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November 08, 1978 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1978-11-08

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-Wednesday, November 8, 1978-The Michigan Daily

3Ii 3id4igan i aiIQ
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Eighty-Nine Years of Editorial Freedom
Vol. LXXXIX, No. 54 News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
Council rules changes

cockrel and Ravitz: Detroit's
establishment Marxists

By Mary Dempsey

(ANN ARBOR City Council
t meetings are a prime example of
"government's distance from the people
hey serve. When confronted with 75
'Item agendas and five and one half
hour meetings it is little wonder that
even the most civic-minded citizen
throws up his arms in disgust after
trying to approach the monolithic
maze acted out on Monday evenings -
and sometimes early Tuesday
'mornings - in city hall.
Council's decision late Monday night
to take a fresh approach in conducting
meetings is an idea whose time came
at least five years ago. On the surface
the changes in Council rules seem to be
a well-intentioned attempt to put the
spirit of the state's Open Meetings act
into the meetings.
0 The first rule change involves public
earings, the most immediate
pportunity for participation of the
ublic in the Council meeting.
urrently public hearings are usually
eld two weeks in advance of the final
ote on a proposal. John Q. Public had
attend the lengthy sessions twice to
oice his opinion and second to see if
ny of the members sitting around
e table take citizen advice into
onsideration when voting. The rule
hange adopted by council Monday
ight will }mandate that public
earings be held on the same night of
nal vote on resolutions. The effect of
e new rule will be to make the
overnmental process more
mediate and open to the public. It
will also force council members to do
their homework before the public
hearing so they will be more than just
idle listeners.
The second change adopted by
Council is also an important
impriovement. Current
communications from the City
Administrator and the Mayor are
heard during the last quarter of the
meeting. When meetings are long this
means John Q. Public has to wait until
midnight or the early morning to hear
important messages from the two most
powerful men in city hall.
The rule change mandates that these'
communications will occur near the
beginning of each meeting. This also
represents a significant improvement
to attend council meetings or watch
them on cable television.
Council made a mistake in not
eracting Councilwoman Leslie Morris'
proposal to have three regular council
sessions per month and one working
session rather than the present two
regular sessions and two working

sessions. The working session of
Council average about two and a half,
hours in length while the regular
sessions are at least four hours. Three
regular sessions would logically
shorten those meeting agendas of those
meetings.
Resolutions would likely receive
more attention and shorter meetings
would be easier for the average citizen
to digest.,
But the council must move beyond
the rules changes adopted Monday
night to create meetings responsive to
the community. Meetings that will not
overwhelm the average voter with
their length and complexity.
Mayor Louis Belcher, who chairs the
meetings, must enforce a
germaneness rule. In the, past Mr.
Belcher has cautioned Council
members that if they do not speak to
the issue at hand they will be cut off.
Unfortunately, Mr. Belcher is one of
the chief violators of this rule. While he
is a more effective chairman than ex-
Mayor Albert Wheeler, Mr. Belcher is
also disposed to long winded partisan
tirades that obscure the point rather
than magnifying them. Mr. Belcher
can not enforce germaneness if he does
not abide by it himself.
Council members should have some
mercy on the public by reducing the
personal attacks that riddle nearly
every debate on every resolution.
Council member Ken Latta (D.-First
Ward) is the most clear example of a
well-tempered legislator the chamber
has seen in several years. Speaking to
the issue is an important facet of the
art of persuasion and Mr. Latta is
clearly aware of it. Other Council
members should learn the art from
him.
Council members should also go
beyond their present attempts to
insure that proposals are formulated in
legal order. Too much time is wasted
on ironing out the proper wording of
resolutions during meetings. Council
members are paid to do their
homework and the citizens are entitled
to nothing less.
The Ann Arbor City Council serves in
a community that is more involved
than most. It should respect this
initiative. All too often Council
meetings alienate the public with
irrelevant debate and obnoxious
length. The rules adopted Monday
night are a progressive move in the
right direction. But Council can go
much farther, on a more personal
level, to insure the continuing
community input into their meetings.

DETROIT (UPI) - As left-wing radicals in
the 1960s, Kenneth Cockrel and Justin Ravitz
gained notoriety as the activist attorneys of
the black militant and antiwar movements.
Today, Cockrel sits on the City Council, a
champion of many a lost cause who measures
his victories in inches rather than yards.
Ravitz, his white sould brother and former
law partner, is a criminal court judge who
metes out sentences often as stern as his
conservative counterparts but is more lenient
in setting bonds.
Cockrel and Ravitz have become Detroit's
establishment Marxists. .
The fast-talking, but eloquent Cockrel, -
once cited for contempt for berating a judge
as a "honky dog fool" - still considers
himseld a black militant. At 39, his afro
hairdo is graying but he is as streetwise as
ever.
He has shown a surprising willingness to
compromise with his colleagues during the
generally dull, day-topday proceedings of the
council, realizing this is the only way he can
wield any influence.
the sloe-eyed, Nebraska-born Ravitz used
to wear Levis and cowboy boots under his
judicial robes. He banned-the U.S. flag from
his courtroom to protest the 1970 Cambodia
incursion and would not display "Old Glory"
until ordered to do so by the state Supreme
Court.
But the 38-year-old jurist has earned the
respect of prosecutors and defense attorneys
alike for his fairness and judicial know-how.
He takes a defendant's stability into
consideration in setting bonds - going as low
as $600 in one murder case.
As avowed Marxists, Cockrel and Ravitz
said they do' not necessarily feel out of step
with the political establishment in an
industrial city identified nationally as a
bastion of labor clout and springboard of
racial causes.
"You've got to look at the times," said
Cockrel, just 10 months into his first term on
council. "we've evolved to an era where
Barbara Walters rides around in jeeps in
Cuba with Fidel Castro, and Leonid Brezhnev
hugs Muhammed Ali and Nixon exchanges
cars with Brezhnev and Kosygin.
"The world has become a little smaller and
it's not all that shocking to say you're a
Marxist."
It was Ravitz who paved the groundwork to
Cockrel's easy acceptance into the power
establishment with his election to the bench
six years ago - an event that resulted in a
short-lived community furor.
"The nationwide fear of socialism is
probably receding now," Ravitz said. "For
awhile, a segment - perhaps a significant
segment of the population - thought there
was a middle of the road, some centrist
solutions to the problems of the society. Now
people are going to jump to the right or to the
left."
Detroit itself is a study of contrasts, with a
black mayor, Coleman Young, once

investigated as a suspected communist and
re-elected a year ago with across-the-boa'rd
support from scions of big business.
Cockrel, then a self-described student
revolutionary, met Ravitz, a budding young
attorney, in 1966 - the year before Detroit
was -torn by one of the worst "riots in the
nation's history - while investigating a police
brutality case.
Two years later, they became partners in a
law firm that specialized in left-wing causes.
In one of their most celebrated cases,
Ravitz and Cockrel won acquittals for Alfred
Hibbitt and two other blacks charged with
assault with intent to commit murder in the
1969 New Bethel Baptist Church shootings
that left one policeman dead and another
wounded.
It was in that case that Cockrel was cited
for contempt for calling the presiding judge a
"racist honky" and a "honky dog fool"
when he doubled Hibbitt's bail. The contempt
charge was eventually thrown out.
You've got to look at the
times. We 'ye evolved to an
era where Barbara Walters
rides around in jeeps with'
Fidel Castro, and Leonid
Brezhnev hugs Mohammed
Ali, and Nixon exchanges
cars with Brezhnev and
Kosygin ... It's not all that
shocking to say you're a
Marxist.
-Councilman Ken Cockrel
As a judge, Ravitz helped develop
procedures designed to prevent the detention
of citizens for longer than 12 hours without
being charged.
He prides himself on the dignity of his
courtroom and locks out all vestiges of
intimidation. Before trials, he shakes hands
with jurors and introduces himself as they
enter the courtroom.
After his partner joined the establishment,
Cockrel remained in the limelight as
champion of the underdog in a number of
racially sensitive cases.
Two years ago, he defended black Flint
policewoman Madeline Fletcher, accused of
shooting her white male partner during an
argument over who would drive their squad
car. She pleaded self-defense, claiming she
had been a victim of both sex and race
discrimination, and was acquitted.
Cockrel doesn't see his job on the council as
conflicting with his political ideology. He has
voted against tax breaks for Detroit's
influence-wielding auto companies and

campaigned for city-owned utilities - losing
in both cases. On other less-radical matters,
he has used compromise as a successful
bargaining tool.
Both vehemently dispute even the
suggestion that they have lost their dedication
to Marxism. r:-
"I don't think I've changed," said the eve-
gesturing Cockrel. "I'm still a socialist. I'm
probably cleaner now in my ideology thanI
have been before because I've had much
more in the way of practice. "The conditions
have changed. In the 60s - think of-a trip to
China. Now everyone goes to China - you'r~e
invited.
"We've got neutron bombs that kill the
people and leave the buildings. We've got
inflation at the same time as unemployment.
A lot of the perception of what people have of
a militant has changed."'a
Cockrel said, "The conditions haVe
changed. My politics have not changed."
Ravitz, who speaks slowly with a Midwest
twang, finds his task as an enforcer of justice
in a system he opposes a little tougher
"It can seem like a contradiction to a lot of
people," he said. "I've sent a lot of people to
prison who are, as you will, political
prisoners.
"I have to choose between further
victimization of the defendant by sending hiu
to the joint - knowing it won't do him an'
good - or alternatively setting him loos
back out here where, unfortunately, its
predictable that he's going to' victimize
others.
"One just has to be able to assume some
responsibilities. I wouldn'd call it a
compromise of my beliefs."
Cockrel, a native Detroiter who got a law
degree without finishing high school, seems
the more politically ambitious of the two.
He frequently is mentioned as a mayoral
possibility - when Young completes his
tenure - or an eventual successor to black
congressman Charles Diggs Jr., a Democrat
whose political career is in jeopardy by his
conviction in a $66,000 payroll kickback
scheme.
"There's no grand strategy," Cockrel said.
"I did not run for council as a deliberate
stepping-stone to position myself for anything
else. But the options exist and I'm as
ambitious as anyone else.
"I'm in politics because I want to be
effective as an instrument of change. I'm
concerned with redressing the imbalance of
power that exists between poor and working
people and the Henry Ford's and David
Rockefeller's of the world."
Ravitz has more than four years left in what
he jokingly called "a 10-year sentence." He
said he would like to see more socialists
elected to office.
"There's something I gave thought to - if
it's possible for us to fashion a slate to win all
the seats in some governmental unit to'tak
over the institution in a positive way," Ravitz
said. "I can see the potential for lots of really
meaningful, progressive people in politics.
constitution. As a law student and ah
opponent of judicial legislation, I sincerely
believe Roe v. Wade to be the very worst
decision the Supreme Court has handed down
since Dred Scott - bad for the very same
reasons Dred Scott-was bad.
I very much hope that your fears as to th
outcome of the abortion case presented befor
the Court are realized beyond your most
terrifying nightmares. It would be a fitting
tribute to the perceptiveness and
persuasiveness of your reasoning. However-,
since sober legal scholars with unhaunte
minds will make to the Court far more honesi
and plausible arguments for your position
than you have bothered to present, I hold very
little hope that they will be.
* -Gregory Hill
Critic assailed

I

r

I

Letters to

The

1

i t

44
i..
.;
n,

>2

'Confessions' bared
To the Daily:
I am writing to your despicable publication
in order to register a complaint against your
latest outrage. Yes, I am referring to that
obscenely frank and honest piece by Seymour
Wishman entitled "Confessions of a Trial
Lawyer," which you so audaciously saw fit to
print on your political page, Tuesday, October
31, 1978.
My God! How irresponsible can you get?
You elite student journalists, more than
we common members of the student body,
should realize that society cannot withstand
the onslaught of such N-A-K-E-D truth as
presented in Wishman's article.
When Wishman is asked how he can defend
a man who murdered his two year old child by
beating her with whips and sticks, it is your
duty to print his "bullshit" answers, like,
"someone has to do it" and "I've got to eat,
don't I?" You do everyone a disservice when
you allow it to be known that "sometimes,
late at night, I think back to when I entered
law school filled with high expectations and
principles - several hundred criminals ago.
And I wonder about what I have done and
whether this is how one should be spending his
time."
Holy Jesus! What are those dudes hanging
out at the law quad, busily compromising
their principles to think? Worse than the fact
that some of them might decide not to
continue with the law, is the possibility that
one of them might insist upon keeping his
principles and being a lawyer too! What
would happen to the legal profession then?
But it is not only the law that is at stake
here. There are other professions to consider
as well. What would happen to business,
medicine and science if idealistic students
pursuing these studies were to be influenced
by Wishman's disclosures? In short, dear
elite student journalists, your irresponsible
act could lead to a bloody revolution - a
complete redefining of society - and that

called "philosophical" commentaries on the
mental habits of U of M's students. Last
Sunday, when the blond-haired gentleman
challenged Richard Robinson's views
concerning the "superficial minds"of our
students, by claiming that Mr. Robinson's
mind was just as superficial as those he
wished to condemn, the student was
repeatedly assailed with claims that he was a
"white honky" and a "blue-eyed faggot" (and
other racially based epithets). "Dr. Diag"
approached the student ominously to where
he stood on the steps of the Graduate Library.
As the student attempted to walk away after
being hailed with the previously mentioned
labels he was stunned by a fist that was
driven straight into his chest, and a bit of
roughing up besides.
It is obvious that the constitutional right to
free speech is the sole reason that "dr.
Diag's" irritating harangues are allowed to
continue in the "Diag". But when all of his
pseudo-intellectual attacks are found to be
reducible to un urmitigated black-white
hatred, I wonder whether the administration,
students and citizens of this town might not
reconsider their tolerance for an individual
who physically attacked a non-violent
student on Sunday, November 5; a student I
might add, who like "Dr. .Diag", is also
protected by the first amendment of our Bill
of Rights.
* -Joe Arc
Teen rights
To the Daily:
Your editorial "The Rights of Teenagers",
published on November 1, could only have
been composed on Halloween, hopefully while
all of the Daily's editorial staff were under the
influence and had spooks and goblins on the
mind. Surely someone on your staff (when
sober) knows that the Warren Court
consistently refused to conjure up a
constitutional right to have an abortion: that.
was done by the Big, Bad Burger-men
themselves in Roe v Wade, an opinion

To the Daily:
Joshua Peck's recent "review" of Man of
La Mancha is one of the poorest examples of
journalism I have seen to date. Mr. Peck
apparently does not know the meanings of the
words review or criticism. Both of these
words imply a constructive and objective
response. Mr. Peck's comments are lacking
in both objectivity and constructivism. it
seems evident that he is acting out some kind
of personal vendetta against Musket.
I have not yet seen Musket's production of
Man of La Mancha and am not setting my
subjective opinions against Mr. Peck's. My
criticisms are derived from the fact that Mr.
Peck constantly finds fault with the
production without backing up his
condemnations. He claims that "not a one of
these actors genuinely believes a word he/she
is saying." Mr. Peck does not bother to
support this comment with any justifications.
He accuses Jim Stern of directing the "worst
fight scene" on an Ann Arbor stage and yet he
never explains where the problem lies.
Mr. Peck's comments could have been
written without ever seeing the performance.

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