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February 04, 1978 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1978-02-04

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ipage 4-Saturday, February 4, 1978-The Michigan Daily
[4
Eighty-Eight Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
EmyavXXXVMI, No. 104
News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

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Although many Ann Arborites
are still bathing in the glow of last
week's Michigan Supreme Court
decision which said that-20 town-
ship residents will not have to re-
veal how they voted in last
spring's disputed mayoral elec-
tion, their elation may still be a
little premature for one very
basic reason.
We're still not sure who won the
election or who the rightful
mayor of Ann Arbor really is.
TO BACK UP a minute for
those of you who have been hi-
bernating for the last 10 months,
last April 4th an election was held
in which incumbent Democrat Al-
bert Wheeler defeated Republi-
can 5th Ward Councilman Louis
Belcher by one vote; 10,560 to
10,559. Socialist Human Rights
Party (SHRP) candidate Diana
Slaughter received 356 votes.
The one vote victory held up
through two recounts, but in May
Belcher filed suit against Wheel-
er, charging that he was holding
the mayor's office illegally be-
cause of a number of disputed
ballots, including a number of pa-
per (absentee) ballots and an al-
legedly malfunctioning voting
machines.
Then, in late June, the city is-
sued a report done by a student
intern which admitted that, be-
cause some city registrars used
faulty street guides, over 150 peo-
ple were registered to vote in the
city who actually lived in some of
the township islands - pieces of
land which jut into the city but

are not actually part of the city.
Of these people, 20 actually
voted.
THE VOTERS, who later be-
came known as "the township
20," along with three other people
who were city residents but incor-
rectly registered, were all incor-
porated into Belcher's suit and
City Clerk Jerome Weiss was
named as a co-defendant along
with Wheeler.
By August, when subpeonas for
the 20 were issued, three of the
voters had left the state. When
the trial resumed in , early Oc-
tober, Robert Henry, Belcher's
lawyer, asked visiting Judge
James Kelley to be allowed to ask
the 17 to tell how they voted.
After some consideration of
both sides of the argument, Kelly
consented, and Susan VanHat-
tum, a 21-year-old University
junior was called to the stand.
She balked, however, at saying
how she cast her vote, claiming
she had a constitutional right to
keep it a secret.
KELLEY ORDERED her
handcuffed, and she was held in
his chambers while the next three
witnesses were called, two of
whom said they voted for Wheel-
er, and one for Belcher.
Graduate student Diane Lazin-
sky, the next witness, also re-
fused to tell, and the trial was re-
cessed while lawyers for VanHat-
tum and Lazinsky took the case to
the Court of Appeals.

By Julie Rovner

In November, the Court handed
down a ruling stating that the
voters, since they had cast their
votes illegally, had no right to the
privacy of the ballot.
THE LAWYERS immediately
went to the State Supreme Court,
which ruled last week that th'e
Constitution provides a right to a
secret ballot which cannot be ab-
rogated without evidence of
fraud.
So justice has prevailed, but we
still don't know who the mayor is.
Judge Kelley is now faced with
one less alternative, but he still
must decide the fate of Belcher's
suit. Several proposals have been
suggested, but only one, the void-
ing of the election, really makes
sense.
THE OTHER PROPOSALS -
including one which would have
the 17 go into a room and. re-vote,
and another which would sub-
tract illegal votes from the can-
didates' tallies on a proportionate
basis - are basically flawed in
that they still allow 17 non-resi-
dents to determine the outcome
of an election.
The proportion idea obviously
involves nothing more than some
educated guesswork. For ex-
ample, if in Ward A, ten of 100
votes cast were illegal, with
Belcher receiving 60 and Wheeler
40, six would be subtracted from
Belcher's total and four from
Wheeler's. This assumes that the
illegal votes were cast in the

exact same proportion as the
legal ones.
THE IDEA OF sending the 17
into a room and having them drop
a piece of paper containing the
name of the person they voted for
in April is a popular one. It too, is
flawed, though, because there
would be no way ever to prove
which person voted for who. This
would amount to anonymous se-
cret testimony, something which
is not generally admissible in the
American system of justice.
The other major fault with both
proposals is that even if we could
determine how the 17 voted, we
will never know how the three
who have since left town voted,
and hence, can never really know
who won.
The main complaint with void-
ing the current election results
and holding a new election is the
expense such an act might incur.
It is estimated that a new election
could cost as much as $30,000.
This, however,. is nothing more'
than a weak excuse, since the city
has elections coming up in April
anyway. While the cost of adding
Wheeler's and Belcher's names
to the ballot would not be insig-
nificant, it seems a small price to
pay for 100,000 people to know,
finally, who their mayor really is.
Julie Rovner covers City Af-
fairs for the Daily, and has
closely followed the 1977
mayoral election and its after-
math.

he boycott

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IN 1970, THE FIELDS of California
became the ground on which a'
young migrant workers union, strug-
gling for survival, began fighting or-
ganized labor. The Teamsters Union
was threatening to overrun a small but
spirited-army of field hands who had
organized into a group called the United
Farm Workers (UFW).
Teamsters were using their vast re-
sources to muscle in on lettuce and
grape farm workers in California and
sign them away from the UFW. The
Farm Workers union was having
enough difficulties just trying to get
growers to allow the formation of field
hand unions, and the new competition
required bold new tactics.
So Cesar Chavez, the UFW leader,
organized a nationwide boycott of Cali-
fornia wines, as well as table grapes
and lettuce. And the struggle spread.
Earlier this week, announcing that
the UFW had achieved many of its
goals for the California farm workers,
Chavez called for an end to the boycott.
Chavez and fellow UFW members
termed the boycott successful, and said
that nationwide efforts had led to the
creation of a law which gave harvesters
the right to secretly vote for member-
ship in the union of their choice, and the
right to engage in collective bargain-
ing.
The law, called the Agricultural
Labor Relations Act of 1975, is now
"alive and functioning," Chavez said. It

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is ensuring the rights that migrant
workers were never entitled to eight
years ago.
But a number of farm workers and
organizers believe that ending the boy-
cott at this time. is premature. They
argue that the Labor Relations Act does
not solve all of the migrant workers
organizing difficulties. Some farm
worker supporters have even charged
the UFW with corruption within its
ranks and growing disregard for its
members.
It is a fact that farm workers in
California have a long way to go before
organizing completely. While the union
has signed 100 contracts since 1975, and
is now working toward signing, 177
more, it still takes an average of 16
months between the union election and
the signing of a contract with growers.
Chavez has said that, when n'ces-
sary, the UFW will conduct label boy-
cotts against companies "who refuse to
bargain in good faith."
That this one boycott has ended does
not mean boycotts are no longer an op-
tional tool toward unionization. For the
present though - as long as migrant
workers are slowly but surely realizing
their rights - it is good that the UFW is
trying to work without the aid of eco-
nomic embargoes.
Perhaps, to everyone's surprise, the
new tactics will speed up cooperation
with California growers, instead of.
slowing it down.

It's apartment-hunting season already,
and if you've started looking for a place in
town to rent for next year, you've probably
-noticed that the prices are getting higher, and
the quality is as bad as ever.
You may be wondering how in hell the
housing situation is ever going to improve.
And if you've been waiting to learn of some
small thing you can do to help make it im-
prove, your chance has come. You can help
by registering to vote in Ann Arbor; so that
you may cast your ballot for the two tenants'
rights proposals which will come before the
voters in the April city election.
THE PROPOSALS, called "Truth in Rent-
ing" and "Fair Rental Information," are
aimed at getting information to tenants about
their legal rights, and at preventing landlords
from misleading tenants about their rights.
When tenants as a group become generally
aware of their rights, they will have at their
disposal a powerful tool to use in dem'anding a
fair shake in the housing market.
If the two proposals pass, they will make it
possible for many tenants who are now unin-
formed to take advantage of the protection
granted them by the law. The proposals would
also pave the way for other progressive legis-
lation in the future to fight the local housing
crisis. The more momentum the tenants'
movement builds, the greater the progress it
will be able to score.
THE "TRUTH IN RENTING" act would
make it illegal for landlords to put misin-
formation about tenants' rights in their
leases. The law would also obligate landlords
to give their tenants written notice of certain
basic information about tenants' rights.
Leases containing misleading clauses are
very common in Ann Arbor. This was proven
by a recent study of Michigan leases con-
ducted by PIRGIM - the Public Interest Re-
search Group in Michigan. Of the Michigan
leases studied by PIRGIM, including a repre-
sentative sampling from Ann Arbor, over 95
per cent were found to contain illegal, un-
enforceable or abusive clauses.
What do these misleading clauses say?
SOme of them tell tenants that upon signing
the lease, they waive the right to a jury trial
in the event they have to go to court with their

Gutting
the A2

housing glut
By Stephen Hersh
tenant advocates. To maintain a balanced
view, the booklet would also contain a section
written by landlord advocates, and a section
written by impartial authors selected by the
mayor. (Because the vaious sections would
contain legal advice, the advocate sections
would be written by or under the supervision
of attorneys.)
The booklet would give tenants easy ac-
cess to information about their rights. There
is an urgent need for such information among
local tenants - this was illustrated by last
year's $39,000 study of Ann Arbor housing,
conducted by the University's Institute for
Social Research (ISR). The ISR survey show-
ed that over 60 per cent of the city's tenants
could not give correct answers to five basic
questions on landlord-tenant law. Some of the
questions which the tenants could not answer
were:
* Can a court order a landlord to give a
tenant a rent reduction if the dwelling is in
need of repairs, and the repairs have not been
done within a reasonable time? (The answer
is yes; 63 per cent of the tenants surveyed
responded, "I don't know," and four per cent
thought the answer is no.)

+ Can a court order a landlord to give a
tenant a rent reduction if the dwelling has had
no heat for several days? (The answer is yes;
69 per cent of the tenants surveyed responded,
"I don't know," and six per cent thought the
answer is no.)
* Can a court ever order a landlord to give
a tenant a rent reduction? (The answer is
yes; 70 per cent of the tenants surveyed re-
sponded, "I don't know," and one per cent
thought the answer is no.)
The Coalition for Better Housing (CB H),
the 'group sponsoring the proposals, has
drawn the backing of various individuals and
groups concerned with tenants' rights. Mayor
Albert Wheeler promised CBH "full support"
in its drive to "amend the Charter as a last
resort to eliminate illegal and misleading pro-
visions from all leases."
AND ANN ARBOR Tenants Union (TU)
Coordinator Susan Van Hattum said "Ten-
ants in Ann Arbor need to know more about
their rights, and need to be protected from un-
fair landlord practices - and the two laws
proposed by CBH would help a lot in those
areas. The TU backs them completely."
Local residents and students should reg-
ister to vote in Ann Arbor, so that they may be
eligible to sign the petitions which will put the
two laws on the ballot, and so that they may
vote for the laws in the April election. Some
local voter registration sites are: City Hall
(at the corner of Huron and Fifth), and the
Tenants Union (on the fourth floor of the
Michigan Union, in Room 4109).
s
Stephen Hersh is community educa-
tion director for the MSA Housing Re-
form Project and a frequent contributor
to the Daily's Editorial page.

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WHERE TO REGISTER.0.
March 3, 1978 is the last day to register in order to
vote in Ann Arbor's April 3 city elections. Below is a
listing of places where you can register:
* * *C**a*
CITY HALL - corner of 5th and Huron St.

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