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October 04, 1978 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-10-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ge 4-Wednesday, October 4, 1 978-The Michigan Daily
Eighty-Nine Years of Editorial Freedom

What do you do when
they don't want to die

Vol. UX, No.24

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

U' presidential 'selection:
hose affected should decide

HE REGENTS are eight public of-
ficials who are elected by the
le of this state to oversee the
ations of the University. But we
t remember that being a regent is
condary importance in each of their
s. They are businesspersons,
'ers, parents and spouses 29 days
e month, and University officials
wo days. So why should they have
;rary control over the selection of
w university president?
e persons who will be most
eted by the president will be
lty and students, not the Regents.
ire here every day for four years,
faculty members for even longer
that. When the University
ident makes a decision, it does not
Ipt or even physically affect the
r lives of the Regents, but it can
:ally alter the living and working
itions for students and faculty.
these reasons, students and
lty must have some influence in
rmining the new president - even
Regents would concur - but the
tion is how much?
der the current plan, there would
ree separate advisory committees
would make recommendations to
legents. One committee would be
;rised of 15faculty members, and
>ther two would have 10 students
LO alumni.
ese three committees would
pendently submit lists of names to
ierick Wagman, special secretary
; selection committee, who.would,
arch each candidate, and return
ground and biographical material
e committees.
e groups, would review this
trial, pare their lists to some yet to
;reed upon number, and submit
final lists to the Regents. The
would be submitted anonymously-
event the Regents from weighing
group's list more heavily than
ber's just because of the identity of
oembers of the group.
p main problem with this method
at the Regents would not be bound
k a new president from any of the
If they so choose, they may
ftly consider candidates of their
and select one of them without
Japut from faculty or students.
recognize that the Regents have
pke in who becomes the new
dent, but it seems wholly unjust
hem to be able to choose someone

-without at least hearing the students'
and faculty's views on the person. We
are not opposed to the Regents making
the final decision, as long as the choice
is made from a list of candidates that
has been carefully scrutinized by all
interested parties - faculty, students,
alumni, and regents. Therefore, we
suggest the following process be
The three current committees -
student, faculty and alumni. - would
be retained, but a fourth group would
be added - the Regents. The groups
would now follow the same procedure
of submitting names to Mr. Wagman
who would in return supply the
committees with biographical
The four groups would now meet
together to hear each other's views on
the preliminary lists, and taking their
counterpart's . opinions into
consideration, each group would pare
its list to some agreed-upon number.
Then, the regent, student and faculty
committees would each choose two
representatives to form the final'
selection committee.. The reason for
the exclusion of the alumni is that they
would be less affected by the final
We believe their interests would be
equitably satisfied by simply being
allowed to submit names, and to
scrutinize the other committee
choices. This final selection comntittee
would discuss and review all those
recommended by the individual
groups. Ideally, these names would
also be made public, so as to solicit
reaction and response from the
campus community -at large. The
committee would then submit a final
list of a specified number of
candidates, ranked in order of
preference, to the Regents for final
selection. The Regents would agree to
be bound to choose a new president
only from the recommendations.
In this way, the Regents' right to
select the new president would be
preserved, while the students' and
faculty's right to scrutinize and
respond to all potential candidates
would not be denied. Only a system
which guarantees both rights, along
with the public's right to have input
into the decision, is democratic, and
just. And only such a procedure will
assure a president sensitive to all the
needs of the campus community, not
just those of the Regents.

Gary Gilmore, the last person
executed in the United .States,
wanted desperately to die. John
Spenkelink, who may well be the
next, wants just as desperately to
But a federal appeals court in
August rejected Spenkelink's
appeal from a Florida murder
conviction, leaving the 29-year-
old drifter with only one more
option-an appeal to the U.S.
Supreme Court, which already
has ruled Florida's death penalty
law constitutional.
Of the more than 400 people on
death rows across the country,
Spenkelink'scase is the furthest
advanced through legal channels.
Florida Gov. Reubin Askew has
signed the warrant for his
execution, which could occur by
the end of the year.

Some (stdtes)

By Art Goldberg and Nan Blitman


as Maine, Mmnesota and
Wisconsin, have not
had capital punish-
ment for more than
60 years, with no ap-,

escape from a California prison.'
Syzmankiewicz also had a long
criminal record.
The record is probably what
impelled a reluctant Gov. Askew
to pick out Spenkelink from nine
capital cases and sign the death
Ironically, there are two
condemned prisoners in Florida
who want to die, but their cases
have not yet been fully processed
through a mandatory review
Publicly, Askew favors capital
punishment. But he has said
privately that he hopes no one is
executed while he is stifl in office.
His term ends in January, but
Florida officials believe the
executon could come before then
if the U.S. Supreme Court denies
his appeal.
This would give Askew the
option of either allowing the
execution to go forward while he
is still governor or commuting
the sentence. Like a growing
number of public officials, Askew
appears to have doubts about
capital punishment.
IN THE PAST two years, Govs.
Hugh Carey of New York, Jerry
Brown of California, Ray Blanton
of Tennessee, Brendan Byrne of
New Jersey, Marvin Mandel of
Maryland and Milton Shapp of
Pennsylvania have all vetoed
death penalty bills, even though
public opinion favors such
legislation, by about two to one,
according to public opinion polls.
Currently, 32 states have valid
death penalty statutes. Some,
such as Maine, Minnesota and
Wisconsin, have not had capital
punishment for more than 60
years, with no appreciable higher
homicide rate than neighboring
states with death penalty laws.
Even the Supreme Court has
trouble with capital punishment.
In 1972 it struck down most
existing death penalty laws,
saying they were
unconstitutional because they

were being arbitrarily and
discriminatorily applied. At that
time eight of the nine justices
said they personally opposed
capital punishment.
MANY STATES, including
Florida, then rewrote their death
penalty laws. -In '1976 the high
court seemed to reverse itself. It
held that capital punishment
could be constitutional if it was
carried out under clear,
consistent guidelines, but it was
not made mandatory.
Once again, it invalidated a
large amount of death penalty
laws, but upheld those in Florida,
Georgia and Texas.
In 1977 the Supreme Court
ruled that no one could be
sentencedto death for rape or
kipnapping. In July 1978 it
ordered states to restructure
laws so that a defendant could
present to the sentencing judge
the widest possible range of
mitigating factors about his
character, record or
circumstances of the crime.
The 1978 decision removed 140
people from death row and
invalidated death penalty laws in
Ohio, Arizona and Pennsylvania.
"It may be that although the
Supreme Court has found the
death penalty constitutional, it
may find no constitutional way to
apply it," observed Henry
Schwarzchild of the American
Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),
which has long opposed capital
SPENKELINK'S attorneys
are expected to lean heavily on
the 1978 Supreme Court decision
in their appeal and argue that th
jury had recommended the death,
sentence and the judge who
imposed it were not able to
consider all the mitigating
ciircumstances in the case.
They will also contend that his
sentence was a reaction to an
abnormal zeal to apply the death
penalty, which had been enacteed



homicide rates than
neighboring states
with death penalty
punishment, fearful that
Spenkelink's death in Florida's
electric chair might set off a
"bloodbath" of state-sanctioned'
executions, have begun
scrambling for new arguments to
present to the high court.
Ray Marky, Florida's assistant
attorney general, disagrees with
the bloodbath notion. "There was
no bloodbath after Gary Gilmore
was shot," he said, "although
many people predicted there
would be."
Florida has more than 100
people on death row; eight are in
the final stages of appeal.
Before Gilmore was shot by a
Utah firing squad in January
1977, no one had been executed in
the United States in 10 years.
Many legal observers believe
that Gilmore would still be alive
had he not abandoned his right to
appeal and demanded to be shot.
Spenkelink; however, has
maintained from the outset that
he accidentally shot his
traveling companion, Joseph
Syzmankiewicz, during a scuffle
in a Tallahassee motel room
while trying to reclaim money he
says Syzmankiewicz stole from
older, more forceful companion
made him commit acts of sodomy
at gunpoint and forced him to
participate in games of Russian
Like Gilmore, Spenkelink is
white and has a long criminal
record, including two armed
robbery convictions and an

in Florida just before
Spenkeink's 1973 crime.
"John's is not a traditbnal
death penalty-type case," said
one of his.attorneys, Joel Beger
of the Legal Defense Fund o the
National Association for the
Advancement of Colored Peple
(NAACP). "The death penalty is
usually reserved for people who
kill total strangers, either duing
a robbery, or in sme
particularlu grueome fashioa.
"There have been a'lot nastier
cases in Florida where it hasnot
been imposed. Courts generally
don't hand down death sentenes
when the victim and perpetrator
have known each other.
torneys will also try to save thir
white client by arguig,
ironically, that Florida's capia
"It may be thet
although the Supreme
Court has found tlIe
death penalty con-
stitutional, it may
find no constitutional
way to apply it... ."
-Henry Schwartz
child (ACLU
punishment law is racially biased
against blacl. They probably
will ask the Supreme Court to
overturn the Florida law
because, under it, 90 percent of
those sentenced to deati have
been killers of whites, whe only
8 per cent were killers of >lacks.
They will say that kill's are
rarely sentenced to die when
their victim is black.
Robert Shevin, Flirida's
attorney general, a lending
proponent of capital punisiment
and a strong candidate to suceed
Askew as governor,sdeems such
argumets "frivolous" deaying
tactics. And Assistant atty.
Gen. Marky is confident the purt
will find Florida's death pemlty
law constitutional once again.
"All I know is that 60 per cet of
the people on death row in
Florida are white" Marky sd,
"and our laws must take into
account a person's age, any
economic or cultural deprivation
they may have suffered and
many other factors tefore they
can be sentenced to death:"
Nationally, about lalf of all
death row inmates are black, but
blacks comprise 11 percent of the
population. They omiise about
23 per cent of Florida's
Marky said the deati penalty is
a deterrent. "It's not omething
that I can prove to yoi though,
he said. "Statisticallythere are
just too many variable. Bit I do
know this. It will eter the
person who is executed rom ever
killing again."

Art Goldberg, a former
editor at Ramparts and
Agence France-Press, writes
regularly for Pacifi News
Service. Nan Blitmaz is a
lawyer who specializesin legal
matters for Pacific N'ews

' mo e
Pu E3 w c.

It's not my job-you do it.

. .

Letters to the Daily

To The Daily:

.1 1 =77 o



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1 ,

Daily labor reporter Mitch Cantor has done
it again! Whenever an important campus
labor event occurs, Daily readers can count
on Cantor to write something absolutely inane
about it. Cantor's commentary on the Sep-
tember 15 labor/student demonstration
("Campus labor solidarity: Much talk little
action", September 22) is no exception. In this
letter, we want to take up two of Cantor's
more glaring mistakes: 1) his lack of under-
standing of labor solidarity, 2) his lack of un-
derstanding of union democracy.
The title of Cantor's article suggests that he
would like to see campus solidarity move
from talk to action. Having fought for that
perspective for several years, so would we.
Cantor, however, says what he means by ac-
tive campus labor solidarity. The reason is
simple; he doesn't know. Our view of the mat-
ter is that the campus unions must solidarize
with each other using the only really effective

CANTOR HAS no more understanding of
real democracy than he does of real labor
solidarity. He puts forward the classic reac-
tionary argument against democracy:
democracy means weakness. "It is hard to
see how labor groups are supposed to join for-
ces and become stronger when each group is
plagued with internal dissension." To this he
adds a classic piece of red-baiting against the
militant caucuses in the campus unions:
"These caucuses campaign for their own
goals at a rally intended to unify labor for-
ces." What goals? Cantor, of course, doesn't
Well, what goals were the three militant
caucuses campaigning for a the September 15
demonstratign? In immediate terms, the
most important goal was a campus-wide
strike in March 1979, i.e. moving campus
labor solidarity from talk to action. What bet-
ter place to campaign for campus labor.
solidarity in action than at a campus labor

own petty privileges and powers. The pesent
leaderships of both AFSCME Local 158 and
GEO have consistently opposed a strikteven
by their own organizations. They are terified
of the idea of a campus-wide strike. Caapus
labor might win for a change and horors!
That might make management mad. A the
September 15 demonstration only the )CC
spokesperson endorsed the perspective f a
campus-wide strike.
THIS IS WHERE democracy comes in In
Local 1583 and GEO the leaderships oppse
active campus labor solidarity. What can he
proponents of active labor solidarity do? Thy
have no choice but to use the democracytf
their unions to fight politically against tie
misleaderships of those unions. How can tts
be done? Only by forming militant caucuss
for causing "dissension," Cantor says, in -
fect; democracy is fine so long as nobody use
it. This is consistent with his real position di
campus labor solidarity: action is fine so lonj
as nobody does anything.



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