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September 07, 1979 - Image 133

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-09-07

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, September 7, 1979-Page 5-B

awaiting outcomes of
suits from ex-employees

The usually tranquil Ann Arbor City
Hall, preoccupied with such tasks as
filling potholes, does have its share of
Perry Mason drama. The city is in the
process of defending itself against pen-
ding suits by various former em-
One of those is the suit by former City
Accountant Marc Levin, who was fired
for his role in the, 1977 investment scan-
dal, in which Ann Arbor stood to lose up
to $1.4 million. That case is still "pretty
much in limbo," because the city is
trying to get it thrown out of court, ac- ,
cording to Levin's attorney, Lyle
LEVIN HAS filed a complaint-in-
cluding -a charge of character
defamation-against the city in U.S.
District Court.
Russell said Levin was unable to
secure a job in Ann Arbor after his
firirig, and added that the unusual in-
vestment issue was publicized from
coast to coast. P
In 1977 the city conducted arbitrage
transactions-investments in which the
city borrows U.S. treasury notes from a
brokerage firm in hopes of reselling
them for profit-engineered partly by
Levin. City Controller at the time,
Lauren Jedele, and City Administrator
Sylvester Murray claim they were
unaware of the transactions for the
nearly six months when they were
taking place.
THE INVESTMENTS were found to

be illegal, and at the same time proved
financially unsound, nearly costing the
city a large portion of its budget.
Russell claims Levin was used as a
scapegoat, because the accountant was
the only city employee actually fired
following the scandal. Levin is charging
that City Administrator Sylvester
Murray either knew about the invest-
ments all along, or should have known
from reports prepared by his staff.
Murray has maintained that he knew
nothing of the transactions.
Russell said the case is being held up
"by a lack of decison," or the part of
U.S. District Court Judge Patricia
Boyle. Boyle has not yet announced
whether she will comply with the city's
request to dismiss the case.
RUSSELL SAID he is optimistic
about the case. The Detroit attorney
said he thinks a recent U.S. Supreme
Court decision may serve to back up
Levin's claim of defamation.
The definition of defamation of a
private citizen is much stricter than
that of a public figure. In a case in-
volving ,Sen. William Proxmire's (D-
Wisconsin) Golden Fleece Award-a
mock honor -designating the most
wasteful federally-funded project of the
year-the Supreme Court ruled that a
defendant cannot claim the person ac-
cusing him of libel is a public figure if
the alleged libel caused the plaintiff to
become a public figure.
Russell said that if it weren't for the
publicity Levin received for his firing,
the accountant would be relatively
unknown. "The city has made Marc

Levin a public figure," Russell said.
ANOTHER CASE that will keep city
attorneys busy is a suit pending in U.S.
District Court in which a former Plan-
ning Department technician charged
the city with race discrimination.
The Michigan Civil Rights Com-
mission investigated the claim of
technician John Morton that he was
fired because he is black, and recom-
mended that Morton be reinstated with
back pay. The U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development
(HUD) and the U.S. Treasury Depar-
tment are now investigating Morton's
If the city loses the case, it could be
out over $1.5 million in federal revenue
sharing funds. City officials are trying
to negotiate with federal officials to
prevent the funding cutbacks, however.
THE CITY CLAIMS that since none
of its federal revenue sharing funds
were used by the department in
question-the Planning Depar-
tment-the money should not be denied.
The city also faces the, charges of
former City Clerk Jerome Weiss, who
claims the method of his firing was
illegal. Weiss was fired in 1978 for
mismanagement of the city elections.
He was fired by Murray without the
vote of the City Council, and he is suing
on the grounds the City Charter man-
dates Council vote on hirings and
firings of top city officials.
Murray said last month, "I didn't
want to embarrass him with a vote. I do
not doubt what the vote would have

EEOC head says federal affirmative

action efforts behind
WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal In a middle-level grade
government has a worse record of were women and 10 p
providing job opportunities to minorities. In the top
minorities and women than private women and minorities e
business, according to the head of the for no more than five p
Equal Employment Opportunity.Com- workforce on the averag
mission (EEOC). Norton vowed to alt
"It used to be that people who nment's employment r
couldn't find jobs in the private sector presidential order that g
got jobs in the federal government," chief responsibility for
but now the situation is reversed, discrimination in the fez
Eleanor Holmes Norton told a con- ce.
ference of federal civil rights officers UNDER A CARTER
Wednesday. reorganization plan that
"FOR THE FIRST time in history, Jan. 1, the EEOC is coor
the federal sector does not outperform employment programs t
the private sector" on the affirmative
fction front because the government
fias, not held itsel to the tough em-
ployment standards it has set for
private industry, Norton asserted. YOURA
She said many large private com-
panies "would hold their noses up to"
discriminatory federal employment
practices that have been rampant
"essentially because we haven't been
aoing our job."
"I haven't brought federal statistics
on government job bias because I
thought it inappropriate to get started
on a depressing note," Norton told the
officers, who attended the conference to Exactly what
ieceive instructions on how to eliminate Get the Salary
aiscriminatory employment practices The wow
at their agencies. Runs Conar
EEOC AIDES provided 1978 figures From the He%
that showed women and minorities M.B ok an
concentrated in low-ranking, low- whosEva
paying federal civil service jobs. Ad Why
In one low-level government grade, come Back
68 per cent of the employees were Singing
women and 25 per cent were minorities.

private sector's

e, 12 per cent
per cent were
three grades,
ach accounted
per cent of the
er the gover-
ecord under a
ives the EEOC
fighting job
redal workfor-
took full effect
dinating equal
hat previously

were scattered among 15 federal agen-
Prior to this year, the EEOC was
limited to enforcing equal employment
provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in
the private sector.
Norton said equal employment effor-
ts have been more successful in
private business because firms that
lack adequate affirmative action plans
can lose lucrative federal contracts.
The federal government faces no
such penalties, she said, adding that in
some cases, civil service rules may be
illegal by erecting barriers to the hiring
or promotion of women and minorities.

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