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April 07, 1974 - Image 3

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1974-04-07

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

editors:
martin porter
tony schwartz
design editor:
rolfe tessem

Sunday

mogazine

contributing editors:
laura berman
howie brick
chris parks

Number 21 Page Three

April 7, 1974

FEATURES

Wechsler,

DeGrieck:

How

it was on

By MARTIN PORTER

T WAS A victory that surprised the
winnersthemselves - a sudden
upset which placed two radical third
party candidates on the Ann Arbor
city council.
The political' scene back in April
1972 seemed frenetic and charged
with enthusiasm. A new faith in the
electoral process had developed and
it .led Human Rights Party candi-
dates Nancy Wechsler and Jerry De
Grieck to unexpected victories in
Ann Arbor's first and second wards.
Two years later the question of
whether or not they have made an
appreciable impact on life and poli-
tics in Ann Arbor is moot. The last
half of their term in office was spent
all but gagged and manacled by a
Republican majority,mand in last
week's city election HRP retained only
one of their two seats. Nonetheless,
De Grieck and Wechsler appear more
optimistic today than when they
were first elected.
"I think I have actually had a lot
more influence than I initially ex-
pected," says De Grieck as he draws
on a Kool. "At the time I really
didn't have much hope. Today I know
that third party politics can work."
Nancy Wechsler echoes this feel-
ing. "When I first ran for office I saw
electoral politics as only a tool that
the left could use. Now I see it as
the key to building a successful left
wing movement."
Now both De Grieck and Wechsler
are calm and secure while voicing
their thoughts. Back in the early days
of their term they appeared confus-
ed and apprehensive. De Grieck says
this was due to his inexperience, but
Wechsler admits to feeling added
pressures. "At the time I felt an in-
credible burden. I felt that I had to
prove more than Jerry. I had to prove
myself as a woman-that a woman
could be aggressive."
During their first year in office,
no party had a majority on council.
When De Grieck and Wechsler
teamed up with Democratic council-
persons the control shifted into their
hands. This experience, however, has
not changed their instinctive distrust

"Harris and I were
constantly fighting,"
says Wechsler. "But at
least the arguments
were always political.
Since the Republicans
got into office the
arguments have
become personally
directed. It has become
even worse since Jerry
and I 'came out'."
of Democrats.
"One common thing that people
say about our term in office was that
we forced the Democrats to take a
left stand . . . this may be true but I
have learned that Democrats are
never to be trusted. There is basically
little difference between them and
the Republicans," says Wechsler.
They do sight major differences
between Mayor Jim Stephenson and
ex-Mayor Robert Harris, though.
"Politics with Harris was exciting
and a challenge," says De Grieck, "I
had thought at first that Stephenson
would at least supply some sort of in-
tellectual opposition. But I soon found,
out that he wasn't bright at all."
Wechsler is vehement when she
adds, "Harris and I were constantly
fighting but at least the arguments
were always political. Since the Re-
publicans got into office the argu-
ments have become personally direct-
ed. It has become even worse since
Jerry and I 'came out'."
Both Wechsler and De Grieck con-
sider last August's public announce-
ment that they were homosexual as a
turning point in their relations with
the Republican city council.
DE GRIECK indignantly claims,
"The fact that there were two

Council
radical city councilpersons was hard
enough for them to take. But the fact
that there were two radical gay city
councilpersons was unbearable. Ste-
phenson tried to label HRP as the gay
party. Throughout the last weeks of
the election he tried to use the com-
munity's homophobia against our
party."
Neither seem concerned that their
'coming out' might have been politic-
ally inopportune. "If we ever lost an
election because of if I still wouldn't
regret my decision," Wechsler says.
"If we were looking at it strictly in
terms of votes, obviously we wouldn't
have done it."
The complaint that their closeness
to the gay movement has directed
their attention away from other ra-
dical issues in the community is un-
warranted, they claim.
Wechsler expresses surprise at the
accusation. "We were always active
in the gay movement. Even before we
'came out' we worked for gay rights.
Back then nobody made this claim.
I consider gay rights only one of the
many causes that I have to fight for."
De Grieck sees this accusation as
another Republican ploy to divide the
radical community. "I have seen this
throughout the last year. Stephenson
has found that pitting us in opposi-
tion to the black movement and the
women's movement he can sap our
strengths and force us to fight among
ourselves."
A two year tally lists the $5 mari-
juana ordinance, revenue sharing
and the human rights ordinance as
their major victories on council.
Aided by De Grieck's backroom
bargaining the city budget was re-
apportioned to include greater em-
phasis on social services. Among the
groups receiving more money were:
Drug Help, Ozone House, Community
Center, child care, Women's Crisis
Center, Free Clinic. The Human
Rights Ordinance was written and
supported by both Wechsler and De
Grieck. Its passage marked the first
time equality for minorities, includ-
ing homosexuals, was required by
law rather than supported by resolu-
tion.

Jerry DeGrieck being sworn into office in

1972

In addition, they claim that they
have broken down the stodgy formal-
ity of city council meetings and have
at times used it as a forum for such
larger issues as impeachment and the
coup d'etat in Chile.
"We've tried to open up city coun-
cil to the community. If that was all
we had accomplished during the two
years, I would be satisfied," says De
Grieck.
LIFE AS A council person has had
its drawbacks both Wechsler and
De Grieck say, and at times became
personally straining.
"It became unbearable constantly
talling politics. It got to a point
where I didn't tell people that I was
on council, because once they knew,
they would only deal with me in that
perspective."
An additional strain which Wech-
sler felt was the fact that her mother
was very ill and died during the
council term. "I was being torn in

two ways. It was inevitable that my
energy couldn't go fully into my
work. At times I felt like I couldn't
get out of the political mold and this
was torture."
As for the future neither De Grieck
nor Wechsler has definate plans. De
Grieck plans to travel out West.
Wechsler hints that she will head
East to live. Both claim that they will
still be politically active but neither
is interested in pursuing a public po-
litical career in the near future.
De Grieck feels that "too much of
a public life has a tendency to make
you warped and twisted. It was a
great experience but the experience
wouldn't grow if I had to be in office
another term. Some people use poli-
tics as a cop-out so that they don't
have to deal with other problems with
their life."
Wechsler's reaction is similar,
"Right now I want to take a rest. Its
hard living under constant scrutiny
and criticism. I thought for a while

about running for public office again,
but I want to look at life from a dif-
ferent perspective for awhile."
"I think that we broke some ground
in Ann Arbor," De Grieck later adds,
"But there is no reason why things
shouldn't continue like they are. HRP
shouldn't be dependent on any one
individual because once that happens
the whole thing becomes an ego
trip - no different from Democratic
and Republican party politics."
"What you have to remember,"
Wechsler waxes philosophically, "is
that HRP is more than a story of two
people. Our turn is up but this doesn't
mean that the story comes to an end.
The story is just beginning."
Martin Porter is outgoing editor of the
Sunday Magazine. He will be pursuing his
craft this summer in the sunny south,
where he will be a reporter at Reg Mur-
phy's Atlanta Journal.

Amnesty question dominates fives of exiled war resi

ters

By SANDY HAUSMAN

WHEN THE POW's began returning
tHEthe U. S. from Vietnam, the
subject of a possible amnesty for war
resisters came alive. A few months
later, it was nearly forgotten again,
as the nation plunged into Watergate
and a thousand energy-related prob-
lems.
This month, however, the amnesty
question was back, prompted by three
days of Congressional hearings in
Washington. Thousands of war resist-
ers and deserters dared to hope
again for an amnesty.
Some guess there are 15-20,000
draft dodgers and deserters in Can-
ada, with an additional 5,000 over-
seas. Still shakier estimates put the
number of men underground in the
United States at 200,000 with around
half a million vets facing a tight job
market with less than honorable dis-
charges (often resulting from an
anti-war act).
Each of these groups might be in-
cluded in an- amnesty, and some
would benefit by it more than others.
The Canadian exiles have probably
had it easier than other groups of
dodgers and dissenters, but even they
would be glad to see a government
move started toward reconciliation.
Bruce Bolin left Michigan for Tor-
onto in 1968. He and his wife, Janet,
hnA imf o~rr~i $i~tAAfrn V1amo7nnb

What is perhaps most disturbing about the
question of amnesty for these people is not so
much the fact that there is none, but rather the
fact that the issue remains unsettled. "The possi-
bility of going back to one's own country disrupts
the exile's adjustment to life in a new country,"
according to one Toronto psychiatrist.

job at the University of Toronto, and
Janet was working for the city. Now,
after a five-year wait, they've been
granted Canadian citizenship, and
recently they bought their first
house. Things are good for the Bo-
lins - they don't even think of mov-
ing back to the United States.
"We certainly were lonely when we
first came up here," Bruce admits.
"But that would have happened any-
way, since all our college friends dis-
persed. Now that we've settled in, we
really like it here. I think, in a lot of
ways, Canada has a better future
than the States."
But even with the satisfaction they
express over life in Toronto, the Bo-
lins would like to see an amnesty. As

young. He'd like to be able to come
and stay with us there during the
summers."
But, for the junior Bolins, a con-
ditional amnesty - requiring years
or months of public service - would
not be good enough. Bruce argues
that serving a term in order to come
back for visits would be like admit-
ting a kind of guilt for what he and
other draft dodgers did.
Women wouldn't have to do public
service, men who got physical deferr-
ments or were deferred for the min-
istry would not have to chip-in. Why,
he argues, should those who resisted
the war differently have to give up
jobs and homes to do conditional ser-.
vice in the U.S.?

Program or something like that and
got sources to talk to. And the Anti-
Draft Program is only in touch with
people who are having problems. It's
harder to find people like us, but I
suspect our case is pretty typical of
those who came over the border," he
says.
FOR CHARLEY Stimac of Cadillac,
Michigan, and his wife, Jenny of
Detroit, coming back would be more
than a family reunion - it would
mean the restoration of a family tra-
dition.
Charley, who has worked in fac-
tories and gone to school since he
was 15, wants to organize workers at
a Ford plant in Detroit. "My grand-
father was working with labor there
in the 1920's and 30's; he was in on
the initial struggles. My Dad worked
at Ford too," he says.
But for the time being, he and Jen-
ny are doing political work in Can-
ada. Like Bruce and Janet Bolin,
they are content to stay in Toronto.
No conditional amnesty will bring
them back.
Charley says he's been serving the
public for years now, and feels that
his political work is more valuable
than any government-assigned activ-
ities could be.
In the same city, however, there

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