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April 03, 1969 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1969-04-03

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Thursday, April 3, 1969

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

P,.. Fiv,

r wvl= t IVR,-

:

Richard

E.

Balzhiser

vs.

Robert

I

AS A candidate for mayor, Richard E.
Balzhiser pledges to protect the in-
terests of both sides in every dispute
-black and white, town and gown,
affluent and impoverished, landlord
and tenant.
However, his engaging manner and
liberally-worded campaign slogans
belie a traditional Republican reluc-

Richard E.
Balzhiser
republican

When the final vote came, the com-
prehensive ordinance passed. Balzhi-
ser voted against it joining two arch-
conservative councilmen, Paul John-
ston and 0. W. Habel.
He says he would have voted for the
more comprehensive bill had his vote
been necessary for its passage. Since
it wasn't, he says, he felt free to fol-
low his "principles" and vote against
the bill.,It is these "principles" which
voters must question.
Balzhiser explains his opposition to
the ordinance saying he wanted to
avoid polarization of the community.
"Looking around my ward, I saw
signs of integration." He noted such
signs "all over town," he says and
feared that adoption of the total cov-
erage law could "precipitate a nega-
tivee reaction" among whites in the
community, causing a retreat from
"our forward moving posture."
Again, Balzhiser's fear that progres-
sive governmental action would do
more harm than good caused the
"moderate" Republican to adopt a
conservative stance, and vote against
fair housing guarantees.

tance to actively involve city govern-
ment' in solving the city's pressing
problems.
Balzhiser, 36, is a University profes-
sor of chemical and metallurgical en-
gineering. He was a student here and
played football for the Wolverines.
Elected to the City Council in 1965
from the Fifth Ward, he resigned his
W seat in Sept., 1967, to take a position
as a White House Fellow in the De-
fense Department.
Balzhiser has been awarded the Mi-
chigan Jaycees "Outstanding Young
Man" award, and is rumored to be
shooting for the lieutenant governor-
ship in 1970.
PERHAPS, THE M O S T contro-
versial campaign issue - and
certainly the most relevant to stu-
dents - has been Balzhiser's propos-
ed ordinance to make a landlord's
"wilfull, malicious, and fraudulent"
withholding of damage deposits a
misdemeanor.
Students, especially those leading
the rent strike, had objected to the
proposed ordinance. They pointed to
the testimony of lawyers who had
condemned the ordinance at City
Council hearings.
Most of the attorneys - notably
Prof. Joseph Sax of the Law School-
told the council the ordinance was
unenforceable, and that it put the
burden of proof, and the responsibil-
Ity of initiating court action, on the
student rather than on the landlord.
Balzhiser claims the ordinance was
equally opposed by the landlords. He
points to this fact as "proof" that the
bill was not drawn up in the interests
of the landlords as many of his critics
charge.
Nevertheless, Balzhiser continued
to back the motion in the face of both
landlord and student opposition and
.the legal testimony on its ineffective-
ness. But while he continued support-
ing the bill, he also toyed with his op-
ponent's Idea of creating a voluntary
escrow account, into which landlords
would-if they wished--place dam-
age deposits. The deposit would be re-
turned to the renter at the time of
expiration of the lease, unless the
landlord files a claim for some of the
money on the basis of alleged damage
to the facilities.
He rightly considers this plan
merely wishful thinking, for a volun-
tary fund would be as ineffective as
his proposed ordinance. Balzhiser has
refused to back it publicly, preferring
to support, to the bitter end, the now
dead "Balzhiser ordinance."
Part of his unwillingness to support
the escrow fund plan comes from Bal-
zhiser's reluctance to involve the city
directly in the rent dispute. He also
doesn't think the city government is
the place to set up machinery to pro-
tect the city's tenants.
"I don't think this should have to
be legislated," he says. "It should
come from an agreement between the
landlords and the tenants."
ON THE question of open housing,
as well as other aspects of civil
rights, Balzhiser classifies himself as
being "among the most progressive,"
But, he cautions, he is not. "in Al
Wheeler's camp," Wheeler Is state
chairman of the NAACP.
However, Balzhiser's claim to "pro-
gressiveness" seems to be based more
on the fact that a "mixed couple lives

up the street," than pn his actual vot-
ing record. The candidate voted 'no'
on the 1965 local fair housing ordi-
nance.
"People have tried to characterize
me as a conservative because of that'
vote," he says.
In that year, the council was faced
with several proposed fair housing
laws. One bill, which Balzhiser sup-
nored_ would hwa niA1Anw cakwri

himself a "Romney Republican" he
says the person he most wanted to
support in the last presidential race
was New York City Mayor John Lind-
say.
However, he says he is "impressed
with Nixon's job so far."
On the war in Vietnam, Balzhiser
says "I am neither hawkish nor dov-
ish." But in 1965, when Balzhiser was
a city councilman from the F i f t h
Ward,,his stand was not quite so equi-
vocal. He introduced a resolution to
council endorsing the war in Viet-
nam. The resolution reads in part:
WHEREAS: Ann Arbor and other
cities across the nation have re-
cently experienced public demon-
strations designed to undermine
the efforts of our country in pre-
serving the rights and freedoms of
the people of South Vietnam;
AND WHEREAS: Unlawful and
imprudent acts such as those
practices by an irresponsible ele-
ment can easily be misconstrued by
enemies of this country . . .
THEREFORE, be it resolved that
the City Council of Ann Arbor go
on record as supporting the actions
of the United States government
in its efforts to bring a rapid but
uncompromising peace in Vietnam,
and be it further resolved that this
Council will oppose, by all lawful
means available to it, acts of civil
disobedience or organizations pro-
moting civil disobedience, while at
the same time preserving the con-
stitutional guarantees of all citizens
to express publically a dissenting
point of view.
Balzhiser's modification of h i s
hawkish position puts him heading in
the right direction, but one step be-
hind. On this issue, as on many oth-
ers, Balzhiser shows himself to be not
a leader, but a follower, not an inno-
vator but a conservative.
ASKED SPECIFICALLY about his
stand on sending the police onto
campus, Balzhiser says:
"The University pays 18 per cent
of the police budget of the city, and
for that, I think they expect service
as do citizens and students. But there
has been no call for police beats on
campus in the past," he says.
Pressed on the question of sending
in a mass of police officers to con-
front a mass of students, Balzhiser
says he believes that police chief,
Walter Krasny, should have virtual
autonomy on that matter.
He emphasized that in his opinion,
no police action should be taken un-
less requested by the President of the
University. However, he adds, "I
think that in a form of government
like we have in Ann Arbor you (the
mayor) can't be at the elbow of the
police chief all the time."
Another issue in the area of police
community relations is one raised
by the arrests at the nude perform-
ance of Dionysus in '69. One idea Balz-
hiser has put forth to help prevent
further such incidents is creation of
a police-citizen review board, osten-
sibly to preview such events and cen-
sor them if objectionable.
Balzhiser cautions, however, he
hasn't thought the plan through in
its entirety, and also mentions t h a t
"legally, I don't know if its practical."
AS MAYOR of Ann Arbor, Balzhiser
would undoubtedly strive to pre-

serve what he sees as the present
well being, of all citizens with a policy
of laissez faire city government. Un-
fortunately, the government which
governs least cannot serve Ann Ar-
bor best simply because there are
conspicuous needs for concerted ac-
tion on a central basis. Unwilling to
commit his own ample resources and
those of the city toward grappling
with major issues, Balzhiser cannot
be expected to contribute initiative
and imagination to city government.

ROBERT J. HARRIS is an intelli-
gent,,innovative ,candidate with a
critical concern for the quality of life
led by his fellow citizens. He has a
thorough comprehension of and re-
spect for the law coupled with t h e
firm belief that a government exists
to actively protect the interests and
improve the living conditions of its
constituents.
Harris, 38, is a professor in the Law
Robert J. Harris
democrat
School. A resident of the city since
1959, Harris has been an active mem-
ber of the Washtenaw Legal Aid So-
ciety, the Legal .Advisory Council of
the National Committee Against Dis-
crimination in Housing, and has serv-
ed as a consultant to the New Detroit
Committee. He is a member of the'
National Association for the Advance-
ment of Colored People and a leader
in the local American Civil Liberties
Union.
He graduated from Yale Law School,
and was a Rhodes Scholar from Con-
necticut.
NEITHER HARRIS nor his opponent
have come out with unqualified
support for the rent strike currently
being waged by 1200 Ann Arbor ten-
ants.
However, while both have said they
agree in principle with the goals and
aims of the rent strike, Harris has
done much more than his competitor
to help the strikers achieve t h e i r
goals.
While Balzhiser has introduced a
proposed ordinance which has alien-
ted landlords and students alike, Har-
ris has drafted state legislation re-
gulating the rental of apartments,
and other living units. Sander Levin,
Senate leader from Detroit, has
agreed to sponsor the legislation
which will be introduced soon.
Harris' proposed bill will call for
statewide standards governing use of
damage deposits. It would leave two
options open to landlords: 1) A land-
lord could negotiate a lease includ-
ing the provision that, at any time,
the tenant may ask that his previous-
ly paid damage deposit be applied to
his rent for a given month, or 2) the
landlord could ask the tenant to sign
a lease stipulating that the damage
deposit be put in the trust of a third
party.
Balzhiser has spoken about such a
"third party plan," but refuses to
back a mandatory plan, arguing that
city government should stay out of
the business of regulating renting
procedures.
Unfortunately, while it is obvious
that Harris is very sympathetic to
the goals of the Rent Strike,, he has
not come forward directly to back it.
Harris has admittedly chosen t h e
course of political expediency in re-
fraining from adopting an uncom-
promising position of support for a
stance unpopular among Ann A r b o r
citizens in general. His position on
this issue is understandable and very
politic but, nonetheless, disappoint-
ing.
H ARRIS HAS a progressive and well-
considered approach to the housing
shortage in Ann Arbor. He insists the
city must increase the supply of de-
cent public housing for both low and

moderate income citizens. Currently
such housing developments have two
and three year waiting lists.
In order to increase the supply of
housing, Harris supports extensive
additional planning of cooperative
low income housing with federal
funds. He also favors subsidizing low
income housing under the federal
housing 221 D-3 program and backs
reductions of property taxes for the
cooperatives as an incentive to build
the housing.
The candidate would also press the

University to build more apartments
for both married and unmarried stu-
dents.
In addition to increasing the supply
of housing, Harris promises to seek
rent subsidies for poor tenants.
Harris' opponent' has objected to
tougher enforcement of Building
and Housing Codes, because it would
put too great a burden on the little
man, the private. householder unable
to afford expensive repairs or reno-
vations.
Noting the problem caused by
tougher housing enforcement, Harris
has proposed a plan which makes a
legal distinction between the private
homeowner and the, commercial land-
lord.
Commercial landlords would be re-
quired to quickly correct violations
of the code when given notice, and
would be held to a deadline. T h e
homeowner, who must live with the
hazards, would be given more lee-
way, as long as the violations in these
cases did not endanger others.
The Harris plan would make a de-
finite distinction between violations

Harris
zen review-censorship board, to pre-
judge a performance and advise the
police when or when not to act.
He finds this plan unacceptable be-
cause it allows the mores of the local
community to define what is obscene.
"Majority mores cannot be allowed to
restrict free speech,' says Harris.
IN ORDER to help Ann Arbor out of
the financial squeeze it will face
in the next few years, Harris has pro-
posed revamping the city's tax struc-
ture.
He supports adoption of an income
tax of one per cent on city residents,
and of one-half of one per cent on
non-residents who earn their living
here. The adoption of the incom
tax would be accompanied by a,
cut of nine mills in the current e it y
property tax.
Harris says that because the pro-
perty tax is not geared to the ability
to pay its exclusive use is "unfair."
And, he says, it is especially unfair to
young property owners and the elder-
ly. The property tax also does not
take into account the number of de-
pendents and, it allows a wide margin
of error in the assessment of proper-
ties, he says.
Through the reduction of the pro-
perty millage and introduction of the
income tax, Harris feels a more equit-
able and balanced tax system would
result overall.
Harris also objects to the property
tax because it does not take into
consideration inflation and changes
in real income.
Harris says the amount of revenue-
brought in by the new income tax on
residents would match the amount
lost by cutting the tax rate for pro-
perty. In addition, the city would get
approximately $400,000 from the in-
come tax on non-residents who use
the city's streets, utilities and govern-
mental services each day, but who
currently pay no taxes to help main-
tain these facilities.
Although not a major issue, the
question of possible conflict of nter-
est in office was brought forth by
Harris' challenge to Balzhiser that he
list all his assets and sources of in-
come, something which Harris had
done previously for the first time in
an Ann Arbor mayoral election.
While comparatively a red herring
issue, it is indicative of Harris' deter-
mination to branch off on a new,
fresh, course in this campaign for
Ann Arbor's highest elected office.
ONE OF THE strongest objections
raised to the Harris candidacy is
the lawyer's obvious lack of exper-

ON THE SURFACE, Balzhiser's sup-
port of Model Cities is more en-
couraging.
"It is a concept which I can fully
support because of its emphasis on
locat initiative, direction, and con-
trol," he says.
The program now calls for study of
an area in the North Central portion
of the city, Ann Arbor's mainly black
ghetto. After the study is completed,
a federal grant is expected to help
carry out the needed rebuilding.
Much of the studying, and most of
the policy-making for the project will
come from a citizens board composed-
of elected representatives of groups
and citizens in the area itself.
Balzhiser charges that attempts at
"outside" control of the project-spe-
cifically by Democrats like the NAA-
CP's Wheeler and state CODtE leader
Ezra Rowry must not be tolerated.
"Leadership during the study per-
iod as well as the implemen-
tation period should come from with-
in the area," he says. "To seek or ac-
cept leaders from outside the area,
regardless of how well intentioned
they are, can only defeat the ultimate
purpose of the program."
He advocates that city agencies
stand by to assist "in any way deem-
ed appropriate by the policy board."
Although Balzhiser's emphasis on
community involvement in program
planning is commendable, such a
view represents a misunderstanding
of the situation which may kill Model
Cities. Final authority for planning
and policy making should rest with
the coinmunity's present, duly-elect-
ed policy board. The board is simply'
not controlled by "outside interests."
Recent attempts by misinformed lo-
cal residents and misguided Republi-
can councilmen to challenge the au-
thority of the board have only stalled
implementation of Model Cities, at a
time when the Nixon administration
is re-considering the general merit of
the program.
BALZHISER IS LESS THAN com-
mited to expanding the horizons
of public housing in Ann Arbor. Cur-
rently, a preliminary loan application
for 300 more units of low-cost public
housing has been submitted to Wash-
ington, in addition to the 151 units
already in the blueprint stage.
He supports going ahead with more

of a minor nature, and those which
could be a health or safety hazard.
THE CENTRAL POINT of the Demo-
cratic candidate's stand on police
intervention on campus is restraint.
In the,case of interruption of Uni-
versity business or when property in-
terests of the University are threat-
ened, Harris would have the police
act only in response to a call from
'University officials.
In the case of personal violence,
Harris sees the need for immediate
_r

I

VOTE

MONIDA Y

Apr11, 7

. ! -. -.
r _

police intervention, but he points out
again the necessity for close coopera-
tion between city and University of,
ficials.
Harris strongly objected to o n e
instance of police intervention on
campus this year-the arrest of t h e
actors in Dionysus in '69. "If I were
the prosecutor I would not have pro-
secuted. If I were the judge I would
not convict," Harris says.
The candidate explains he would'
not consider the show illegal. "It was
no shock to the sensibilities of the
audience," he says. "They knew what
they} were going to see."
Harris rejects the notion put forth
by his opponent of creation of a citi-

ience in city administration. How-
ever, the experience issue has little to
do with the abilities and overwhelm-
ing concern Harris would bring to the
post. Ann Arbor's mayor is not
a city administrator responsible f o r
carrying out programs, but is an ex-
ecutive responsible for directing and
innovating in city government.
Moreover, Harris as a Democrat,
would come as a breath of fresh air to
Ann Arbor, stagnating under years of
status quo management by the Re-
publicans.
The professor's legal background,
coupled with his genuine and coher-
ent concern for the city make him an
impressive candidate in the mayoral
race.

m

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