no rational or economic reason why all new University buildings must be single-use, only a cultural one. In their obsession with constructing a "campus" with buildings in a green grid, they view using office space in University Towers and 611 Church (as examples) as temporary. Why not include ground-level retail space, or upper-classmen apartments into new buildings, like what many other colleges do? Also, while I certainly understand why campuses are nice, why not locate small offices and units of the University that don't need to be on campus in smaller buildings in Ann Arbor? I see this being mutually beneficial: the pedestrian traffic on Ann Arbor streets would be an economic boon to downtown business, and the city could fully utilize some of its vacant lots and office space. Indeed, this is a pattern that I see occurring now, but generally because of a lack of on-campus space, not part of a general strategy. If the University wants to build their suburban paradise, they can do it on North Campus, but if its lifeless and sterile and nobody wants to go there, don't be suprised. Ann Arbor is a city, and insisting otherwise is not only counterproductive and destructive, but downright banal.

Posted by Rob at 4:16 PM

Two Ohio State fans were taken to the U-M hospital after being assaulted outside the Brown Jug on South University 1 AM Sunday morning. Welcome to Ann Arbor, home of the Leaders and the Best(TM)!

Also, a busy weekend for theft. I wonder where all these hot laptops end up?

"800 block of East University Avenue, 7:13 p.m. Sunday. No signs of forced entry; laptop computer, Xbox and electronic games taken. Total value: $3,250.

1100 block of Willard Street, 3:23 p.m. Sunday. Entry through basement window or front door; laptop computer valued at $1,600 taken.

1100 block of Willard Street, 2:44 p.m. Sunday. Entry through bathroom window or front door; laptop computer, MP3 player, cash and a purse taken. Total value: $1,530.

500 block of Packard Street, 6 a.m. Sunday. Entry through unlocked screen door; laptop computer, cell phone, leather coat, backpack, game bag, PDA, camera, boots and soccer cleats taken. Total value: $2,270.

1200 block of South State Street, 3:48 p.m. Saturday. Entry through unlocked door; laptop computer valued at $2,000 taken.

1000 block of Broadway Street, 7 a.m. Saturday. Glass window broken out at business; cash register and contents and cash box taken. Total value: $586.

700 block of Arch Street, 4 a.m. Saturday. Entry through unlocked apartment door; residence ransacked and a door wall and Sony PlayStation destroyed.

800 block of Arch Street, 3 a.m. Saturday. Entry gained during house party; laptop computer valued at $2,000 taken.

700 block of South State Street, 12:14 a.m. Saturday. Apartment door kicked in; recording mixer, video games, 60 DVDs and a TV taken. Total value: $1,750. "

Posted by Rob at 3:32 PM

A 21-year-old Ann Arbor woman came home from the bar, took a shower, and passed out in the bedroom. The only problem? The resident of the Tappan St. apartment was quite suprised - she was in the wrong apartment.

Posted by Rob at 3:28 PM

Thank God for California

They're going to require all voting precincts equip electronic voting machines with a printer to produce a written record of the votes. Too bad the rule doesn't take effect until 2006.

Posted by Rob at 3:12 PM

Attention Honors Freshman

My Winter 2004 course "Student Activism and Social Change at the University of Michigan" now has a website. The course is open to first year honors students only.

Posted by Rob at 2:36 AM

Sunday, November 23, 2003

We might pay her more than any other president of an American public university, but Mary Sue Coleman and her husband certainly give back, planning a $500,000 donation over five years to fund work at the Trotter House, a life sciences lecture fund, the expansion of the U-M art museum, among other projects.

Posted by Rob at 9:42 PM

Planada Parking Garage Announced

"... $13 million, 500-car parking structure in the 1100 block of East Ann Street to provide parking for the growing demand for parking facilities in the medical campus area. ... The project costs will be paid using parking revenues. The design work is scheduled to begin next month. The location until recently was the site of the old Planada apartments, which U-M bought with the intention of razing. ... " (AANews)

Perhaps the garage will include rentable retail space on the ground floor so that the small businesses can serve the needs of all the Hill Dorm students and the employees of the new medical buildings under construction, in addition to supplying some part-time jobs I'm sure students would love to have. Or maybe they'll be expected to drive somewhere for lunch, creating the "need" to construct more parking structures over historic buildings ...

Posted by Rob at 9:38 PM

The University of Michigan goes another year without winning a Rhodes scholarship (See the U-M nominees), although Johns Hopkins University student and West Bloomfield native Wen Shi won one to pursue his dream to cure cancer.

Posted by Rob at 9:32 PM

"The dinner was especially memorable for me because of the opportunity it provided to reflect on the phenomenon of which my darling rag is a part: the continuing story of conservative journalism on campus. It is an inspiring story of shoestring budgets, sleepless nights, and perseverance in the face of what is still often fierce student, and occasionally administration, animosity. It is a story that demonstrates one of the founding premises of modern American conservatism. As the famous title of one of Richard Weaver's books puts it, "Ideas have consequences."

I recently viewed at 1988 Frontline documentary called "Racism 101" about the BAM III movement at the University of Michigan, and also included some about the Dartmouth Review. I thought this might be a good time to give some historical context to the whole "Review" movement. In the early 1980s, dozens of conservative publications sprung up across the country to counter what they perceived to be the liberal dogma within both the established student newspapers and also academe more generally. Although the founders may wrap their "grassroots" movement with nostalgia (see source to the above quote), each paper was from the beginning financed to the tune of thousands of dollars a year by various corporations, foundations, and individuals. Today, that aid comes from something called the Collegiate Network, which funnels money to dozens of conservative publications around the country including our beloved Michigan Review. Meanwhile, the people at the Michigan Daily and Moment have to seek advertising revenue and donations to print their newspapers.

In a sense, the Reviews are a well-funded national program to systematically attack diversity, toleration, and the liberal arts tradition more generally on college campuses. Whether it's self-righteously arguing for the ability of standardized testing to measure intelligence, or attacking Black studies programs and women's studies programs, they can always be counted on to provide an intolerant, reactionary, and often flat-out ignorant viewpoints that were "missing" before. As an example, Dartmouth Review staffers were suspended for harassing a professor after three of them aggressively confronted a professor after his class, with tape recorders and cameras rolling, after he had told them he didn't want to talk to them.

The Review is also the recipient of somewhat unusually assigned office space - it's unclear to me how their office in the Michigan League came about, and they only recently were required to re-apply for it: one of the products, ironically, of the "space panel" convened by Bollinger after the Students of Color Coalition forced the University to evict Michigamua, Phoenix, and Vulcan from the Michigan Union Tower.

Meanwhile, why do we have the day off classes on Martin Luther King Day? The MLK Symposium was created as the direct result of the Black Action Movement III, when a multiracial coalition led a one-day boycott of classes on Martin Luther King day, and asked the Regents to create special educational events and give students the day off classes. They won: the MLK Symposium was born, and the University made a strong written commitment to future diversity, although it would go unfufilled in the eyes of many in the following decade. This from the Director of OAMI John Matlock:

"When I came back to the University of Michigan - some 12 years after finishing my doctorate program, the campus was in its second or third year of officially celebrating Dr. King's contributions. Like the national holiday, the University's recognition didn't come easily. Students and others on the campus had been observing the holiday with the "Commemoration of a Dream" march some years before the University agreed to recognize the holiday. The spirit of Dr. King was alive at U-M through its students - the same students who had never had the opportunity to meet Dr. King but who were the beneficiaries of his legacy."

Posted by Rob at 9:04 PM

I've heard the U-M students and SOLE members arrested protesting the FTAA meeting in Miami, Mike Medow and Jenny Lee, are being held until Monday on $500 bail. Moment magazine and are holding an event to celebrate that magazine's second issue, and to benefit the arrested Michigan activists:

"THIS MONDAY - November 24 - MOMENT* and will be hosting an event to celebrate the release of the second edition of MOMENT and to raise money for our Michigan activists arrested during the FTAA protests in Miami. (see below for details on the arrests)

The party will be held at Oneline Studio on Fourth and Huron in Ann Arbor from 8 to 11pm. Donations welcome at the door, sliding scale.

We'll have MUSIC, DRINK, POETRY, & MINGLING... If you are poet, writer, or musician, come prepared to take the stage.

Stay strong on the streets - BRING 'EM DOWN, YALL!!! We'll see you on Monday.

Love and struggle -

Moment Magazine


Two Indy Media journalists and Rad.Art founders were arrested over the weekend - please come and support our efforts to help them and other activists who are being detained and mistreated since the past week. For more information, see

*Moment is a new publication of progressive thought; articles, short stories, poetry, and art.

Submissions welcome, - email for more information.

We stand for Social Justice, Diversity, and Humanity. Against Oppression,
Exploitation, and Exclusion."

Posted by Rob at 2:17 PM

Saturday, November 22, 2003

U-M Football defeated Ohio State today 35-21 in the 100th game in that rivalry. Attendance in Michigan Stadium set a record at 112,118 people.

Posted by Rob at 10:57 PM

In the MSA election, Students First won 17 seats, the University Party won 4, and DAAP won 2 seats. Here's the full unofficial MSA election results.

In the LSA Student Government race, Students First won 9 of the 10 open seats. Here are the full LSA-SG election results.

Posted by Rob at 2:11 PM

According to the IMC U-M students Jenny Lee and Mike Medow were among five independent journalists arrested at the FTAA meeting in Miama, Florida.

Posted by Rob at 2:09 PM

Here's some of the student government elections results, I'll post the complete results soon. The numbers following each candidate's name is the total number of votes, and then the weighted score, which determine the ranking. For example, 10 votes in the first position scores higher than 10 votes in lesser ranked positions.

Michigan Student Assembly Elections:

Jon Anderson (S1) 1409 8594
Paul Spurgeon (S1) 1286 7542
Chris Kang (S1) 1303 7305
Ashley L. Whitfield (S1)1262 7111
Russell Garber (S1) 1239 7037
Paige Revelson (S1) 1255 6979
Sam Woll (S1) 1212 6804
Ashwini Hardikar (S1) 1157 6374
Laban J. King (S1) 1081 5552
Charles Adside, III (UP)910 5116

Jeff Mirmelstein (S1) 68 122
Jessica DeBartolo (UP) 76 114

Deidre Shelton (S1) 8 8

Anita Leung (UP) 407 883
Katherine McGee (S1) 347 806
Brian Doughty (S1) 324 665

Ferdous Barlaskar (S1) 41 41

Jason Amos (DAAP) 63 63

Maureen "Mo" Cebula (UP) 110 110

Public Policy
Doreen O'Donovan 13 13

Public Health
Shannon D. Haffey (UP) 8 8

Eleanor Gao (S1) 215 478
Dominick Wright (S1) 213 446
Haroon Ullah (S1) 207 379

Social Work
Gerald Funderburg (UP) 62 62

LSA Student Government Results:

Stu Wagner (S1) 1169 7930
Larry Fogel (S1) 1131 7783
Mike Rudin (S1) 1130 7638
Alyssa Miller (S1) 981 6064
Jessica Perkins (S1) 964 5994
Jeremy Oliver (S1) 970 5871
Breeanna Hare (S1) 902 5357
Alexis Bates (UP) 806 5251
Allison Gans (S1) 897 5238
Janu Lakshmanan (S1) 840 4841

Posted by Rob at 3:35 AM

Friday, November 21, 2003

More Partisanship

The National Students for Bush have decided to kick off their national re-election campaign for President Bush in Ann Arbor tomorrow before the U-M/Ohio State game:

"Come support our President, as we kickoff his campaign for his second term!

The National Students for Bush campaign has selected the UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN as the official site of the campaign kickoff. As such, we will be entertaining elected officials, and the SFB national campaign. But we need your help! If you sign up to volunteer to work at the event, we'll give the first 100 volunteers a free SFB Nat'l Kickoff T-Shirt, Hat or Football. All volunteers will get Tubby's for helping, and the opportunity to personally meet our VIP guests. This event is going to be huge, but only if you help make it a success!

WHEN: Saturday 9-11:30AM (Before the OSU football game)
WHERE: Elbel Field (Corner of S. Division & Hill Streets, on the way to the
WHO: You and 200 other U of M Republicans
WHY: Because we want the White House for 4 more years!

Contact: Steve MacGuidwin - - for more details or to sign up to volunteer!

PS - For those hardcore Republicans, we'll be going to gameday at 6AM. Email for more info."

Although the Democrats have caught wind:

"Let's Stop Students For Bush!!

This Saturday, before the OSU game, Students For Bush is having their NATIONAL kick-off. It's time to show them that Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan is NOT Bush country. In order to show our solidarity and strength on campus we do NOT need to protest, nor do we need to stop supporting our personal candidates in the primary. But we DO need to show up, in numbers, as Democrats, wearing shirts and handing out information. Our compassionate and progressive agenda will beat out their money anyday. So if you're interested tomorrow, before the game, in helping show that Ann Arbor is OUR ground, come meet tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the gate near elbel field. This is going to be a great opportunity to stop the Bush offensive at a very early stage, so please come out to have some Dems fun before a Wolverine victory!"

Posted by Rob at 5:21 PM

This is from an email sent to the College Republicans email list:

"The Michigan Daily is looking for conservative editorial writers. This could be a wonderful opportunity for the Republicans to balance out the Daily a little. Anyone interested should contact Jason Pesick at or Zachary Peskowitz at applicant should have some writing experience."

Posted by Rob at 5:18 PM

Thursday, November 20, 2003

A number of organizations are planning an "All-Campus Labor Rally" tomorrow:

"The All Campus Labor Council, a coalition of unions on campus, is holding a rally in front of the Fleming Building Thursday at 12:30 PM to urge the regents to stop the erosion of employee health care. Hundreds of U of M workers, students and teachers are gathering at the Cube to protest increased costs and a decrease in the quality of care. The rally will include speeches from Ken Chavez, a representative from the Skilled Trades Union, Dave Dobbie and Bella Muntz, members of the Graduate Employees Organization, Gina Soter from the Lecturer Employees Organization, Molly Haggerty from Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality and a representative from the Michigan Nurse’s Association.

The rally is being organized in response to University-wide cuts in employee in health care benefits increasing premiums. Indicative of these changes is the University’s plan to shift the cost of health care onto the shoulders of the graduate student employees by demanding that they pay premiums for the first time in 25 years. On January 1, 2003, University contracted out the graduate employees’ prescription drug benefit to Advance PCS, a change that has resulted in lower quality care and higher costs."

Posted by Rob at 2:05 AM

Maybe it's his experiences covering "real" government as the Daily's longtime government beat reporter before becoming editor-in-chief, or maybe because we lived in the same house for a year, but for whatever reason, I think Daily editor Louie Meizlish really hits the nail on the head in his column today about the Michigan Student Assembly:

"Louie Meizlish: The do-little assembly
November 20, 2003

With the mid-term elections for the Michigan Student Assembly approaching completion, perhaps it’s time for a brief history of campus politics and our illustrious student government.

March 2000. Hideki Tsutsumi, a student whose communications skills are otherwise less than stellar, campaigns for an entire year wearing a sandwich board and is elected MSA president. He is unable to control the raucous assembly meetings and frequently turns the gavel over to his vice president.

March 2001. Matt Nolan, a smooth-talking conservative masquerading as a center leftist, leads the Blue Party to a short-lived dominance on MSA and is elected president. As the public face of the student body, he speaks in support of affirmative action and works with the University to post signs at bus stops complete with maps of the various bus routes.

March 2002. Sarah Boot leads an anti-Blue coalition known as the Students First Party, composed of campus leftist as well as right-wingers disgusted with Nolan’s wishy washiness on social issues. As MSA president, Boot helps establish the airBus shuttle to Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

March 2003. Students First continues its dominance of MSA, this year with Angela Galardi as the elected leader. Galardi undergoes media training provided by the University and gives semi-impressive soundbytes to national media on the Diag when the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the affirmative action cases. AirBus continues its service.

Impressive, eh?

OK, maybe not.

Don’t get me wrong, MSA does do some things. One area in which it has performed admirably is the allocation of money to student groups, with virtually no controversy surrounding the $400,000 yearly appropriations to the groups.

Though often criticized or its long debates on “meaningless resolutions,” it’s hard to argue that a student assembly shouldn’t be voicing its sentiments on “non-student” issues, because, yes, even wars affect students.

But it could do more.

MSA’s problem, in fact, is it does small things and then touts them as huge achievements.

When he discovered that several seats were vacant on the Central Student Judiciary, there was the “student general counsel,” Jason Mironov, firing off a press release as if he’d struck oil in the Frieze Building. (Don’t worry, the vacancies have been filled and there’s more than enough “justices” for a quorum. And that means … I don’t know. Fair elections, maybe.)

But when the University decides to raise tuition by 6.5 percent — 3.5 percentage points higher than the inflation rate — do MSA representatives say anything? Nope. Not a peep.

It could establish a committee to analyze Mary Sue Coleman’s budget and look at the tuition increases, maybe invite University to officials testify why program X had to be cut, why the useless program Y saw its budget doubled, etc. Or maybe that’s too difficult.

Or when our oh-so-benevolent University revises the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities (I still call it “the Code”), saying it has granted students the right to legal representation at Code infraction hearings, just maybe MSA could pass a resolution blasting the University and then organize some sort of protest. At least MSA could do more than leave it to a former chair of the Student Rights Commission to speak up and say, well, it’s just not real legal representation when the lawyer can’t speak at the hearing — and then leave it at that.

Maybe rather than just sitting on search committees for new deans and appearing publicly with University officials to legitimize their actions, maybe MSA officials could make some noise once in a while and, dare I say, complain.

While cheap transportation to the airport is no doubt important to most out-of-state students, it’s hard to believe that running the airBus is all MSA is capable of.

Meizlish can be reached at

Posted by Rob at 1:58 AM

According to Dumi, these are the candidates for student government endorsed by the Black Student Union:

Katherine McGee (S1 MSA-Engin)
Paul Spurgeon (S1 MSA-LSA)
Laban King (S1 MSA-LSA)
Ashley Whitfield (S1 MSA-LSA)
Charles Adside (UP MSA-LSA)
Breeana Hare (S1 LSA-SG)
Jessica Perkins (S1 LSA-SG)

Posted by Rob at 1:33 AM

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Writer, activist, teacher, and scholar Angela Davis will be speaking on campus this Friday. See a bio here, or read about her recent book: "Are Prisons Obsolete?"

"The Women's Studies Program and the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan Present

The Vivian R. Shaw Lecture
Honoring the 30th anniversary of the Women's Studies Program

Angela Davis
How Gender Structures the Prison Industrial Complex

Friday, November 21, 2003
7:30 p.m.
Rackham Auditorium
University of Michigan
915 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor

Angela Davis, Professor in the History of Consciousness Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is internationally known for her efforts to combat all forms of oppression in the U.S. and abroad. Over the years she has been active as a student, teacher, writer, scholar, and activist. She is a living witness to the historic struggles of the contemporary era."

Posted by Rob at 11:37 PM

Did you hear many student government candidates discussing tenant issues? It must be because housing in Ann Arbor is reasonably priced, landlords are universally respectful, and everyone is getting their security deposits back without a hassle. Right. At least the Daily's editorial board hasn't forgotten about the AATU:

"On this administration's watch, a number of events have unfolded that should raise concern among students. The first of these was the death of the Ann Arbor Tenants Union. In the past, the AATU would help students resolve disputes with their landlords. It provided students with information about their landlords' legal obligations, encouraging students to understand their rights as tenants. There is no question that the program was valuable to students, but unfortunately, this year the University Board of Regents refused to implement a $1 increase in student fees meant to support the struggling organization. MSA's lack of clout with the administration and regents ultimately doomed the proposal. The University's administration can disregard students' opinions because of MSA's weakness." (From "MSA Missteps")

Posted by Rob at 11:05 PM

In case you didn't see today's Daily story on the election: "Candidates get personal"

Posted by Rob at 11:02 PM

The University is letting me teach a course next semester. Well, a seven week 1-credit mini-course for honors freshman, but a course nonetheless. It's titled "Student Activism and Social Change at the University of Michigan," and will be offered January 12 through March 8th. The class will meet on Mondays from 4-5 PM. If any visitors to this website know someone who might be interested, please pass the word along! Also, here's the PDF of a flyer I made to advertise the course.

Posted by Rob at 3:54 PM

The Students First Engineering candidate Pedro Perez-Cabezas is sending the following email, suggesting he supports a Pizza Hut or Taco Bell in Pierpont Commons:

"Date: Wed, 19 Nov 2003 13:59:58 -0500
From: pedromp
Reply-To: pedromp
Subject: Hey XXX , vote for me today/tommorrow

Hey XXX, support your fellow Engineer, Pedro Perez-Cabezas, and vote for me and my party members of Student's First as
representatives for MSA. I need your support in order to win. As representive I will support the initiative to pushback lease signing for off campus housing to a date later than December, more cean computer on central campus, more frequent busses with more room and better shelter at bus stops, and more food options at Pierpont Commons (the lease for McDonalds is almost over how does a taco bell/pizza hut sound?).

The voting website is

please vote for me, I need your help.
for information on my party visit"

Posted by Rob at 3:33 PM

"Land use has been a divisive issue in our state, but good land use decisions are also often good economic decisions for communities and businesses," Granholm said. "In order to make Michigan a magnet state for new business development and jobs, we must make a conscious effort to invest in our already existing infrastructure."

> From "Granholm signs executive order on land use" (via Brandon)

Posted by Rob at 12:12 AM

Of all the candidates running for an MSA-LSA seat, I am able to suggest voting for three: Ashwini Hardikar, Sam Woll, and Paul Spurgeon. As a reminder, only LSA students will be able to vote for them, and the polls will be open from now until Thursday midnight at

Ashwini Hardikar (Students first - ashwini)
"My name is Ashwini Hardikar, and I have devoted my life on campus to several progressive and social justice causes on campus. I am an intern at MARAL Pro-Choice Michigan, I am on fundraising exec board for the Vagina Monologues, and am a core member/public events coordinator of Amnesty International. I am also a core member of Students for Kucinich, and extremely involved with Students for Choice. I believe that MSA's purpose and potential is larger than simply funding student organizations, and to tell students that their political concerns don't matter to MSA is NOT an example of representative government. If elected, I would be a strong and forthright voice for the progressive activist community in MSA."

Sam Woll (Students First - swoll)
"Sam Woll hails from beautiful West Bloomfield, Mich., and upon arriving to Ann Arbor, she has immersed herself in various progressive causes. Whether it be volunteering at Detroit public schools or advocating for smart urban planning, Woll has always been conscious of how one can build a better community. While she's dabbled in architecture, philosophy and the social sciences, above all she has dedicated her time and study to the Jewish community.
Woll is a fan of the Greenbelt proposal and is also anti-sprawl. Her platform includes initiatives to improve Student-City relations and increase student voter registration as well as create shuttles for students to Detroit, MSU and Western on the weekends. She would also like to see additional lighting in off-campus student housing neighborhoods."

Paul Spurgeon (Students First - pspurgeo)

See S1 website

Posted by Rob at 12:03 AM

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

I've just sent a short questionaire to the 26 candidates for 9 open LSA representative seats on the Michigan Student Assembly. I'll post the results at about 11:00 PM tonight. Voting begins at 12 midnight. Here are the candidates:

Adam de Angeli: ( adeange ) Defend Affirmative Action Party
Monica R. Smith: ( monistar ) Defend Affirmative Action Party
Jessica Bratus: ( jbratus ) Defend Affirmative Action Party
Sarah Barnard: ( sbarnard ) Defend Affirmative Action Party
Angela Davis: ( davisan ) Defend Affirmative Action Party
Neal Lyons: ( lyonsn ) Defend Affirmative Action Party
Kate Stenvig: ( kstenvig ) Defend Affirmative Action Party
Cyril Cordor: ( ccordor ) Defend Affirmative Action Party
Jon Anderson: ( jonboyd ) Students First
Ashley L. Whitfield: ( ashlelau )Students First
Paul Spurgeon: ( pspurgeo ) Students First
Ashwini Hardikar: ( ashwini ) Students First
Sam Woll: ( swoll ) Students First
Chris Kang: ( chriskan ) Students First
Russell Garber: ( rudaga ) Students First
Laban J. King: ( ljking ) Students First
Paige Revelson: ( paigerev ) Students First
Joy Sheng: ( joysheng ) University Party
Alissa Prater: ( aprater ) University Party
Erica Levine: ( ellevine ) University Party
Cesarina Castellanos: ( castellc ) University Party
Greg Lavigne: ( gregwl ) University Party
Michael J. Moore: ( shibby ) University Party
Paul Teske: ( pteske ) University Party
David Koll: ( dkoll ) University Party
Charles Adside, III: ( adside ) University Party

Posted by Rob at 5:55 PM

"Less than a week after workers struck at Borders's downtown Ann Arbor, Mich., store, employees at one of country's major indies also went on strike.

Last Wednesday, more than 300 unionized workers at the seven Powell's Bookstore locations in Portland, Ore., went on strike to protest a slow down in contract negotiations. Powell's workers unionized in 1999 and joined the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 5; the union's first contract, negotiated in 2000, expired on October 1.

Approximately 385 employees are represented by the union out of a total of 494 employees.
Ryan Van Winkle, the union rep for Local 5, told PW Daily, "The median income for a Powell's employee is a hair over $11 per hour. But half of the employees are making less than that, and when you're making $9 an hour a 3% annual raise per year isn't a lot of money."

> From Publisher's Weekly: "Strike Two: Unionized Powell's Workers Hold One Day Walk-out"

Posted by Rob at 5:49 PM

So, I received this anonymously ...

"I think that it is quite obvious what Mr. Nolan is trying to achieve with his letter to the Daily. This statement of the the post-Nolan/Cash Michigan Student Assembly is as, if not more, tactical than Chelsea Clinton's grounbreaking Oxford-era interview with Talk magazine, which is a passive treatise on her stance on leadership and the future of American democracy. Hint, hint: Matt Nolan is running for President of the United States, or perhaps Muskegon County Commissioner at the least.

Consider this scenario. Mr. Nolan graduates from Michigan Law, with a respectable, but not necessarily superstellar academic record (hell, Michigan is better than Cooley Law School). He moves back to Muskegon in a few years to work at a local law firm. He marries his sweetheart, becomes a member of the local country club and is chair of fundraising committee for Muskegon's historic Victorian-era Hackley House museum. He even coaches his old high school chess club at Reeths Puffer High School on the weekends.

This lays the foundation for community networking and his first successful run for Muskegon County Commissioner at age 26. At the same time, he keeps in touch with his old boss, Rep. Pete Hoekstra and former Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus. They craft him for a state senate run and like a similar back-country legislative aspirant (i.e. John Engler), Mr. Nolan rises though the ranks in Lansing. He even becomes the Republican chief deputy whip, at age 29!

But Lansing is too small a town for Nolan. He has his sights set on Washington, his rightful place. Keeping in touch with his former MSA vice president Jessica Cash, now a mid-level legislative aide at the Small Business Administration, Cash lays his fundraising foundation for a House run, to take the spot of retiring Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R). Cash leaves the executive branch to go to full-time lobbying at the National Federation of Independent Business (which is actually a step down), so she has more time to work the fundraising avenues of Washington in her spare time, while he works Muskegon, Holland and Ludington for campaign cash.

He wins the race, and rises through the ranks of the House becoming Speaker DeLay's majority whip by the mid-2010s. Around 2025, while, he is in the running for the speakership after DeLay's eventual retirement, Nolan digs down to his inner feelings, and perhaps with a pinch of hubris, runs for Senate, challenging Debbie Stabenow, his old arch-nemesis ( Don't Forget Liberal Debbie!) and because of a nasty campaign plotted by Cash, Stabenow loses because of she has Parkinson's Disease, though it is curable by then. And because Nolan as DeLay's chief associate pushed a measure closing the Canadian border to all U.S. senior citizens, Stabenow couldn't get access to the life-saving Canadian drugs.

By 2035, his Senate career in full swing, Nolan plots a run for the presidency. And while doing a Google search, a reporter finds his letter on the Daily's website from 2003 laying out his frustrations with the Michigan Student Assembly and how his administration's achievements were destroyed by pesky student politicians who don't inhabit the true spirit of Wolverine leadership. He wins the presidency, single handedly stops the Israelis and Palestinians from fighting and world peace is achieved. Nolan's head replaces Roosevelt's in Mt. Rushmore and Pax American rules for the rest of time."

Posted by Rob at 5:13 PM

I've been nominated by the mayor to serve on Ann Arbor's "Cool Cities Task Force," according to the "current packet" available on the city's website. The other nominees are Eugene Yue-Hin Chan, an LSA student and a native of Canada who lives in West Quad, Brandt Coultas, who works for SNRE, engineering student Melissa Schulte, and Maureen English, who I couldn't find in the directory. I'm not sure who else is on the task force, or whether the nominations are approved, but membership was supposed to include: "one Pfizer employee, two University students, one artist, two downtown residents or businesspeople and three at-large residents." While I have some ideas how Ann Arbor could be more "cool" (affordable housing, better regional transit, more local businesses, smart growth ... how cool are these?!), I plan on encouraging the task force to hold a series of public meetings to gather ideas from various communities in the city - particularly from students.

Posted by Rob at 3:08 AM

The Daily covers the continuing Borders strike:

"The living wage in Ann Arbor is $10.40 without employee benefits and $9.45 with benefits, said Brad Bachelor, Borders bookseller and employee for three years. Currently, starting wages are $6.50 for cashiers and $7 for floor clerks at Borders, he added.

"We do get benefits at the moment but they have been scaled back," Bachelor said. “Since the union was formed about a year ago, (Borders) has put a lot of pressure on us to get us to quit. They tried to target union members and talk them out of joining."

> From "After first week of picketing, Borders strike at standstill"

And also debate at last night's city council meeting over a new, $100,000 traffic light on plymouth Road:

"... According to Kristine Abouzahr, spokeswoman for the Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor, leaders from the mosque have been trying to convince city officials to put in a traffic light at the junction since 1988. The Islamic Center was built in 1985.

"It hurts me deeply that the political capital that got us here had to be this tragic accident," she said. ...

> From "Council debates merit of traffic light at fatal crossing"

Posted by Rob at 3:00 AM

If you don't want to miss any of the campus intrigue in today's Daily, you better set aside some extra time: the newspaper is jammed with goodies. Yes, if Matt Nolan's name makes you retch, as it does many, you should be warned: MSA's attempt to patch up an oversight of the assembly to prepare for this week's election has turned personal, with Mr. Nolan weighing in to criticize the move. The Daily doesn't think it's important to note that the current MSA executives went to some effort to contact the existing justices. Why might Nolan have a better chance? That's right - they're his personal friends, some of whom lived in his hall freshman year. After all, Matt was serious about serving as MSA president, and he was sure to pack the court with his buddies to ensure his smooth election. But you're not supposed to know that.

In his lengthy, self-involved letter to the editor today, Matt Nolan demands to know what MSA has "done" since he left it in 2002. Yes, this is the Matt Nolan who consistently voted against resolutions in support of affirmative action, helped ram through a resolution "in support of the U.S.A." after we started bombing Afghanistan in 2001, did nothing to help students trying to encourage the University of use fair trade coffee, and certainly did little to help an energetic student named Neil Greenberg bring his dream of low-cost transportation to the airport for students into reality. Yes, that had to happen under the presidency of Sarah Boot. I also guess sending thousands of U-M students to D.C. was not really "doing" anything for students either.

But whether he was running up a tab of thousands of dollars of our student fees eating at the University Club or failing totally to understand part of his duty as MSA president was to represent a unique student point of view before both the Regents and the city, there can be one thing said about Matt Nolan: he took his job seriously. Yes, he helped push through fall break, improve the CCRB, and finally get the University to put up some bus signs, but under the Nolan administration tuition went up, the AATU was antagonized, and for many students MSA was made irrelevant by an executive who systematically denied the importance of their "political" interests, even though his administration would self-righteously advocate war. Yet despite it all, Matt Nolan did bring a seriousness to government that I couldn't deny. For good or for ill, he made it his life, and that alone seems worth recognizing. Now he should be quiet, and save us all from egoistic accounts of his past glory in the form of long-winded letters.

> See "Critics: Assembly's Actions Prohibited," and the Daily jamming the remainder of their election coverage into one story: "Polls open at midnight"

Posted by Rob at 2:43 AM

Monday, November 17, 2003

Michigamua Update

I have received anonymously a list of names of of Michigamua members I had not included in my directory of members. Before I add these people to my permanent page, I'm posting them here. I encourage anyone who thinks this data may not be accurate to contact me at rob(at) I've also added a photo to the Michigamua page, and am working on a project to post every member in that organization's 101-year history, minus the class selected last spring, or the "Pride of 2004," which I believe to be forthcoming.

PRIDE OF 2003:
Tyler Atkins - Dance Marathon - tatkins
LaVell Blanchard - Men's Basketball - blanchar
Tom Church - Army ROTC - tchurch
Anita Gupta - University Students Against Cancer - apgupta
Petra Juzwishin - Women's Crew - petramj
Rebecca Kramer - President UM Engineering Council - rkramer
Jed Ortmeyer - Men's Ice Hockey -jortmeye
John Spytek - Football - jspytek

PRIDE OF 2002:
Jeff Hopwood - Men's Swimming - jhopwood
Quentin Love - BGA, NSBE - qlove
Joe Young - Baseball -jfyoung

Posted by Rob at 8:46 PM

Blogger Nathan Newman has posted about the Borders strike. Also, see this forum on the union's website for a complete list of blog postings and news stories. Also, see my evolving list of solidarity bloggers.

Posted by Rob at 8:01 PM

Lots of action in the Ann Arbor News police blotter:

"Man tries to bribe doorman with pot

A man attempted to bribe a doorman at Studio Four over the weekend by offering him marijuana if he allowed him into the nightclub, then fought with employees and police officers when he was told to leave, Ann Arbor Police said.

The doorman at the club in the 300 block of South Fourth Avenue said he refused to let the 39-year-old man enter because he was so intoxicated, reports said. He said the man walked away, then returned with a bag of marijuana and asked if that would help him get inside, police said.

The doorman said he again refused entry, and the suspect tried to push past him and punched him in the chest, reports said. The doorman restrained the man until officers arrived. He also refused to comply with police, and was wrestled to the ground during the arrest, police said.

The man's blood alcohol level was 0.24 - three times the legal limit for drunken driving, police said. He was held until he was sober, and is expected to face charges of resisting arrest, assault and marijuana possession.

Restaurant manager stabbed by customer

The manager of a downtown Ann Arbor restaurant was stabbed in the neck by a customer with a pair of scissors Friday evening, city police said.

Employees of the Heidelburg Restaurant on North Main Street said the 39-year-old customer had been a problem in the business before, and entered for a pack of matches Friday, reports said. They said they gave him the matches, then were escorting him out when he suddenly pulled out the scissors and began stabbing the manager in the neck, reports said.

Witnesses grabbed the suspect and held him until police arrived, reports said. He was taken to the Washtenaw County Jail on felonious assault charges, and has a history of assaultive crimes and mental problems, police said.

The manager was taken to the University of Michigan Medical Center with non life-threatening injuries, police said.
Traffic stop yields large wad of cash

A routine traffic stop Saturday netted more than $8,500 cash and about $500 in property, which police seized under forfeiture laws, Ann Arbor Police said.

Four men in a Pontiac Grand Prix were stopped in the 300 block of Thompson Street, reports said. Police then discovered the driver was wanted on several warrants, reports said. ...

Posted by Rob at 7:25 PM

You may have noticed the Daily ran a front-page story about the emergency appointment of members to the Central Student Judiciary, so that the election results can be "verified" according to the all campus constitution, that allegedly organizes student government on campus. The Daily didn't seem to think it important to include was a list of the people who had been appointed - the only newly selected person they talk to is Collin McGlashen, who served as election director last spring. Here's a list of the appointments - I've listed their uniquenames, just add to email them:

Monica Dorman, Chief Justice
3rd Year Law Student

Brandon Carter
4th Year Literature, Science and Arts Student

Collin McGlashen
3rd Year Literature, Science and Arts Student

Harlyn Pacheco
3rd Year College of Engineering Student

Robert Goodspeed
4th Year Literature, Science and the Arts Student

Spencer Robinson
3rd Year Literature, Science and Arts Student

Steven Pietrangelo
4th Year Engineering Student

Jeffrey Turner
4th Year Kinesiology Student

Mina Zaki
3rd Year Literature, Science and Arts Student

Cassie Walls
3rd Year Engineering

Posted by Rob at 3:40 PM

The New York Times writes about eco-terrorism, including a group known as the Earth Liberation Front, which is suspected in four fires at new home construction sites in Superior Township and Washtenaw County in the past year.

"Although splinter groups and tiny, self-styled insurgencies abound, the radical fringe has come to be represented by two groups: the Earth Liberation Front, or E.L.F., and the corresponding Animal Liberation Front, or A.L.F., both claiming responsibility for a large number of recent incidents. And while their precise day-to-day links are difficult to trace, experts say both groups tend to organize in small cells, anonymous both to the public and to each another. College campuses are breeding grounds.
Rodney Coronado, 37, who was convicted in 1995 of setting fire to a Michigan State University animal research laboratory and spent four years in federal prison, put it this way in a phone interview: "There is a young, disempowered person who might feel alone fighting urban sprawl in their community, but now can do so under E.L.F."

His four years in prison were well worth it, Mr. Coronado insisted. "Sacrifice is something all movements have to be willing to make," he said.

Such attitudes horrify mainstream environmental groups.

"These people aren't environmentalists," said Carl Pope, the executive director of the Sierra Club, of the recent torchings of condominiums in San Diego. "They're arsonists."
(From "Enabling, and Disabling, Ecoterrorists")

Posted by Rob at 12:18 AM

The newly-opened Madras Masala, a South Indian restaurant that opened last June in a small storefront next door to Cafe Ambrosia on Maynard Street across from Nickel's Arcade has been generating some buzz. After posting a brief link to the Ann Arbor News about it in May, my website has recieved dozens of hits from people searching for the name, and it seems to do a brisk business these days. They've even launched a website. Although I've eaten there exactly once, and I'm certainly no expert in Indian food, I found their lunch buffet inexpensive and delicious, but I would suggest getting there before 2pm because some of the items had run out the day I attended. How many hits have I noticed for "FCB House of Flavors," another newly-opened business? You guessed it: none.

Posted by Rob at 12:02 AM

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Let the Partisan Bickering Begin

Anti-War Action! has issued a blanket endorsement of the Students First Party for this week's election, also available on their website. I'll be compiling all the endorsement/election emails I receive from various people and organizations on that page in the order I receive them this week, like I did last Winter. If you have anything you think I should include, please send it to me at rob(at)

Posted by Rob at 11:44 PM

Student Government Elections are November 19th and 20th

As you may know, the elections for student government at Michigan will be held this week, Wednesday 19 and 20th. The voting is conducted online throughout the 48-hour voting period through this website, which appears to be much-improved over previous years. The website now requires you to authenticate with your uniquename and password to review the voter information. Since there always seems to be confusion about who can vote, and for whom, I'll quickly explain how the process works. Also, the Daily has seemed to have dropped the ball: the only coverage of the student government election seems to be this column written by my friend Ari Paul about the University Party, and this story about last week's decision to limit soliciting in the dorms. Student government may seem petty and annoying, but it's an important principal, and MSA alone provides a variety of unique resources to students, whether they know or like it or not, among them student group funding, funding to subsidize student health insurance, AirBus, and Advice Online.

Who will you vote for? Every school or college at the University has at least one representative on the umbrella student government organization, the Michigan Student Assembly (MSA). The number of seats for each school is proportional to the size of the school, with the minimum of one. Students in the following schools will be voting for an MSA representative this Fall: Business, Dentistry, Engineering, LSA, Medical, Music, Nursing, Public Policy, Public Health, Rackham, Social Work. Some of the smaller schools which only have one representative (Such as Architecture) elect their representative in the Winter, since all representatives serve one-year terms.

In addition, three colleges have their own student governments, so students in those colleges will vote for both an MSA representative, and representatives for their college government. These three are LSA Student Government, the U-M Engineering Council, and "Rackham" students, which includes most humanities grad students, vote in the Rackham Student Government election. Finally, Residential College students will vote for people to serve them on the East Quad Governing Assembly, and engineers will elect their class officers.

Who's running for all these offices? Visit the voting website anytime to review a list of candidates and their bios, if they've submitted them.

What's all this business about parties? There are three active student political parties for the elections this fall. As far as I know, only the MSA and LSA-SG elections are "partisan." The only party that can be said to have a consistent ideology is DAAP, however since they are the political wing of BAM-N, they have something of a bad reputation, however there have been some DAAP candidates I have supported in the past. Students First and the University Party both basically lack any political ideology, seeking to do "stuff" for students to make our petty bourgeois lives that much easier. In general, however, Students First has run many more liberals, progressives, and students of color, and the University Party has had more conservatives. However, there are a number of notable exceptions: liberals in the U party, arch conservatives in Students First, so it makes generalizing difficult. To get a better idea of these parties, I suggest perusing a variety of endorsement emails send during the election last spring. Also, if you've been around a couple years, you know these parties have a tendancy to come and go, as a quick review of my page of past election results will show. Here are the party's websites, where you can find platforms, pictures, and bios of most candidates:

> Students First
> The University Party
> The Defend Affirmative Action Party

Why do I know all this? Because I served on MSA for a year an a half as the Student Rights Commission Chair and as an elected representative with the "University Democrats," even running that party's campaign one semester. I've also been notified that I've been appointed to the Central Student Judiciary, a body that exists theoretically as the judicial counterweight to MSA's legislative body. I say theoretically because the organization basically disintegrated in the past year, and does very little aside from settle disputes that arise during MSA elections and occasionally help sort out power struggles within student groups. It's an open secret that there is a fair amount of cheating in every MSA election, and in fact former MSA president Bram Elias's secret Michigamua nickname is "Won it by Computer Bias," since the party he founded (The Blue Party) was caught stealing uniquenames and passwords using a packet sniffer in a university computer lab. Because of the nature of the voting website at the time, the votes couldn't be "undone," and the people who had their data stolen were simply allowed to vote again. I've heard convincing circumstantial evidence that this sort of thing goes on every election, and as a CSJ justice if hear anything about cheating you better bet you'll hear about it.

Posted by Rob at 11:13 PM

I suppose it's that time of the year. Yes, when the State Street Area Association (I assume) drags out the Christmas reindeer holiday lights to string across State Street and Liberty Street along with the lighted sign reading "Season's Greetings." (See photo1, slightly blurry photo2)I have a few criticisms, the first being aesthetic. The stylized reindeer remind me of some sort of 1950s kitsch best left in the past. Perhaps they could invest in some new decorations?

Also, in a city widely reputed to be a bastion of "liberalism," secular humanism, and all sorts of other edgy, scary ideologies, you think they'd gotten beyond celebrating the holidays with imagery that means nothing to the city's Muslims, Jews, Wicca, or any Christian or otherwise who doesn't identify with the northern European Christian mythology surrounding St. Nicholas.

When I served on the Michigan Union Board of Representatives, (an advisory holdover from the days when the Michigan Union was actually run by students), there was a heated debate about the Union's annual Christmas decorations, which fill the hallways and common spaces with holly, evergreens, Christmas trees, and lights. I remember we came to the tentative conclusion they should explore a less explicitly Christian motif in the future, perhaps incorporating a variety of religious imagery within a general "winter" theme.

Posted by Rob at 10:37 PM

"Ann Arbor is really a suburb masquerading as a city."

Say two professors, Matthew D. Lassiter and Rick M. Hills, in a must-read "other voices" in the Ann Arbor News today titled "Time to Back up Greenbelt." They chastize the city for bowing to the wishes of NIMBY neighborhood associations, suggesting three changes in the city: 1) finally approve accessory apartments (or "granny/grad student flats") 2) change the zoning code to allow for the growth prevented by the greenbelt 3) change zoning laws to allow for increased density throughout the entire region.

" ... Right now, Ann Arbor is really a suburb masquerading as a city. Its overall residential density is about 3 dwelling units per acre, approximately the same ratio as the sprawling suburbs developed in Michigan during the 1980s and well below the state's first wave of post-1945 suburbs. The zoning code should be amended to require a density level of at least 5.5 dwellings per acre, roughly the ratio that existed in Michigan's cities before World War II.

Trying to prevent sprawl on the suburban fringe while maintaining Ann Arbor's low-density residential landscape is incompatible with a sustainable development approach to the metropolitan region. Refusing to accept any changes to the "character of our neighborhoods" is ultimately a short-sighted and self-defeating strategy that will accelerate the quality-of-life decline caused by traffic jams and pollution of the air and water.

The passage of the greenbelt must become the catalyst for a comprehensive reorientation of growth policies inside as well as outside the city limits. ... "

Posted by Rob at 3:52 PM

I was sent a link by JJW to a New York Times story about an effort to construct 2,000 condos in downtown Newark, NJ in an effort to "revitalize" the city. Haven't we learned this lesson before: purchasing and razing large areas of a city to construct new housing does little or nothing to help the city as a whole, and in fact only results in gentrification of the worst type, as the only people and businesses that can afford to rent space in brand-new buildings are the rich and corporate chains. Alas. Now, I wonder what would happen if the city of Newark took the city's $550 Million budget for the project and used it to improve city schools, provide low-interest loans for people to improve their houses or start small businesses, and set up a scholarship program for city residents interested in higher education?

"Deeming the project beneficial to a majority of Newark's 275,000 residents, the city began proceedings last winter to condemn the desired properties and turn them over to the developer. However, a grass roots campaign by a group of property owners known as the Mulberry Street Coalition convinced the City Council in May to rescind its condemnation vote. " (From the AP Story)

> NYTimes: "Newark sets out plan for urban village"
> Newsday: "Newark details controversial redevelopment plan"

Posted by Rob at 12:36 PM

Here's Ted Rall on the Unbearableness of Being Tom Friedman: "The Tao of Tom: Live it. Be it. Cash in on it."

Posted by Rob at 11:41 AM

The city council is ready to approve a new traffic light on Plymouth Road where two U-M students were struck and killed one week ago after leaving prayers at the Ann Arbor Islamic Center, although city council member Mike Reid is saying he needs "more information". I'm not sure what sort of problems Mr. Reid anticipates, since it seems the city has been considering a traffic light on Plymouth for some time. However on at least one thing he's right: the "problem" isn't limited to one place - pedestrians are endangered crossing Plymouth at a number of locations near North Campus, not just in front of the Islamic Center.

"A traffic light is needed on Plymouth Road where two women were struck by a truck and killed earlier this week, Ann Arbor city officials say. But some City Council members say that without more information, they may not be ready to approve it on Monday.

Council Member Mike Reid, R-2nd Ward, and Mayor John Hieftje said the council has to be careful it doesn't create a bigger problem with the proposed solution.

"I don't want to respond to a single event and create a more dangerous situation somewhere else," Reid said. "I know it will make it safer at that location, but 300 yards away does it create an even worse situation? I don't know the answer to that."
Groome said the city has evaluated traffic in front of the center for years and has more than enough information to make a decision.

"I think this has been looked at," she said. Groome said the Muslim Community Association has asked the city for years to do something about the traffic concerns. "It was needed then, clearly it is needed even more now."

> From AANews: "Reid: More data needed before new light is OK'd"

Posted by Rob at 11:05 AM

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Apparently Urban Planning graduate students are a feisty bunch. According to Murph, after University Party member and MSA's Architecture and Urban Planning representative Tristan deBarros sent an email to all the urban planning students asking them to email all the student government representatives in support of a resolution that would seek to install a Taco Bell in Pierpont Commons, "Now, he, the MSA e-mail list, and the UP students list are all getting bombarded as every single UP student weighs in on why inviting Taco Bell is such a bad idea." Hopefully Mr. deBarros was reading the responses, since there's plenty of great reasons not to support a Taco Bell.

Of course, the whole process was made possible by the nature of Pierpont: there's only a few spaces available for food vendors. If the University constructs a "street," as suggested by planning professors and students in their "North Campus Redux" report (overview) there might actually be space for more than one restaurant, or the rents might be reasonable enough so that a small business could compete with a gigantic corporation, which can cut costs so much they can theoretically make profits serving fewer customers than a local business. Yes, the market exists, but no, it doesn't always perfectly reflect what people "want."

> See an email circulating opposing the Taco Bell proposal
> Read about the University Party proposal

Posted by Rob at 2:08 PM

In a letter to the Borders Group CEO Gregory P. Josefowicz last year, a group of professors, activists, book publishers, and intellectuals criticized a new policy which, they alleged, would reduce the variety of books avaliable in their stores, and squeeze out books published by small companies:

" ... Denied shelf space in a major outlet like Borders, smaller publishing houses will be hard pressed to survive. The Kremlin would have found it difficult to invent a more subtle and effective way of suppressing original viewpoints and ideas.

Books are not just another consumer product. They form much of our society's repository of ideas; they are the bloodstream for the life of the mind. You have a responsibility to serve as well as to gain, for your books have the protection of the First Amendment. If you were not ready to accept this responsibility, then we cannot imagine why you would have entered the book business to begin with. There are many other things to sell. ... "

Posted by Rob at 1:30 PM

Here's a nice photo essay about Portland, Oregon. It's a bit simplistic, but gives you a good idea what people mean when they say "New Urbanism." The link was sent to me by my friend Ben King, known on this website's comments as "Ben." He's started a blog called "The Dread Pirate King."

Posted by Rob at 12:21 PM

Friday, November 14, 2003

Attention Geeks
This website now has an RSS feed.

Posted by Rob at 11:59 PM

I've begun a books blog to replace my old "Books" section, which links to This is a work in progress, but feel free to leave suggestions of books I should include in the comments.

Posted by Rob at 4:44 PM

Former MSA Vice-President and my friend Jim Secreto has returned to China (he spent last year teaching english and avoiding SARS) to work for an environmental NGO. This time, he's set up a blog for friends and family: "chopsticks are fun" And although he's since returned to Ann Arbor, former Daily editor and U-M grad Josh Wickerham maintained this website, during his time in China, which ended last April.

Posted by Rob at 12:12 PM

In a letter to the Daily, associate provost James Hilton responds to GEO's threat to conduct a grade strike in response to cuts in benefits:

"I am disturbed that any member of our instructional staff would talk about withholding grades from students. In fact, the withholding of grades or other services by members of GEO would be a clear violation of their contract. I hope GEO will continue to follow the process for handling its concerns that is laid out by the current contract."

Also, RHA has voted to enforce their rules about student government campaigning in the residence halls: no more than three per party and one independent in each dorm at one time. The rule has always existed, but has never been enforced well- I'm not sure how they plan on policing activity this time around.

Finally, BAM-N seems to have shown up at a College Republicans even to debate affirmative action.

Posted by Rob at 12:02 PM

Voting is tricky business, even in Ann Arbor, it seems:
" Ann Arbor's greenbelt proposal won in the Nov. 4 election by an even greater margin than initially reported. The official vote count was 14,525 for and 7,037 against. That's one more "yes" vote than reported the night of the election, but 233 fewer "no" votes than reported. The city Board of Canvassers certified the final election results Monday. City Clerk Kathleen Root said a mathematical error in one precinct accounted for all 233 extra votes."

Meanwhile, the mini-controversy over the death of two U-M students on Plymouth road, with some members of the Muslim community insisting the community center's video shows the truck that struck the students speeding and hit them in the center turn lane. Here's part of today's Ann Arbor News story, "Video of crash under review":

"Abdalla Naser, president-elect of the Muslim Community Association, repeated his contention Wednesday that the police department's version of what happened is incorrect.

"It happens to incidentally capture the incident off in the distance with very, very poor resolution," said Ann Arbor Police Chief Dan Oates. "It has video recording technology that has split-second gaps in it. It is one piece in a whole body of evidence we are investigating."

Oates said the most important evidence from the tape is that the driver had his headlights on and that his brake lights were also working.

Naser saw the videotape on Sunday night and turned it over to police. Based on what he saw, he said, the truck appeared to be speeding and the women were standing in the center lane when hit and killed. Naser said he still believes the driver, a 22-year-old man from Newport, near Monroe, should face criminal charges."

Complicating all of this, is the fact the girls were returning from prayers, helping make the deaths a top story in their native Malaysia:

"You had just come back from prayers," Hashim said. "That is God's way of taking your life when you are still basically pure. I'm sure Americans probably won't understand this. It is the holy month of Ramadan. It's not like they just got back from the disco. These were good girls. They were best friends. They just came back from the mosque and prayers and they were struck down."

Posted by Rob at 10:49 AM

Thursday, November 13, 2003

The striking Borders workers and supporters are planning a rally for 5 PM tomorrow:

"Its getting cold out but the picketline is hot!

SOLE members have been out on the Borders picketline everyday since the srike started last Saturday. We are making progress. The Borders boycott has been quite effective. We turn away dozens of people from shopping at Borders during every picket shift.

This Friday, Nov. 13 @ 5PM at the Liberty Street Borders
Come join the Borders Workers Union, SOLE and Borders Readers United in a rally to support Borders workers' demand for a fair contract and a living wage!"

Posted by Rob at 10:58 PM

Care for a couple tomaccos?

"The tomacco episode also resonated with Baur because he's not a big fan of the tobacco industry. His mother, a lifetime smoker, died of lung cancer. His father, who also smoked all his life, had one lung removed and later died of colon cancer. Baur also lost an uncle to lung cancer.

"It really showed big tobacco for what it is, and the ridiculousness of this stuff that tastes bad, but then you're addicted to it, and the lengths people will go to get it," he said.

In the episode, Bart Simpson says, "It's smooth and mild -- and refreshingly addictive," when he eats tomacco. Another scene shows Ralph taking a bite of a tomacco. "Oh, daddy, this tastes like grandma!" he says."
(See this Wired story) (Thanks for the link Ben)

Posted by Rob at 10:29 PM

The Michigan State Senate has passed a bill that would increase the maximum punishment for a MIP offense to jail time: "Senate votes to include jail time for underaged drinking." For the bill to become law the state house must also vote on it, and pass it on to Granholm for her signature.

Posted by Rob at 10:54 AM

"As a former manager and clerk at the downtown Borders, I am in a good position to provide some of the perspective Craig Matteson’s letter, Editorial unfounded, Borders employees should not strike (11/11/03), finds lacking in the Daily’s editorial, Borders patrol (11/06/03). Although he doesn’t specify which of the union’s actions remind him of “the counterproductive attacks which marked union negotiations in the recent past,” a look at the long-term deterioration of wages and working conditions at the store may clarify the issues that prompted the strike.

When I started at Borders in 1991, the starting wage was $6 per hour with semi-annual raises (usually totaling 6 percent), quarterly profit-sharing checks (usually the equivalent of two weeks’ pay), 12 personal days and seven paid holidays a year, two weeks paid vacation and a good health benefits package. This compensation model encouraged people to stay and master the craft of bookselling; the company’s commitment to its employees helped Borders become one of the best and most profitable independent bookstores in the world.

In 2003, the starting wage is $6.50 per hour with one raise a year (usually about three percent), the number of personal days has dropped to nine and profit-sharing is but a distant memory. Workers routinely take a second (or third) job to make ends meet. I doubt executive compensation packages have suffered similar erosion. By way of comparison, Chief Executive Officer Greg Josephowicz makes approximately $586 per hour. ... "

> From Charlie Murphy's viewpoint: "Borders not the responsible company it used to be", see also the Daily's editorial today: "Holding Firm: continued support required in Borders' strike"

Also, a letter writer in today's Daily says she was "sickened" to hear about Mary Sue Coleman's record salary, concluding "I’m afraid that hearing that “we all have to suffer in these tough times” from people that make exorbitant amounts of money rings completely hollow to my ears."

See also: "Blasting Bush: Krugman discusses Bush Administration, new book"

Posted by Rob at 10:48 AM

It seems farmers are rather pleased that Ann Arbor approved the greenbelt proposal:

"... The greenbelt program, approved 2 to 1 this month by Ann Arbor voters, has been all the talk among many in the farming community. Barry Lonik, a land preservation consultant who assisted in forming the proposal, said he's been in contact with several farmers who have expressed interest.

Gil Whitney is a retired farmer who owns close to 200 acres in Webster Township. He said he's glad the proposal passed and thinks it will provide many farmers like himself "another option" in managing the future of their land.

"As a farmer, I am really thankful for the way this actually happened," Lesser said. "We've been working from the farmer's end to try to encourage this sort of thing in the county."

Lesser said many such programs, including one in Peninsula Township near Traverse City, have been successful and have a constant stream of applicants.

"So there's plenty of interest in the county for something like this," he said. "The fact is wherever these programs are in effect and working there are always more people applying than there are funds." "

> AANews: "Plan gives farmers options"

Posted by Rob at 1:13 AM

I've been asked to post this by chair of the U-M College Libertarians Dan Sheill. The Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Nolan will speak on campus in one week one Wednesday, November 19 at 9:00 PM in Room D of the Michigan League.

Posted by Rob at 1:07 AM

Is it just me, or does this seem worthy of more than one paragraph in the "In Brief" section?

"U-M's Ginsburg wins heart research prize

The American Heart Association has awarded one of its highest accolades, the Basic Research Prize, to David Ginsburg, University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute researcher and internal medicine and genetics professor, for discovering the molecular genetic defects causing major bleeding disorders. "

Posted by Rob at 1:05 AM

Student Ghetto Break-ins seem to have slowed lately, but not quite gone away:

"1000 block of Oakland Avenue, 11:48 p.m. Tuesday. Entry gained through unlocked door; a laptop computer, web camera and digital camera taken. Total $2,550."

Posted by Rob at 1:03 AM is hosting something called the "Borders Readers United Mobile Blog" where users can send in photos related to the Borders' employees strike from their digital camera. This could get interesting.

Posted by Rob at 1:00 AM

This email is being circulated by some political campus organizations:

"URGENT ACTION NOW! Yo no quiero Taco Bell!

Email MSA and tell them you'll take human dignity over a chalupa!

Across the country, labor and farmworker activists have been taking part in a Taco Bell boycott in response to Taco Bell's use of veritable slave labor. According to the Dept. of Labor, the workers that pick Taco Bell tomatoes make an average wage of 40 cents per 32-pound bucket, a number hasn't changed in more than 20 years. This number translates to wages so substandard that they are comparable to slave labor. United Students Against Sweatshops, of which SOLE is an affiliate, is a part of the nationwide Boot the Bell campaign, which has booted Taco Bell from 17 campuses, including Notre Dame, Duke, UPenn and Central Michigan University. The boycott is endorsed by everyone from Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich and Howard Zinn to the American Friends Service Committee, the National Council of Churches and the National Lawyers Guild.

On Tuesday, Nov. 18, the Michigan Student Assembly will be voting on a resolution that requests that a Taco Bell specifically be the new restaurant in Pierpont Commons. That's right-while student activists across the country fight to "boot the Bell", we at Michigan may actually invite them in!

What can you do?

#1-Email now and tell them that human rights matter to Michigan students and we will not invite Taco Bell to our campus!

#2-Show up at MSA chambers, 3rd floor union, Tuesday 11/18 at 7:30 pm.

for more information, check out: Coalition of Immokalee Workers website"

Posted by Rob at 12:54 AM

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Commonmonkeyflower's posts on the Borders strike are available at this one easy link, including some great recent posts on the issue of the "living wage." Also, Raygun Gothic has created a special "Borders Strike Roundup" Page, and some (slightly older) other blogger's posts.

Walking by Border's today I ran into an acquaintance of mine and her friend who had come to a dead stop at the sight of the picket line. They said they needed to buy a video as a gift, and although they didn't want to cross the picket line, didn't know where else they could go to buy a movie without a car. Although I'm not sure what they did, I suggested they ask the strikers. Does anyone know any place downtown they could have gone?

Posted by Rob at 2:56 PM

Reminder: Paul Krugman will speak on campus tonight at 8:00 PM. This from the Ann Arbor Committee for Peace, a co-sponsor of the event:

"PAUL KRUGMAN speaks TONIGHT, Wed. Nov. 12, 8 pm
Schorling Auditorium, Room 1202 U-M School of Education Bldg.
610 E. University (between S. University and Hill St.)
The auditorium is on the first floor, on the west side of the building.

Booksigning, with books provided by Shaman Drum, to follow.

This event is being presented by the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace, the U-M Residential College, and Anti-War Action!

Come early! All indications are that we will have a full house. Paul Krugman’s talk at the Ann Arbor District Library last night was jam-packed and at least 100 people were turned away.

The Schorling Auditorium holds 200 people. We’ve also made arrangements for a P.A. system to be placed in the hallway, so an overflow crowd can still hear the talk."

Posted by Rob at 9:33 AM

Ari Paul takes on student government politics and the Borders strike in his column today, titled "Hey, little rich boy." Interested in how every member of student government voted on the failed Borders resolution? See my entry here.

"Have you ever had to work? Have you ever had to earn your own way to pay any fraction of the food and beer you consume or the exorbitant cost of college tuition? If so, the University Party, the current minority party in the Michigan Student Assembly, doesn’t want to represent you.

I don’t purport to be working class, but even still, I’ve worked as a pizza delivery driver, a painter, a reporter, a salesman and a dishwasher to come out financially comfortable at the end of the month at various points in my life, and I’ve known very few students who haven’t needed supplementary income in addition to their parents’ dole cue to meet the cost of everyday life, let alone the cost of higher education.

But I’m starting to think that the members of the U Party are the lucky few that didn’t have to do any of this.

The U Party touts itself as a voice of neutrality, sweeping aside anything political in MSA in order to pass resolutions that affect students, like expanding the spending power of the Mcard. Of course, the issue of lowering tuition is noticeably absent from its platform.

Last week, MSA was presented with a resolution to support the on-strike workers at the Liberty Street Borders, and U Party representatives with the help of sympathetic Students First anti-worker representatives like Brad Sugar, defeated it.

Again, the U Party reps flaunted their rhetoric in opposition to this resolution, only trying to pathetically hide the fact that it has more of a political agenda than the relatively ideology-less Students First Party.


But some U Party members don’t think that such peasants have a right to an education in the first place.

Joel Stone, a U Party representative voting against the resolution said, according to the official MSA minutes, that students “need to take into consideration the cost of attending college and if you can’t afford it then you need to make another choice.”

That’s right, folks. All you kids who don’t come from rich suburbs and are on student loans can just forget about higher education and upward mobility. But I’m sure there’s an opening to be Joel Stone’s shoeshine boy.

“Oh but we’re not elitists,” they’ll cry, “we’re just wary of those thuggish, pesky labor unions.” ... "

Posted by Rob at 9:29 AM

Two Metro Detroit students have been charged with "hacking" after accessing a Kohl's computer via an unsecured wireless internet connection. While I don't know the details, it occurs to me that Kohls should have secured their internet connection.

"Paul Timmins, 22, and Adam Botbyl, 20, may have been engaged in "wardriving," or cruising around with a specially equipped laptop and an antenna searching for unsecured wireless networks hooked to the Internet."

> AP: "Oakland County men charged with hacking store system"

Posted by Rob at 1:09 AM

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Correction: The Daily misspelled his name - "Craig Matteson" is a U-M alumnus. However, I still disagree with his logic - there's at least one profitable and unionized bookstore.

Posted by Rob at 6:25 PM

It's late notice, but the "Tell us the Truth Tour" is coming to the Royal Oak Theater tonight at 8:00 PM.

Posted by Rob at 6:16 PM

Some recent developments in the case of the two U-M students killed last weekend trying to cross Plymouth Road:

> AANews: "Muslim leader disputes account of fatal accident", "Deaths spur review of road"

> Daily: "Accident prompts petition for traffic light on Plymouth Road"

Posted by Rob at 4:57 PM

Although for whatever reason a campus-wide email advertising MSA's Airbus service to Detroit Metro Airport for Thanksgiving Break hasn't been sent yet, tickets are avaliable now from the Michigan Union Ticket Office. The service costs $8 one-way, or $13 round-trip, and has stops on North Campus, the Hill, and Central Campus and both terminals at DTW. Trips are scheduled to go from Ann Arbor to the airport on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 25, 26, and a number of trips back to campus on Sunday, November 30. See the Airbus website for more information.

Posted by Rob at 4:51 PM

NOTE: It's been drawn to my attention that the name of the letter writer was most likely misspelled. I am leaving the following for the the sake of honesty.

Calling Mr. Bennet

Something's fishy on the editorial page today - a letter from a Mr. "Craig Mattesonch," who claims to be an "Alum." In the letter, Mr. "Mattesonch" writes the following:

"When I was a teenager, I used to drive to downtown Ann Arbor to buy books that I could not get at home. There was no or Barnes and Noble. Nowadays the retail book environment is extremely competitive. Customers are very price conscious and expect discounts. Borders's net income is only 3.2 percent of sales and was only 2.6 percent the year before.

Employees should realize that a union cannot negotiate away competitive realities. If Borders were to let its cost structure get out of line with its industry they will become uncompetitive and eventually fail. We have all watched favorite independent stores evaporate. They disappeared because you and I preferred the discounts the larger chains and online sellers were able to offer. It is our buying habits that decide which stores survive and which do not. These are market realities that every retail company must face or they must die. The cost of labor is one of those realities

Frankly, I have done work with Borders and know for a fact that it is most concerned with giving a voice to their employees. I know it has worked very hard to learn what matters most to every employee and to create a compensation package and a work environment that is optimal for the employees within the competitive realities of the marketplace. Borders works to continue to improve its offering.

We should all want to keep this great Ann Arbor institution competitive and growing.

Well, at least he admits having "done work with Borders," but how in earth would anyone know that Borders "net income was 3.2% of sales," let alone the figure for year before, and not work in the corporate headquarters? I think this letter was sent in with a fraudulent name by the Borders corporation, or a union-busting law firm and consulting firm they have hired. The whole thing smacks of propaganda and emotional manipulation: it tries to wrap Borders' history in a shroud of hometown nostalgia ("when I was a teenager"), and suggest that bookselling might leave Ann Arbor in the same way auto plants left Detroit. Such allegations are lies, and seek to manipulate the emotions of the public and confuse the situation: Borders, which made over $100 Million in profits last year, is an extremely profitable corporation and could easily pay their employees a living wage. Also, creating a union to advocate on behalf of your interests is a basic constitutional right with a long history in America, while sending fraudulent letters to the editor in a pathetic attempt to turn public opinion against striking employees is unethical and wrong, although also in a long tradition of vicious American strikebreaking.

How am I so sure that this "Craig Mattesonch" doesn't exist? He's not in the University of Michigan online directory, and a quick google search for just his last name comes up with zero responses. In fact, according to AT&T's (Which includes every publicly listed telephone number in America) there are no persons with a listed telephone number and the last name "Mattesonch" in the state of Michigan. (Or California, New York, or any other state I checked, for that matter.) Sure, there's the possibility that the Daily misspelled his name, but I think the letter alone provides enough evidence to conclude it was written as part of a calculated campaign to discredit the employees.

The responsibility of making sure letter authors actually exists falls with the editors of the Michigan Daily. They should consider requiring letter writers include a telephone number, and calling the number before printing the letter. (The Ann Arbor News has such a policy.) At the very least, they should do a little investigating when a letter as suspicious as the one above comes to their inbox. And at this point, they should email back this person and ask them if they really are an "Alum," and to disclose whether they are being paid by Borders, and if so, he issue deserves nothing less than large correction and full news story: 'Borders' management pens fake letter.'

Posted by Rob at 11:00 AM

"Labor protesters amicably shared the sidewalk with upbeat book lovers and music fans as two new downtown attractions -- a Borders Books & Music store and a Hard Rock Cafe -- opened Monday at Compuware's headquarters.

About 20 representatives from the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 876, AFL-CIO, in Madison Heights stood in front of the bookstore, next door to Hard Rock, carrying signs and handing out fliers explaining their actions.

The union represents workers at Borders' downtown Ann Arbor store, which went on strike Saturday demanding higher wages and better benefits at that location, one of two unionized stores nationwide. The average Borders worker at the Ann Arbor store makes about $8.50 per hour, union officials said. ..."

> From DetNews: "Detroit is upbeat over Hard Rock"

Posted by Rob at 10:32 AM

Ever considered the totality of your existence?

" ... Despite the growing violence, Mexicans say they will keep coming for a better life even if it means losing their lives on the chance. Take Jose G. Piña and his entourage, who were standing in Agua Prieta having just been deported by the Americans and waiting for their wives to be released. These peasant farmers fled Guanajuato, a state in central Mexico, when it became apparent that the spring floods had destroyed their land.

Early Wednesday morning, in the bright light of the moon, these seven men and five women struck out on their own across the mountains. An hour into the walk, two bandits with pistols stepped out from the bush and robbed them of everything: $3,000.

"At least they didn't touch the women," said Mr. Piña, an erect and regal man in an oily cap.

Word of the highway gun battle reached him while he spent the evening in a detention cell, where he said, he was treated well and with respect by the American authorities.

The trip used to be so easy, Mr. Piña said. He has made it at least 30 times. "It's so much more difficult now," he said. "There are 100 percent more bandits and criminals out there. It's a new profession. They rape women and take children."

He took a drag on an American cigarette as he considered the totality of his existence, and waited for his wife so that they could try the journey again.

"It's a sad thing," he said. "It's hard enough, this life."

> From NYTimes: "After crossing, Danger to Migrants Isn't Over"

Posted by Rob at 12:46 AM

Monday, November 10, 2003

After November 24, not only will Americans be able to switch between cell phone carriers and keep the same number, they'll be able to switch from a regular telephone to a cell phone as well.

Posted by Rob at 10:34 PM

As usual, I'm a bit behind on this one, but worth posting nonetheless:

"... But all I had my eyes opened to was the fact that Ann Arbor isn't all that it's cracked up to be. It's too liberal, too expensive and too phony. It's a small town that masquerades as the ultra-hip center of the universe — or at least the Midwest. Ann Arbor struts with the arrogance of New York but lacks the history, culture and importance to back it up.

Recent times have only lowered my opinion of Ann Arbor. The city is plagued by a seemingly perpetual string of burglaries — one of which I had the honor of experiencing firsthand last year when a couple of brilliant high schoolers broke into our house when my housemates and I were all home — and assaults, some of them taking place in conspicuous locations in the hours of the afternoon and early evening. An ever-growing homeless population is treated like dirt and responds with rudeness and vulgarity (except for the nice man who hangs out at Nickels Arcade and under the Arch — God bless you, too, sir). Housing gets more and more expensive every year as the already decrepit apartments and houses get older and older.

The worst part of the situation is that the majority of Ann Arborites are happily oblivious to the city's inferiority. They pretentiously carry on thinking their city is the second coming of New York. But this isn't New York, and it never will be. ... "

> From the Joel Hoard's column: "Ann Arbor: A nicer place to be?"

While interesting, I must say I disagree that the problem with Ann Arbor is a lack of "niceness," or being "too liberal." I believe any place where there are lots of strangers, whether a University town or large city, there will be fewer friendly hellos since fewer people actually know eachother, and more are new to the place.

To me, the issue with Ann Arbor is certainly the attitude: while the city thinks itself liberal, their idea of helping out the homeless is spending millions on a new shelter that won't have any more beds than the old. Many live in fear of students, keeping them politically and legally (through zoning) limited to neighborhoods around campus, and shut out of city government. And, while "conservative" Grand Rapids has embraced an ideology of "smart growth" in the 1990s, it is only in 2003 after a hard-fought political battle can a meagre anti-sprawl stopgap be put in place to slow sprawl here in Ann Arbor, where most live in ugly sprawl and drive to the (non-union) Whole Foods to buy their groceries. And think you'd like to build a building taller than 6 or 7 stories in most places downtown? Good luck: Ann Arbor's worried about losing that "European" flavor. (Or should I say flavour?) To top it all off, nary a peep is heard from the city's ruling elite when the Technology Center, an old warehouse home to much of what Ann Arbor could rightfully call its culture, was purchased and razed to make room for a new YMCA last summer. Lest I sound too pessimistic, I'll be clear: Ann Arbor is certainly a nicer place to live than many places in Michigan, it's not six square miles of heaven, either.

Posted by Rob at 10:12 PM

Here's an interesting comment I found on Ann Arbor is Overrated:

" ... I walked by there today: It was "The elegant way to pronounce chocolate is Schockolad." What do I win? A job that allows me to put my UM BA to use? With benefits and more than $7/hour pay? Thanks. ...speaking of which, for the 2nd time in 3 days Borders has called me for an interview (I didn't answer)... they must be desperate for scabs because I was honest about my qualms with corporate bookstores during the job fair mini-interview."

Posted by Rob at 9:54 PM

Publishers' Weekly becomes the only major mainstream media outlet not based in Ann Arbor to cover the Borders' strike in a story last Friday. However, it doesn't seem to contain any original reporting: they instead quote from the Ann Arbor News, the Michigan Daily, and even

> "Borders Home Office Lays Off 12; Ann Arbor Store to Strike"

Posted by Rob at 4:22 PM

The University has selected four candidates to compete for one or more of the prestigious Rhodes, Marshall or Mitchell Scholarship Programs: Raj Gupta, Johanna Hanink, Clair Morrissey, and Jessica Szczygiel. The University Record story, "Four students compete for prestigious scholarships," seems to suggest the University believes certain communities are underrepresented in the selection process in place here on campus:

"Adams says the council plans to increase and broaden the pool of candidates, noting that there is extraordinary leadership ability among students in all areas of the University.

"For example, we have talked with Bill Martin about extending our outreach to student athletes, and plan to hold similar conversations with such leadership-rich organizations as the [Michigan] Daily, the ROTC programs and community volunteer groups. Certainly academic achievement is part of the picture for success in a competition like the Rhodes, but so is strong evidence of leadership. Not all students are aware of this, so we want to spread the word," Adams says."

Posted by Rob at 4:02 PM

Well, it's official: U-M President Mary Sue Coleman is the nation's highest-paid university president:

"Mary Sue Coleman, who became president of the University of Michigan in August 2002, will get $677,500 this academic year, making her the highest-paid president of a public university. Just over a quarter of the public university presidents were paid more than $400,000, the survey found." (NYTimes)

See also: AANews: "U-M's coleman tops pay list"

Posted by Rob at 3:55 PM

" ... Much to the dismay of many picketers, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr crossed the picket line on Saturday, said Irfan Nooruddin, a former Graduate Employees Organization member and supporter of the strike.

"I'm a longtime Michigan football fan … I always believed Lloyd Carr really believed in teaching young people about principles and values. I was raised to believe that crossing a picket line was morally wrong, and I'm disappointed that he was able to do it so easily this morning," Nooruddin said."
(From the Daily story)

Posted by Rob at 11:58 AM

University Party leader and MSA representative Bobby Counihan has introduced a resolution to be considered by the U-M student government that would call for a Taco Bell on campus, which was a key platform item of that party in the spring elections. (Although they have wisely chosen to remove it for this November's election.)

I guess it doesn't matter to him that a boycott of Taco Bell has been endorsed by The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the National Council of Churches of Christ, and the American Friends Service Committee, and the powerful United Church of Christ, in addition to a broad array of other civic and labor organizations, including the workers themselves.

On a related note, the Students First Party has also updated their website in time for the elections coming up November 19 and 20, however neither party make mention of increased enrollment of minority students or cutting tuition on their platforms. I guess that means they don't think those things are important.

Posted by Rob at 11:29 AM

According to the Borders Readers United Blog, employees at Burger King told union members their starting wage was higher than Borders', even though Burger King only requires a high school diploma.

Posted by Rob at 11:05 AM

Why did I ask the city council candidates how they'd make the city more pedestrian friendly? In a word: death. Two students were killed trying to cross Plymouth Road over the weekend to return to North Campus. Many students cross Plyouth in this area to get to the Ann Arbor Islamic Center, or to Kroger. The city should install either a pedestrian bridge, or crosswalk with a median.

> "Truck Kills 2 U-M Students"

Also: "Gunman holds up State Street Bagel shop"

Posted by Rob at 11:00 AM

> 11/13: Ravings of a Graduate Student
> 11/11 Hillary Blough: The Bunker
> 11/22 Nathan Newman

Borders Workers' Solidarity Bloggers:

> Bob Goodsell
> Vacuum
> Raygun Gothic
> Pragmatic Progressive
> Mouse Musings
> Join this list!

And you know you've hit the big time when you're on the World Socialist Website!

> WSWS: "Borders workers strike in Ann Arbor"
> Michigan Daily: "Borders workers strike for better pay, benefits"

In other news:
> Borders, Hardrock Cafe open in Downtown Detroit

Posted by Rob at 10:45 AM

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Domino's CEO David Brandon, also a U-M Regent who leads the group on my list of the Regent's political giving with his generous donations to a wide variety of conservative causes and candidates has announced he'll continue to lead that company. The AP story is good, but they seem to be a little confused, saying: "Brandon doesn't rule out a run for office someday." Elected on a statewide basis to operate what is legally an independent branch of state government, isn't serving as University Regent a public office? It also occurs to me, if the CEO has a contract defining the terms of his employment, why are so many members and policies of his Republican Party hostile towards allowing lower-paid employees to also negotiate employment contracts?

> AP: "Domino's CEO extends contract for 5 years"
> Regent Brandon's Political Giving, 1990-2002

Posted by Rob at 4:31 PM

What's the link between Borders and

The striking Borders Employees are asking supporters to boycott "all Borders, Waldenbooks, and," leading many to ask, "Why" The answer is that Borders Incorporated has "teamed up" with to provide online sales on their and websites. Also, has incorporated into their website a feature where users can see whether a specific book is available "for pick up" at a Borders Inc. store near them. I am assuming and Borders both share the profits of any products sold through their "partnership," described on their website this way: "How does it work? You can still buy your favorite books, CDs, DVDs, and videos through the Borders teamed with site. You'll also find plenty of exclusive content, including information about Borders store locations and events, as well as's award-winning online store, reliable shipping and delivery, and renowned customer service.

Like many bloggers, I am member of's "Associates" program, where I receive a small kick-back if someone purchases a product from after following a special link on my webpage, although I'm planning on quitting this program soon. What's the alternative? Oregon-based Powell's Books is the self-proclaimed "legendary independent bookstore." They have a program similar to Amazon's associates called a "partnership program", and their employees are unionized as members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 5, with a contract to boot.

Posted by Rob at 4:15 PM

I just sent this email to a few bloggers:


Greetings. I am a student at the University of Michigan, and operator of the Ann Arbor blog I am writing to you with a request of assistance, as I believe now provides a perfect opportunity to justify our collective self-indulgent online writings.


The employees of Borders' Books and Music first, and oldest store, located on Liberty Street several blocks from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan have gone on strike. This store, known as “Store #1” to the Borders corporation, is one of two stores in the nation whose employees have voted to create a union. In December 2002, the employees of the store voted 51-4 to create a union, and have thus far failed to negotiate a contract with Borders – they are calling for a “living wage” (already many cities – Ann Arbor included – pay city employees this wage, determined by a local cost of living) and improved benefits, among others.


I believe the strike of Border's workers is important not because of its magnitude, but because its symbolic value. In an increasingly economically polarized and de-industrialized society, retail unionism seems the inevitable outcome of a situation where companies like Borders can make $125 Million in profits last year, but not increase the pay of their employees significantly in the past ten years. According to an ex-Borders employee who wrote to the Union who says she is “not always pro-union,” in 1994 the starting wage at Borders was $6.10 per hour. In 2000, when she left, it was $6.50 per hour, where it remains today. Concluding “An increase of only 6 1/2% in over NINE YEARS. Compare that to inflation, and regardless of the "industry comparisons", they are NOT paying a living wage.” (Source: )


Post about the strike on your blog – no matter how few or many visitors you receive. Post a link, a thought, anything. Repeat. Already posted? Great work – continue to monitor the situation at the resources below and post updates as the situation develops. Also, if you'd like, send me a link to your post: I'd like to keep track of the (hopefully) ensuing blog discussion. Finally, feel free to tell your friends, and forward this email: I'm sending it to something of a limited list.

Why? You probably have not heard much about this, and there is a reason for that. It has been covered in the mainstream media in exactly three places: the University of Michigan Student newspaper "Michigan Daily,” the little-read outside of Ann Arbor “Ann Arbor News,” and as a short brief in the “Detroit Free Press.” This issue deserves publicity, and you, as a blog operator, are in the unique position to provide it. Forward this email to your friends, post your thoughts about the strike – in support or otherwise – and help create and contribute to a much needed debate about the role of unions in our society, and the issue of chronically low wages and benefits found in what has become a large part of the American economy: the retail sector.


A community organization which has been closely cooperating with the striking employees, Borders Readers United, is operating a “strike blog” where you can find employee testimonials, pictures, and information from the picket lines posted daily. Their address is:

Also, I will be following the issue closely on my blog, accessible at:
(or my strike history page)

Finally, the national clearinghouse for Borders Employees website has lots of good information:

As a disclaimer, although I'm in communication with a couple members of Borders Readers United, I do not know any of the striking workers, or have any formal connections to the national unionization campaign. I am writing this email on my own initiative, and I encourage you to contact the union directly for more information:

bru (at) riseup (dot) net
527 E. Liberty Suite 203, Ann Arbor, MI 48104


"From the Organizing Committee:

Workers at Borders Books store #1 in Ann Arbor, MI will go on strike this Saturday, November 8 at 9:00 AM. We do not take this step lightly. By striking, we hope to convince Borders Management to negotiate with us in good faith so we can reach a fair contract and return to our jobs.

We are writing to ask you to continue to support us by
1) boycotting all Borders, Waldenbooks, and;
2) volunteering to picket with workers in front of the store;
3) joining Borders Readers United, our community support coalition (bru (at) riseup (dot) net)
4) calling Borders Headquarters (734-477-1100) to tell them you support us;
5) coming to our Strike Fund Concert at the Ark in Ann Arbor on 11/10/03;
6) signing an online petition
7) forwarding this message to all your friends and colleagues!

In Solidarity and thanks,
Borders Workers Union Organizing Committee

Long-term Borders employee Hal Brannan says this:

After working at Borders for 18 years and trying to negotiate for nearly a year, now I must take a drastic step. At Store # 1, my coworkers and I have been hoping for a reasonable contract offer, but all we were offered was the employee handbook with the added risk of losing some things. We were hoping Borders would settle our claims of Unfair Labor Practices and turn over a new leaf; but Borders has seen fit to settle with the NLRB while continuing to intimidate and harass us. We see a strike as the last option we have to get Borders to adopt a new attitude. We need you to come to our picket line to show your support.”


If you are “against” unions, or have been brainwashed to believe some BS about the free market functioning to increase wages, or the necessity of “open shop” laws, etc, I'm sorry you received this email and don't bother writing me back. I disagree, and you won't change my mind. I'm only using this hand-assembled email list once. Also, whatever I get back is subject to public ridicule. Thanks for playing, and happy blogging.


Robert C. Goodspeed"

Posted by Rob at 3:55 PM

Know of any inexpensive Blogger-compatible commenting services? Let me know.

Posted by Rob at 3:50 PM

Ann Arbor's new $6.7 Million homeless shelter is scheduled to open November 19, replacing the city's three existing shelters, although not offering any more space, lest the city become a "magnet for the homeless.":

" ... As the opening date nears, concerns still linger over whether the new, state-of-the-art facility - with its sophisticated commercial kitchen, library, medical clinic, job services, computer rooms and a $1.3 million annual budget - will make Ann Arbor a magnet for the homeless.

But shelter officials said they don't expect that to happen.

For one thing, the new shelter offers no more beds than are already available in the county - 35 for men, 15 for women. Second, officials said, the shelter itself is not the draw. ... "

> AANews: "New shelter readies for homeless"

Yes, bourgeois liberalism hasn't moved much beyond the patronizing "settlement houses" for the deserving poor of the turn of the century. Clearly, the existing city shelters aren't large enough to serve the existing homeless community, so deciding to spend $6.7 million on a new shelter that isn't any larger simply says it doesn't bother any public officials that some of the city's residents sleep in parking structures, under bridges, and invariably a few die of the cold each year. However, it could also be a simple matter of funding. The city was forced to become a partner in the project in order to allow the construction of the shelter: it was constructed and will be run by the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County. Since the plan violated the neighborhood's zoning restrictions and the local neighborhood association was in full NIMBY mode, the city was forced to became a partner in the project because they are able to construct buildings in violation of zoning laws with approval of the city council. Yes, this is another side of Ann Arbor "liberalism": help for the homeless should come through private charity only. We sure wouldn't want any free handouts corrupting their Work Ethic! (Although the Shelter Association is quick to point out 60% of the people they help have jobs)

Posted by Rob at 10:56 AM

"Employees from the downtown Ann Arbor Borders store went on strike Saturday, holding signs outside and shouting at customers who walked into the store on East Liberty Street.

A few of some 70 pickets Saturday morning shouted "Please don't shop at Borders!" at pedestrians who passed the picket line and entered the store.

Victoria Collins, spokeswoman for United Food & Commercial Local 876, the Madison Heights-based union representing Borders workers, said members of Borders Readers United, an ad hoc group favoring the strikers, joined them outside the store. About six Borders workers crossed the picket line Saturday, Collins said. ..."

> AANews: "Borders employees go on strike"

Posted by Rob at 10:39 AM

According to the Borders Readers United blog, employees of both the United Parcel Service and the U.S. Postal Service refused to cross the picket line at the downtown Borders store to deliver the mail on the first day of the strike. (Members of the Teamsters and National Association of Letter Carriers, respectively)

Also, the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO is organizing a rally in support of the striking Ann Arbor Borders employees at 8:00 AM Monday outside the newly constructed Compuware Building in downtown Detroit, which houses Borders store number 611.

Posted by Rob at 1:51 AM

Saturday, November 08, 2003

The city Planning Commission is scheduled to consider a proposal by developer Peter Allen to construct a $10 million, six-story mixed-use project at the corner of West Kingsley and North Ashley at their November 18 meeting:

" ... A total of 20 to 25 residential units would be constructed, including 10 to 15 townhouses adjacent to the six-story structure, Allen said. According to plans, residences would range from 680 to 1,960 square feet and would consist of one- to three-bedroom units.

The condominium prices would begin at under $200,000, Allen said. Prices of the four units classified as affordable housing would start at about $100,000. To qualify for the condominiums, home buyers must have an annual income equal to or lower than 73 percent of the area's median income. For a family of four, median income is $77,700.

If the city gives its approval, construction is expected to begin next summer and be completed within a year, Allen said. ..."

> From "Developers seek OK for 6-story building"

In my mind, this is exactly the type of development Ann Arbor should be encouraging. If high property values downtown reflect the fact people want to live here, building a variety of types of sensibly priced housing within walking distance of downtown seems to me a sound investment in the city's future. The type of developments proposed by Mr. Allen, while certainly not cheap, aren't in the same level as the "luxury condominium" market developers like Spoon Equities and Ashley Mews thought existed: both are learning the lesson the hard way that not much of a market exists for their multimillion-dollar extravagancies.

Posted by Rob at 2:50 PM

The Downtown Development Authority has hired an architect to design a 597-space parking structure to be located at the corner of South First and West William streets. Although I doubt the structure will be mixed-use, it seems somebody at the DDA has heard the new urbanist mantra:

" ... The project is part of a three-phase DDA plan that includes the parking structure, a mixed-use building or series of buildings on the South Ashley Street parking lot and a residential development at South First and West Washington streets. Other details of the project remain to be worked out. ... "

> AANews: "Designer chosed for new parking garage"

Posted by Rob at 2:38 PM

" ... Employees of the store threatened to strike a number of years ago, but if the walk-out happens Saturday, it would be the first such strike against Borders at any location. Employees of only one other Borders store, in Minneapolis, have unionized. They rejected a contract proposal in October but have asked Borders to return to the bargaining table.

Author and artist events are the main cancellations at the downtown Ann Arbor store. They include Kate Moses on Monday, Martin Amis on Tuesday, Paul Krugman on Wednesday and Bad Boy Bill on Thursday. Roman said those are the last corporately-scheduled events for the store this year. Borders does not usually schedule book events during the holiday season, as the store is usually crowded already, said Roman. However, she added, the canceled events may be rescheduled in the future. ... "

> From AANews: "Borders is bracing for strike", see also "Downtown Borders workers plan to strike"

Posted by Rob at 2:33 PM

On November 24, a federal law will take effect that will allow consumers to switch cell phone providers but keep the same telephone number, which will no doubt mean the end of the "new phone number" mass emails. The FCC is also considering allowing telephone number portability between land lines and cell phones, a decision they'll announce "soon."

Posted by Rob at 2:28 PM

Borders Readers United has posted on their blog some photos and other information about the Borders' Strike, which began today.

Posted by Rob at 2:19 PM

Friday, November 07, 2003

N.Y. Times Columnist Paul Krugman To Speak on Campus

Economist, New York Times columnist, and frequent critic of the Bush administration Paul Krugman will be speaking on campus next Wednesday, at 8:00 PM in the School of Education's Schorling Auditorium. Krugman was originally planning to come to Ann Arbor to attend book signings of his new book "The Great Unraveling: Losing our Way in the New Century" at the Ann Arbor District Library and Borders, however his Borders appearance Wednesday night was cancelled due to the strike. Here's the end of Krugman's most recent column, in case you're not sure where he's coming from:

" ... So did Mississippi voters support the Republicans, even though they get very little direct benefit from Bush-style tax cuts, because they — unlike New Jersey's voters — understand the magic of supply-side economics? If you believe that, I've got an overpass on the Garden State Parkway you may be interested in buying.

Now maybe New Jersey voted Democratic because of irrational Bush hatred. But I think it's a lot more likely that white Mississippi voters, unlike their counterparts up north, are still responding to Republican flag-waving — and it's not just the American flag that's being waved.

Yet the fact is that Mississippi, being relatively poor, will lose disproportionately if the right wins on its full agenda, which involves a big rollback of New Deal and Great Society programs. (I'll explain in a future column how Republicans are using the prescription drug bill to lay the groundwork for later Medicare cuts.)

Mr. Dean wasn't suggesting that his party adopt the G.O.P. strategy of coded racial signals, and by and large African-Americans — my wife included — understand that. What he meant by his flag remark was that Democrats must make the case to working Americans of all colors that the right's elitist agenda isn't in their interest. And he's right. "

Posted by Rob at 4:52 PM

"I'm impressed you got this many people to come out on a Friday. I'm not sure we would do as well at Harvard, in fact I'm sure we wouldn't."

Said Harvard Professor Liz Cohen at her modestly-attended lecture today in Angell Hall Auditorium A for the Colloquium on Race and Twentieth-Century American Political Development. I'll speculate her comments are influenced by the fact Michigan has many more students than Harvard, and the recent hand-wringing in the Ivy League over what they term "anti-intellectualism." Yes, this is the shocking discovery that people who score well on standardized tests and come from backgrounds of wealth and priviledge might not actually be interested in learning:

"The hardest thing for students at Duke - and at most elite institutions - is getting in," he wrote. "Once admitted, a smart student can coast, drink far too much beer, and still maintain a B+ average."

At Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., the undergraduate curriculum is undergoing a top-to-bottom review.

The rich mix of lectures outside of class do seem well attended, but the hectic pace can sometimes work against deeper learning, says Sujean Lee, president of Harvard's undergraduate council.

"There is no reflection time whatsoever," says the senior biology major. "I don't even account for reflection in my schedule. The fact that I don't even think there needs to be reflection time is telling what values are at Harvard. I have a journal I rarely write in."

> From the CS Monitor: "Deep thinkers missing in action"

To be certain I'm sure there's a healthy amount of anti-intellectualism going on at Michigan, but it's less visible due to the size and balkanization of campus.

Posted by Rob at 1:55 PM

Thursday, November 06, 2003


With the MSA election approaching, it's time to start thinking about student government politics, something I relish. As I can feel some of the more reactionary elements of my readership reacting against my headline, I'll start by pointing out that neither Students First or the University Party have a consistent ideology. Vote for either, and you might end up voting for a member of SOLE or a member of College Republicans. That said, in general "Students First" leans much more progressive than the University Party, but both have notable exceptions.

MSA voted down a resolution this week that would have offered the unionized employees at the downtown Borders a statement of support before their planned strike this Saturday. Every person who voted for the resolution, with two exceptions, was a member of the Students First Party. However, five S1 representatives voted against the resolution. The University Party voting was a bit clearer: sans two abstentions, and Law School Rep. David Osei (Who defeated a DAAP candidate and S1's candidate D.C. Lee, a Michigan Review editor) who voted for the it, they all voted against. Here's the full run-down:

Voted FOR the resolution:

Pierce Beckham (S1)
Rachel Fisher (S1)
Rosie Goldensohn (S1)
Amiel Herrera (S1)
Betty Law (DAAP)
Jesse Levine (S1)
Terri Russiello (S1)
Khuram Siddiqui (S1)
Courtney Skiles (S1)
Monique Perry (S1)
David Osei (UP)

Voted AGAINST the resolution:

Tracy Bell (UP)
Mel Beras (UP)
Tristan deBarros (UP)
Daniel Edelmen (S1)
Greg Graves (S1)
Joe Hawley (UP)
Janet Hong (S1)
Leni Morrison (S1)
Andrew Roskamp (UP)
Joel Stone (UP)
Brad Sugar (S1)
Hilary Winters (n/a)
Dominique Lee (n/a)

Bobby Counihan (UP): abstain, pass
Clint Derringer (UP): abstain
Anita Leung (Blue): abstain, pass
Anita Park (S1): abstain

"This resolution fails by a vote of 11 to 13."

Posted by Rob at 10:55 PM

The Daily covers the Borders' employees plans to strike this Saturday at 9:00 AM. An interesting sidelight to the story: the Michigan Student Assembly failed to pass a resolution in support of the union, proving once again that even in student government, politics matters.

"... Dave Pratt, an employee at Borders for over five years, said he is skeptical of Borders' recent hiring practices in light of the strike. "Borders last week had a job fair where they interviewed 100 people … The ostensible reason is for the Christmas season, but our feeling is that they’re hiring to replace us in event of a strike."

At a meeting Tuesday night, the Michigan Student Assembly debated the passage of a resolution that pledged student support for the Union. Ultimately, the resolution failed.

MSA President Angela Galardi said she was upset that the resolution did not pass. "Some (representatives) got bogged down with numbers and living wage ideas where this is simply more about asking a corporation to negotiate with workers just as we ask the administration to negotiate with us over student issues. It's about bringing people together in good faith."

> From "Borders employees set date to strike for better pay, benefits"

In their aptly named editorial "Borders patrol" the Daily urdges students to support the strike: "For a store that can rake in $125 million in profits in a year, Borders can certainly afford to pay its employees a wage that at least matches the cost of living in Ann Arbor and provide adequate benefits. This would be the responsible and ethical thing to do. But since Borders management has refused to offer its employees a fair wage and benefits package, they have forced the union to the brink of striking.

And in what I'm sure will prove a controversial viewpoint, titled "With blood on their hands," Aliya Chowdhri, Rahul Saksena and Irfan Shuttari write about the warming relations between the governments of India and Israel, saying "It is an alliance that should not be celebrated, it should be denounced."

Posted by Rob at 2:10 AM

Planting 20,000 daffodils in the Arb sounds like a great way to get a master's degree to me! That is, actually, exactly what artist Susan Skarsgard has done - but there's not much to see until the flowers bloom sometime in "late April." See the University Press release, the project's webpage, or a Free Press story on the project that seems to think she only planted 10,000. From the Freep story:

" ... The path of Susan's career is not a straight line.

She is 49. She grew up in Detroit, first visiting the Arb as a teenager when she and friends from Cody High School used the park as a safe place to drop acid, although she never did. She went to college in New Mexico, majoring in music history, lived in Louisiana and eventually returned to Ann Arbor, where she took up calligraphy during slow times at the U-M Medical Center, where she worked as a clerk.

She slipped into a book design job and eight years ago went to work for GM's Design Center as a lettering expert. Among other things, she is in charge of corporate identity for Saturn, and designed its new emblem.

These days, the Arb is where she goes with her husband and sometimes her 22-year-old son, Dan, who helped plant bulbs as a birthday gift for his mother. They stroll or have blanket picnics.

But, she never had never gone alone until she began working on this project.

Like many women, she grew up feeling vulnerable -- unsafe -- in unpeopled places. ... "

Posted by Rob at 12:59 AM

The next speaker in the colloquium organized by professors Anthony S. Chen, Matt Lassiter, and Robert Mickey that brought Tom Sugrue to campus earlier this semester is planned for this week. Harvard Professor Lizabeth Cohen will be giving a talk called "The Racial Politics of Mass Consumption in the Consumers' Republic" on Friday from 12:00 to 1:30 PM in Angell Hall auditorium A, related, no doubt, to her recent book "A Consumer's Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America".

Posted by Rob at 12:49 AM

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Election Coverage Wrap-Up

Michigan Daily
> "Voters Welcome Greenbelt"
> "Despite efforts, student fail to get council seats"

Ann Arbor News
> "Greenbelt Proposal Wins Landslide Voter Approval"
> "City Runs out of Ballots"
> "Republican voice holds on"
> "Voters retain rule for council"
> "Ann Arbor Township Voters Approve Proposal"

Detroit Free Press
> "Ann Arbor Voters OK Tax to Buy Open Land"

Posted by Rob at 12:10 PM

The union representing employees at Ann Arbor's Liberty Street Borders will be going on strike this Saturday, November 8 at 9:00 AM after struggling for nearly a year to negotiate a contract with Borders Incorporated management. Below is a message the union is circulating. They're planning a folk and rock fundraiser at the Ark next Monday; more information is avaliable on the Borders Readers United blog.

"Workers at Borders Books store #1 in Ann Arbor, MI will go on strike this Saturday, November 8 at 9:00 AM. We do not take this step lightly. By striking, we hope to convince Borders Management to negotiate with us in good faith so we can reach a fair contract and return to our jobs.

We are writing to ask you to continue to support us by
1) boycotting all Borders, Waldenbooks, and;
2) volunteering to picket with workers in front of the store;
3) joining Borders Readers United, our community support coalition
4) calling Borders Headquarters (734-477-1100) to tell them you support us;
5) coming to our Strike Fund Concert at the Ark in Ann Arbor on 11/10/03 at 8pm;
6) signing an online petition:
7) forwarding this message to all your friends and colleagues!

In Solidarity and thanks,
Borders Workers Union Organizing Committee

More detailed information follows:

Long-term Borders employee Hal Brannan says this:

After working at Borders for 18 years and trying to negotiate for nearly a year, now I must take a drastic step. At Store # 1, my coworkers and I have been hoping for a reasonable contract offer, but all we were offered was the employee handbook with the added risk of losing some things. We were hoping Borders would settle our claims of Unfair Labor Practices and
turn over a new leaf; but Borders has seen fit to settle with the NLRB while continuing to intimidate and harass us. We see a strike as the last option we have to get Borders to adopt a new attitude. We need you to come to our picket line to show your support."

Posted by Rob at 11:20 AM

"... Prop B is a good start, although not enough to reverse the seemingly inexorable sprawling of America, which can be stemmed only with considerably higher land and fuel pricing, as well as new zoning, regional and urban growth and redevelopment policies. It picks relatively low-hanging fruit that will only get harder to reach with time. There will no doubt be unintended consequences , as there always are, but probably not the ones now being trotted out by the opposition, who are in some cases doing their best to obfuscate and confuse the voters. Proposition B is an historic beginning of a new attitude and discipline about how we want to build community for ourselves and the future." ...

Writes Douglass Kelbaugh, Dean of the Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning, and a noted new urbanist. In his short analysis he debunks six "Fallacies" such as the contention the greenbelt will increase housing costs, taxes will go up, and it will cause leapfrog sprawl.

Posted by Rob at 1:25 AM

Unofficial results from the city:

RUN DATE:11/05/03 12:38 AM

PRECINCTS COUNTED (OF 48) . . . . . 48 100.00%
REGISTERED VOTERS - - TOTAL . . . . 82,834

ROBERT M. JOHNSON (DEM). . . . . . 1,545 60.80%
ROB HAUG (GRN). . . . . . . . . 371 14.60%
RICK LAX. . . . . . . . . . . 618 24.32%

MIKE REID (REP) . . . . . . . . 2,363 53.95%
AMY SEETOO (DEM) . . . . . . . . 2,017 46.05%

LEIGH GREDEN (DEM) . . . . . . . 2,667 73.35%
RICH BIRKETT (LIB) . . . . . . . 521 14.33%
DONNA ROSE . . . . . . . . . . 443 12.18%

MARCIA HIGGINS (REP). . . . . . . 1,885 51.83%
DAN SHEILL (LIB) . . . . . . . . 209 5.75%
SCOTT S. TRUDEAU (GRN) . . . . . . 1,082 29.75%
JON KINSEY . . . . . . . . . . 445 12.24%

WENDY A. WOODS (DEM). . . . . . . 3,928 74.54%
JASON KANTZ (LIB). . . . . . . . 587 11.14%
ADRIANNA BUONARROTI (GRN) . . . . . 752 14.27%

YES . . . . . . . . . . . . 8,540 42.90%
NO. . . . . . . . . . . . . 11,369 57.10%

YES . . . . . . . . . . . . 14,524 66.64%
NO. . . . . . . . . . . . . 7,270 33.36%

Posted by Rob at 12:55 AM

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

This from the AP at 12:41 p.m.:

"In Ann Arbor, with 96 percent of precincts reporting, a proposed property tax hike to combat urban sprawl was leading 13,503 votes in favor to 6,950 votes against.

The proposal would impose a 30-year property tax to purchase development rights to some 7,000 acres outside of the city."

In related news, the Free Press reports a proposal similar to Ann Arbor's greenbelt has passed in Ann Arbor Township, and turnout in Ann Arbor was high:

"Ann Arbor City Clerk Kathleen Root said a turnout of more than 22,000 voters caused election officials to scramble for extra ballots, including paper ballots that would have to be hand counted."

> From Freep: "ANN ARBOR TWP. PROPOSAL: Voters approve tax to buy land"

Posted by Rob at 11:40 PM

I was the 50th person to vote today in Ward 1, Precinct 1, around 4:30 this afternoon. The voting officials said things had been "quiet." Also, see AANews: "Early voting pace light despite greenbelt issue".

Posted by Rob at 4:52 PM

Polls will be open 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM

> To find out where to vote, and view what you'll be voting on, enter your name or address in
> To read more about the candidates running for city council, see my questionnaire page

My Suggestions:

YES on Proposal A which would eliminate the requirement that city council candidates must live in one ward for one year before running, and eliminate the requirement city employees live in the city

YES on Proposal B which would re-allocate an existing property tax to preserve open land around the city by buying it, or purchasing development rights

Ward #1: ROB HAUG (Green)
Ward #2: AMY SEETOO (D)
Ward #3
(no suggestion)
Ward #4: SCOTT TRUDEAU (Green)
Ward #5: WENDY WOODS (D)

> See my complete analysis of the city council races.

Posted by Rob at 12:29 AM

Monday, November 03, 2003

The union representing workers at the downtown Ann Arbor Borders has voted to authorize a strike, which might happen as soon as this week.

> AANews: "Borders workers authorize strike"
> Much more information at

Posted by Rob at 7:52 PM

The Ann Arbor News reports on turnout expected tomorrow. In the past it varies widely: from 40% in 2002 to 8.4% in 2001. However, the fact that 1,830 absentee ballots have already been received, "many more" than in 2001, indicates the News might be right to imply turnout will be high.

Posted by Rob at 4:41 PM

Been tracked lately? No doubt because they can be easily disabled if stolen (stolen and fraudulent parking passes is an endemic problem at the University, and constitutes one of the major uses of the Code of Student Conduct) the University will begin converting employee parking passes to electronic chips that automatically communicate with the parking garage gate.

> URecord: "Many employees will need automated parking tags"
> UMPR: "U-M parking structures to automate"

Posted by Rob at 3:57 PM

This event sounds interesting, no doubt about Michigamua, part of a series on our "Native American Heritage":
"Native Americans and Secret Societies at the University of Michigan
7 p.m. Nov. 18 Angell Hall, Room TBA
Discussion about the University's history with the Native community."

Posted by Rob at 3:53 PM

If you've seen the ads in the Daily, you know the administration is a little worried about the "R" word. Yes, that's right: rioting. A story in today's University Record describes efforts by the university to reign in drunken crowd behavior at football and hockey games, but gets to the point with refreshing honesty at the end: don't riot. I'm not sure what to think: unless they know something I don't, I think the likelihood of an MSU-style riot is low at Michigan. I see their initiative as part of a larger agenda of trying to create a polished image of the university through the control of students behavior and the polite tolerance of student activists. Perhaps they're just emboldened by their success cracking down on the Naked Mile and Hash Bash.

... "One of the issues that we're trying to get our hands around in college football is the sportsmanship issue," Carr said at an Aug. 25 press conference. His statement is the basis for a campus ad campaign. Print ads appear on University buses and in the residence halls, with plans to use additional media to spread the word across campus. "It is a vital issue; we've taken great pride at Michigan that our fans conduct themselves in a way that made all of us proud. We want Michigan to continue to be a place that is hospitable to everyone." ...

In August, the Big Ten enacted a series of crowd control initiatives to address fan behavior and improve security for visiting teams and officials.

"For more than 100 years, the Big Ten Conference has focused on fairness and sportsmanship, and we want everyone involved with our competitions to uphold these values," Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany says. "Our message is simple, Respect the Game.'"

Stevenson says the Big Ten took action, in part, because of rioting and fan behavior in Columbus following last year's football game between U-M and Ohio State.

U-M officials hope their efforts ensure civility and sportsmanship Nov. 22 when Ohio State plays at Michigan Stadium. The game represents the 100th anniversary of the football rivalry between the two schools."

> From U Record: "Student affairs, athletics work to improve sportsmanship"

Posted by Rob at 3:46 PM

"Anyone who has struggled with an interactive display in a museum knows how dodgy touchscreens can be. If they don't freeze, they easily become misaligned, which means they can record the wrong data. In Dallas, during early voting before last November's election, people found that no matter how often they tried to press a Democrat button, the Republican candidate's name would light up. After a court hearing, Diebold agreed to take down 18 machines with apparent misalignment problems. "And those were the ones where you could visually spot a problem," Dr Mercuri says. "What about what you don't see? Just because your vote shows up on the screen for the Democrats, how do you know it is registering inside the machine for the Democrats?" (From here)

Posted by Rob at 3:30 PM

What were you for halloween? Sparky, the penguin creation of Tom Tomorrow, was a Diebold voting machine. That's pretty scary!

" ... Diebold has become a favorite target of advocates who accuse it of partisanship: company executives have made large contributions to the Republican Party and the chief executive, Walden W. O’Dell, said in an invitation to a fund-raiser that he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.’’

He has since said that he will keep a lower political profile. Diebold has been trying to stop the dissemination of the files for months with cease and desist letters, but the number of sources for the documents continues to proliferate. Then in July, the first evaluation of the purloined software from recognized authorities in the field — a team involving experts and Johns Hopkins University and Rice University — found several serious holes in the software’s computer security which, if exploited, could allow someone to vote repeatedly, or to change the votes of others. A later review of the software for the State of Maryland agreed that the software flaws did exist, but that in the practice of real elections, other safety nets of security would keep the vulnerabilities in the code from being exploited. Diebold has said it has been working to fix problems. ... "

> From today's NYTimes: "File Sharing Pits Copyright Against Free Speech"

Meanwhile, 4th Ward candidate Scott Trudeau sent me the link to this story, about how the Australians have approached electronic voting: with open source software.

New to all this insanity? I suggest the London Independent's excellent story, "All the president's votes." Just to whet your appetite, here's their tease: "A quiet revolution is taking place in US politics. By the time it's over, the integrity of elections will be in the unchallenged, unscrutinised control of a few large - and pro-Republican - corporations. Andrew Gumbel wonders if democracy in America can survive"

Posted by Rob at 3:14 PM

"ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- A 43-year-old man faces charges after he smashed a bird-feeder and threw a pumpkin through the window of a house where his young son said he didn't get any Halloween candy.

Police reports show the man was taking his son trick-or-treating about 6:30 p.m. Friday when the child went to a house where a woman was passing out candy.

The boy returned to his father crying, saying he didn't get any candy. ... "

> From "Ann Arbor dad arrested after throwing pumpkins while trick-or-treating with son"

Posted by Rob at 2:57 PM

Sunday, November 02, 2003

The Ann Arbor News publishes a short "guide to proposal B," if you'd like the issue simplified for you.

(Correction: They have printed some information about Boulder and Portland, although it never made it on the web anywhere I can find. Here's their special greenbelt page.)

Posted by Rob at 8:43 PM

The University of Michigan makes its way into a New York Times Magazine piece by Francisco Goldman: "In the Shadow of the Patriarch."

"I was in my first year at the University of Michigan when Jorge Luis Borges came to speak. I sat on the floor of a packed auditorium and remember the moment during the questions and answers when a graduate student rose to voice his vehement request for Borges to unequivocally denounce the realist novel. Borges, with his soft, blind stare, resembled an elegant saint levitating in an English suit as he answered, ''Young man, whether we are talking about Henry James or Robbe-Grillet, Conrad or Beckett, all of literature is part of the same dream and one of the few pleasures allowed to us on this earth.''

A few years later, after I had moved to New York City and was living on the Lower East Side, I learned that Carlos Fuentes was giving a ''Great Novels'' course at Columbia's School of International Affairs. It was a very early class, 8 in the morning, I think, which to me seemed like dawn. Carrying the special bound notebook that I had made at a photocopy shop where I worked, I would sneak into his class. ... My favorite authors were people you could actually meet! Eventually I saw and sometimes met them all: Julio Cortazar, Jose Donoso, Guillermo Cabrera Infante. "

Posted by Rob at 8:40 PM

I've posted Green Party Candidate in the first ward Rob Haug's responses to my city council questionnaire. If any other candidates who haven't responded would like to submit something I'd be happy to post it.

Posted by Rob at 7:38 PM

Saturday, November 01, 2003

In accordance with my policy, here's a letter from first ward candidate Rick Lax:

"Letter to the Editor:

I know that both Rob Haug (the Green Party candidate) and I (the Independent) are students, and that you had a tough time endorsing his candidacy over mine (because mine is so student-oriented), but I'm disappointed with your decision because I fear it could split the student vote.

Today, I had 7 people going "door-to-door" campaigning with me, and they reported that dozens of people said they got the letter my campaign sent out (2,900 of them) and that they were going to vote for me. I've got a real shot at winning this election because I have support from both the students and the residents.

When I'm elected, I will fight for student issues. I'll fight to make parking easier on central campus. I'll fight to bring student-affordable housing to campus. As an Independent, I can work for the students, without worrying about what any political organization says.

There hasn't been a student on the council for years, even though 1/3 of us here in Ann Arbor are students. On Tuesday, I want to change that--but, for that to happen, I need to have the students unified behind me.

I was the only candidate, including Mr. Haug, to answer your questioner, and I hope that any student reading this will check out my answers and consider voting for me on Tuesday.

Thanks Rob,
Rick Lax "

Posted by Rob at 10:07 PM

"Dean says America needs affirmative action to overcome people's natural bias to hire and promote employees who look like them. But he had a different position in 1995, when the then-governor of Vermont appeared on CNN.

"You know, I think we ought to look at affirmative action programs based not on race, but on class and opportunities to participate," Dean said.

Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist and fellow candidate for the Democratic nomination, brought Dean's previous statement to light this week. He said it contributes to Dean's "anti-black agenda" -- a criticism Dean and his campaign dismissed. ""

> From "Affirmative aciton past could come back to haunt some democrats" The article also points out statements critical of affirmative action made by John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman. But what are the alternatives, you ask - Kucinich just isn't electable enough! Well, there's one presidential candidate Michael Moore didn't mention by name when he came to speak on campus who you might be interested in, and I think she deserves consideration.

Posted by Rob at 1:02 PM

Although the student occupation of an administration building at the University of Minnesota has ended, the striking union of 1,900 clerical workers said their efforts helped pressure the University to return to negotiations. For more, see:
> Workday Minnesota's special coverage of the strike
> MNDaily: "U, strikers to negotiate Sunday"

Posted by Rob at 12:54 PM

Halloween has long been my favorite holiday, and I was curious to discover last night the whole thing seemed a bit bizarre to a French student, who seemed quite taken aback by the whole deal but said it was "taking off" in France. Indeed, Halloween is historically the unique invention of the British Isles, specifically the Celtic civilization. I suggest checking out an interesting discussion of Halloween's origins posted by Airbeagle.

Posted by Rob at 12:48 PM

Two articles of note:
> "U-M calls 'legacy' status minor factor"
> "Density discussion dominates greenbelt forum"

Posted by Rob at 12:35 PM

City Council Elections Made Simple

Here's a quick synopsis of my take on the the city council races. These are voting suggestions, not endorsements, and I encourage people to disagree with my opinions. In selecting these recommendations, I am choosing the candidates who I believe best embody the type of city council I'd like to see: one with a progressive, inclusive ideology that actively works to include students and students views into city government. For more information about the Ward system, where and how to vote, and to read the results of my questionnaire, see my council elections page.

I was happy to see two student candidates in this ward, and this was probably the closest decision for me to make. Although Rick Lax should be given credit for making the issue of student representation central to his campaign, and says he supports working to re-district the city to create student-majority wards, I believe Haug and the Green Party have a more comprehensive, well-thought-out agenda for the city. In my questionnaire, Lax said about the Patriot act resolution "I don’t think the City Council can speak as the voice of the entire city," and has repeatedly claimed he opposed the State Street Area improvement project for increasing rents. While high rents are almost certainly an important issue, I don't believe the overdue street improvements are to blame.

Although I've heard the council has appreciated his knowledge on some issues, Amy Seetoo's opponent Mike Reid has consistently opposed resolutions and policy changes I have supported. With strong connections to reactionary neighborhood associations, Reid was a vocal opponent of accessory apartments, which would have increased the density downtown and provided a small but much-needed increase in the number of housing units available to the student population. A university researcher, Seetoo has been active in Ann Arbor's Asian-American community, which although sizable also often goes unrepresented, and I believe she would be an excellent additon to the city council.

Ward #3
In this ward, I think Democrat Leigh Greden and independent Donna Rose are the strongest candidates, although I hesitate to strongly recommended either. Greden, an attorney and U-M alum, supports the greenbelt, said he would have voted for the Patriot Act resolution, and (sensibly) said he opposes charging U-M students for city services. However, he seems content with the organization of city government, avoiding my question about whether he thinks city wards should be re-drawn, and suggests students contact their councilpersons to have their views represented. Donna Rose, running against Greden, opposes the greenbelt proposal. I don't know enough about her to make a firm judgment, but her other ideas seem interesting: she told the Ann Arbor News her top three issues were regional public transportation, equal access for people with disabilities to city services, and emergency preparedness.

First, a quick disclaimer: personally know two of the candidates in this ward: Scott Trudeau and Dan Sheill. To her credit, incumbent republican Marcia Higgins seems very moderate, and has rarely been as vocal as Mike Reid, but I think this ward provides an opportunity to elect a strong voice for students.
Although he opposes the greenbelt on the grounds it will cause sprawl farther out of the city, Libertarian candidate and U-M undergrad Dan Sheill supports a student ward, and I think some if his ideas, such as liberalized zoning laws, are interesting. That said, I think Scott Trudeau is the strongest candidate in this ward. A recent U-M grad, candidate for regent, and University employee, Trudeau would bring an excellent knowledge of both Ann Arbor and the student community. His strong commitments to the environment, affordable housing, dense development, and increasing student's political power in the city closely mirrors what I'd like to see happen in the city, and he deserves your vote.

Although Woods opposes creating a student ward (like all Ann Arbor Democrats), she has made passage of the city's living wage ordinance, the Patriot Act resolution, and increasing affordable housing priorities. She is the best candidate running in this ward, and deserves re-election.

Remember: Election Day is next Tuesday, November 4!

Posted by Rob at 12:29 PM

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