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March 31, 1978 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1978-03-31

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Page 4-Friday, March 31, 1978-The Michigan Daily
Ybr Aidhwn OafI
Eighty-Eight Years of Editorial Freedom
4 420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
hVol. LXXXVIII, No. 143
News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

Why a'Fair Rental'booklet?

Pot bill: One step fo
UST LIKE the little boy who cried to Derezinski,
twolf too many times, so many ment more into
marijuana decriminalization bills the crime. He
hake been introduced and killed in the having entire
staff legislature in the past few years criminal recor
thai few people pay attention anymore.tion.
S9 it should come as no surprise that Derezinski'
thepassage last week of yet another justifiable. The
bilt by the state Senate has been for the possessi
greted with little enthusiasm by of proportion ti
deiminalization supporters. crime.
Smay finally be time, though, for Many young
penletosit'up and take notice, the use of mar
because unlike all of its predecessors, lifestyle, much
offtials in Lansing say this bill has a grandparents
godi chance of becoming law. recreational d
Op the surface the bill, co-sponsored suggest thatr
by state Senators Anthony Derezinski less physiolog
(DEMuskegon) and Jerome Hart (D- alcohol use.
Saginaw), closely resembles the bills Yet many of
Representative Perry Bullard (D-Ann in the state sp
Arbor) has introduced and watched die taxpayers' mo
three times. the drug while]
much more d
The bill would reduce the penalty for remain unenfo
possession of one ounce or less of say they are c
marijuana to $100 dollars and would funded. Many
outlaw jail sentences. A person convic- destroyed by 1
te'd under the plan would pay the fine in prison terms.
a sinilar fashion as he would a traffic But there a
ti ket - a system being used suc- Derezinski-Ha
c sfully in Oregon, New York, and a touched state
hirdful of other states. public use of m
bi addition, the bill stipulates that a drug. It is only
co yicted person would have no per- for possessio
m~ient criminal record and that no penalties for
lopal government could pass a law likewise be libe
making penalties more severe There is littl
gerezinski said the purpose of the has a drug p
bi11 is not. to begin a process which shown that st
wild end with marijuana legalization, tiquated lawsi
bit to save the state time and money problem. That
wbiich could be put to better use. He drance to the f
estinated that it costs the state $1300 to that should tak
pr ecute a person on a dope charge. and parents a
Aother of the bill's aims, according consequences o
carter's human rights
PHIS WEEK, President Carter Kissinger-Nixo
made headlines by mentioning the The. proble
n*b1 to respect human rights during proach, howe
hi visit to Brazil, a noted violator of willingness to
h an rights. rights standar
' uman rights were also in the news Internationa
iAnn Arbor this week, as 15 Iranian receives Carl
s ents began a hunger strike to with skepticis
p .est inhumane conditions in Iranian rights deficie
p ons. which Carter h
e *Ann Arbor strikers joined The most hi
t sands of inmates throughout Iran case involves
g ig without food in protest against defendants in N
Ir .nian human rights violations in a group of non
li 's jails. tivists serving
:his is not the first time the iron- over 200 years
f'Med policies of Iran's dictatorial prosecution wi
Siih and his feared secret police, did not commit
AK, have brought cries of protest Both Attorn
heie at the University of Michigan. and Carter hi
A( is also not the first time that the been asked to i
irpnsistency of Carter's public com- to intervene on
zatment to human rights around the group. Both 1
vrld have been exposed to view. stepped the cas
:Carter is, of c'ourse, to be commen- If the U.S.
dea for raising the issues of human even-handed a
ts to the arena of international wide human ri
ate. Carter's outspokenness on the cleans up its a
an rights question is a refreshing then our cou
c*ange from the public silence of the respect and att

- - -- - ---------- - ---------

is to bring the punish-
line with the severity of
cited cases of students
careers ruined by a
d of a marijuana convic-
positions are
present state penalties
on of marijuana are out
o the seriousness of the
people have accepted
ijuana as a part of their
like their parents and
used alcohol as a
rug. Numerous studies
narijuana use is much
ically damaging than
the police organizations
end a great deal of the
ney pursuing users of
laws sanctioning crimes
amaging to the society
rced because the police
overworked and under-
a young life has been
harsh and unnecessary
re problems with the
rt bill. It would leave un-
laws governing the
arijuana and selling the
logical that if penalties
n are reduced then
the supplier should
e doubt that this society
roblem. But time has
rict enforcement of an-
is not the answer to the
mentality is only a hin-
ree and open discussion
e place between adults
id their children on the
f drug use and abuse.
in-Ford years.
m with Carter's ap-
ver, has been the un-
apply a single human
I to all nations.
i1 public opinion also
te's pronouncements
m because of human
,ncies in this country
as failed to attack.
ighly visible individual
the Wilmington Ten
forth Carolina. They are
i-violent civil rights ac-
prison terms totaling
for an act of arson the
tnesses now admit the 10
ey General Griffin Bell
mself have repeatedly
nvestigate the case and
behalf of the civil rights
have repeatedly side-
begins taking a more
pproach to the world-
ghts problem - and if it
act at home as well -
ntry will deserve the
ention it seeks.

If the "Fair Rental Information" proposal
is passed by the voters of Ann Arbor in Mon-
day's election, the mayor will have the oppor-
tunity to appoint authors of a booklet on
tenants' rights to be written in three separate
sections: one by tenant advocates, one by
landlord advocates, and one by impartial
The new three-section booklet would
replace the tenants' rights booklet which the
city now publishes, and which all local lan-
dlords are required by law to distribute to
their tenants.
Why is the new three-part book needed?
Because the city's current booklet does not
serve tenants well. I find over 25 serious
problems with the book, all of which can be
attributed to the fact that landlords, in whose
economic interest it is to limit tenants'
knowledge of their rights, had an important
influence over the content of every part of the
TENANT ADVOCATES want tenants to be
told as much as possible about their rights, in
as clear a manner as possible. Landlord ad-
vocates, on the other hand, want tenants to
know as little as possible about their rights.
Therefore, the landlord side and the tenant
side have differing ideas of what should ap-
pear in a Rights and Duties of Tenants
The city's current booklet is presented as
an impartial description of local landlord-
tenant law. But the booklet is in fact not im-
partial. It reflects intense partisan pressure
from both the landlord side and the tenant
side. This pressure was hidden, but its effect
on the booklet was very real.0
The over-all result of the landlord influence
on the current booklet is that the booklet is
deceptive, confusing, inaccurate, and incom-
plete. It gives some poor advice, while omit-
ting obvious good advice. The tone of the book
unrealistically describes the landlord as the
friend of the tenant. This portrayal is con-
trary to common sense, as well as contrary to
the experience of every tenant advocate.
One landlord, interviewed a while ago by a
University of Michigan student, bluntly
referred to landlords and tenants as
"natural enemies." While no one wants to
perpetuate that animosity, and while there are
some landlords who are generous to their
tenants and to the community, landlords and
tenants are obviously economic adver-
saries-and any tenants' rights book which
belittles the importance of this fact is not a
good book for tenants.
The benefit of the booklet proposed in "Fair
Rental Information" would be that it would
allow both the landlord and the tenant side to
openly express their views in an uncom-
promised fashion. It would become clear
what landlords want tenants to know, and
what tenant advocates want them to know.
A RIGHTS BOOK can be no better than its
writers. And no matter how skilled and
dedicated its writers, a rights book that is
censored by private interests can be no better
than its censors allow it to be. I speak from
experience, as I have co-authored tenants'
rights books for Ann Arbor. The first time was
in 1973, when then-City Attorney Jerry Lax
and I were co-authors. City Councilhad a
Democrat-Human Rights Party coalition on

By Jonathan Rose
the issue then, and the majority favored a
fairly progressive statement of existing
Mr. Lax and I were able to anticipate the
political reality. We wrote without overt cen-
sorship; but we deleted certain useful
material from our book. We deleted this
material because, although it might have
proved helpful to tenants, the politics of the
situation decreed that we could not tell tenan-
ts that much about their rights.
Very soon after the passage by City Council
of the first tenants' rights booklet, the
Republicans elected a mayor and held a
majority on Council. They immediately voted
to re-write the book. I served on the re-write
committee, along with other tenant advocates
and with landlord advocates. The
Republicans and the landlords spoke fairly
The over-all result of the land-
lord influence on the current
booklet is that the booklet is
deceptive, confusing, inaccu-
rate, and incomplete. It gives
some poor advice, while omit-
ting obvious good advice.
consistently with one voice. There was little if
any disagreement with the accuracy of the
book which Mr. Lax and I had written. But
there was discussion over just how much
tenants ought to know about their rights. For
example, the landlords knew that whereas
University of Michigan Mediation Services
would help tenants get relief for lack of
repairs in their rental units, Legal Aid would
increase tenants' awareness of their rights,
while Tenants Union would work for broader-
based economic justice through collective
negotiation similar to that of labor unions. the
landlords were willing to leave references to
Mediation Services in the book, but they wan-
ted references to Legal Aid and Tenants
Unions deleted. Aftereserious negotiations, a
compromise was struck. Tenants would be
told, about Legal Aid in the booklet, but they
would not be told about their right to join
Tenants Unions. The landlords of Ann Arbor
had censored a book.
The latest tenants' rights book, approved on
December 19, 1977 by City Council, was writ-
ten in such a way as to make it acceptable to a
Republican-majority Council. And although
the book's principal author, ConnieLeClair, is
skilled, dedicated and knowledgeable in the
area of tenants' rights, the book could not
have been better than its de facto censors
allowed it to be.
THE FOLLOWING are examples of the
shortcomings of the booklet: A basic theme of
the book is that a tenanit should always seek
counsel of the landlord before seeing a "third
party" about a complaint, this is simply bad
advice. Tenants should never negoitate with
their landlords without being fully aware of
their rights in the specific situation, and of the
risks, costs, and benefits of asserting those
rights. There are three basic reasons that

tenants must be armed with information not
included in any tenants' rights book, to suc-
cessfully negotiate with their landlords.
One of these reasons is that landlords, being
in the business of handling landlord-tenant
relations, are usually at a considerable ad-
vantage over tenants negotiating alone and
with limited knowledge. -
The second reason is that landlords are
known to assess the amount of information a
tenant has, and to give up only what must be
given up. For example, an uninformed tenant
may decide not to go on rent strike when the
landlord intimidates him by mentioning
"eviction" or "attorneys fees." 'Because of
his weak bargaining position, that tenant
loses the right to require that necessary
repairs be made. The tenant who has legal
advice knows that the mention of eviction and
attorneys fees are no more than illusory
threats in most cases. An attorney can advise
whether the specific tenant's case in an ex-
ception. If it is, the attorney can advise an ap-
propriate cautious settlement approach.
And finally, tenants acting together and
tenants with legal counsel almost always get
better results than tenants acting alone. The
current tenants' rights book advises tenants
that if they discover a clause in their lease
which appears to be unenforceable,
misleading, and unfair, they should bring up
their objection to the lease clause with the
landlord before signing the lease. This advice
is extremely poor for tenants, but .excellent
for landlords. In a city like Ann Arbor which
has an acute housing shortage, landlords can
afford not to rent to tenants who announce in
advance their ability to argue for their rights.
Such a tenant is likely to be advised to look for
a different apartment. A landlord's right to
refuse to rent to a tenant who he feltknewtoo
much about her rights was recently upheld in
a New York Supreme Court case. Tenant
lawyers advise tenants to move in first, and
assert the invalidity of invalid lease clauses
These are just two examples of the many
problems with the city's current tenants'
rights booklet.
The importance of increasing tenants' ac-
cess to information on their rights is agreed.
upon with near unanimity by moderates,
liberals, and radicals. Honest conservatives,
when their consciences and not the landlord
interest groups are guiding them, also seem
to agree philosophically with the goal of in-
creasing consumer information in general.
Tenants, among consumers, are par-
ticularly in need of maximum information
about their rights. The "Fair Rental Infor-
mation" proposal would provide local tenants
with clear information from their own ad-
vocates, while for the purpose of fairness also
providing them with information from lan-
dlord advocates and impartial authors.
The three-part booklet proposed by "Fair
Rental Information" is needed by Ann Arbor
tenants, because even the best com-
promise" book stifles the flow of information
necessary to tenants.,
Jonathan Rose is an attorney for the
Michigan Student Assembly Housing
Reform Project and one of the two co-
authors of Proposals A and B.

A deadly

insurance policy

By Greg Lynne


Over 6 million abortions have
been legally committed since
1973 as of last November, more
than the number of Jews killed
under Hitler. If you are pur-
chasing the U of M Health In-
surance Policy, you are helping
pay for legalized abortions. Last
September, because of my moral
stance against killing, I opted not
to renew my health insurance
which provides payments for
abortions. I wrote the Student In-
surance Chairman of the
Michigan Student Assembly that
I am being discriminated again-
st based upon my moral position
and, in effect: being denied
health insurance. I received no
Quite simply: "Abortion
requires an operation. It kills the

life of a baby after it has begun."
(from Planned Parenthood
Federation of America pamphlet
Plan Your Children for Health
and Happiness). I am opposed to
all forms ,of killing, especially
when it involves taking advan-
tage of the weak, those unable to
defend themselves, and those
being denied their rights as
human beings. Regardless of
your moral position, let me dispel
a few simple myths concerning
"LIFE doesn't begin until bir-
th" is an oft-stated defense by
those who are pro-abortion - ac-
tually it is a mute statement.
Modern science has shown that
the sperm and egg are as much
alive as any other human cell. F.
R. Lillie (W. Chicago Press, 1919)
states: "There is no phenomenon
in the field of biology that touches
so many fundamental questions
as the union of the germ cells in
the act of fertilization; in this
supreme event all the strands of
the webs of two lives are
gathered in one knot, from which
they diverge again and are
rewoven in a new individual life-
history ... The elements that
unite are single cells, each on the
point of death; but by their union a
rejuvenated individual is formed,
which constitutes a link in the
eternal procession of life."-
Lillie's poetic use of the ex-
pression "strands of the webs of
two lives" could not have been
more accurate in view of the
more recent discovery of DNA
and the ,genetic completeness of
the fertilized ovum containing al

cell. This is true of the human
being, for instance, who begins
life as a fertilized ovum." (I.
Asimov, The Genetic Code, 1962).
Webster's dictionary defines a
"person" as simply an individual
human being. If we are to believe
Asimov, the human beings
begin life as an ovum and that
ovum contains the blueprints for
a human life with potential, then
we must regard the fetus from
the moment of conception as a
All human beings require the
proper nutriments and the proper
environment to grow and develon

on Monday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m.,
on the third floor of the Michigan
Union. At this meeting the
student members .of the com-
mission will be rewriting the
student health insurance. policy
for next year.
Will you be a spokesperson for
the unborn? Can your conscience
continue to support help for abor-
tions under the guise of "health
insurance?" At the last meeting
of the Michigan Student Assen-
bly, Phil Merdinger, the Chair-
man of the Student Insurance
Committee, proposed that the
question be nut to the student


"- i V///%/,111


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