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January 30, 1977 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-01-30

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books - page five
January 30, 1977


Editor: Stephen Hersh

Associate Editors: Ann Marie Lipinski, Elaine Fletcher

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A ne
WASHINGTON-He was elected to
office by a victory margin of
only 347 votes in the closest contest
of all of the races for the U.S.
House of Representatives last No-
vember. His opponent, Dr. Edward
Pierce, is doggedly pursuing a re-
count, refusing to give up the fight
even after the January 4 swearing-
in. Some politicians would be wor-
Jeff Ristine is the Daily's"Managifzg




s cracking

ried, fearing that the Sword of Da-
mocles overhead might drop. But
Carl Pursell, the moderate Repub-
lican representatie f r o m Mich-
igan's Second Congressional Dis-
trict, has dug his heels firmly into
Washington's turf and expects to
keep them there for at least an-
other hundred weeks.
Pursell says the prospect of a
recount suddenly ending his career
as a congressman never interferes
with his work on Capitol Hill. "You

never want to get your train off
the track," he says. "I'm just not
going to get derailed by anyone,
including Ed Pierce. If it happens,
it happens."
The new legislator seems to feel
no animosity toward the liberal
A n n A r b o r physician, who has
travelled several avenues in at-
tempts to unseat Pursell, but the
former state senator from Livonia
does believe Pierce's post-election
crusade has crossed the line of
political sportsmanship: "I'm a
little disappointed that he hasn't
become a good sport at this point
yet," Pursell says, adding that he
nevertheless respects Pierce's com-
mitment to his personal goals.
Pursell is confident. You can
afford to be confident when you're
a m o d e r a t e Republican from a
moderate district and you have the
solid support of y o u r hometown
business community.
And besides, Pursell has more
pressing matters to worry about
than Pierce.
Pursell was relaxed during an
interview nine days ago in his of-
fice in Washington on the seventh
floor of the Longworth Building.
W e a r i n g an uncongressmanlike
yellow turtleneck sweater ("I don't
like to wear a suit and tie. I hateJ
ties. I think they're the worst in-
vention man ever made."), he was
preparing for one of his weekly
flights back to "the district," the
constituency that includes Wash-
tenaw and Monroe Counties plus a
f r a c ti o n of Wayne County. His
schedule was relatively light; the
House was not in session that day.
His office-formerly occupied by
an agriculture committee staff-is
hardly spacious, but it is comfort-
able. Two secretaries type, answer
phones and greet visitors in an
area near the entrance, a legisla-
tive assistant works behind a par-
tition, and Pursell shares a sepa-
rate room with p r e s s aide Bill
Kerans. Pursell and three others
painted the room themselves one
He works behind two medium-
sized d e s k s, connected in an L-
shape, with plaques and pictures of
Governor William Milliken and for-
mer President Ford adorning the
walls. On the desktops t h e r e is
little more: a pair of telephones, a

blue blotter, a neat stack of papers,
but the office buzzes with activity.
Pursell is not idle.
set a work pattern for himself
that runs against the grain of tra-
ditional first-term behavior. New
congressmen are sometimes ex-
pected to serve an apprenticeship
of sorts before jumping into the
heady fray of public policy-mak-
ing. "I'm throwing that out the
window," Pursell says with pride.
"I don't t h i n k congressmen can
afford to spend ten years in a sub-
committee. Some freshmen might
work that way that haven't had
legislative background."
He requested membership on
only two House committees-Edu-
cation and Labor. and Science and
Technology - and got them both.
He was also awarded the top rank-
ing a m o n g all the Republican
freshmen on both committees, giv-
ing him an important head start
up the ladder of House seniority.
Pursell wanted to serve on just
those two committees so he could
concentrate his work in pet areas
of interest. "You never want to get
caught in a rat race," he says, or
lose "discretionary power" over
time by bouncing a r o u n d from
hearing room to hearing room.
He calls the Science committee
"very exciting" and hopes to exert
influence there that will win Mich-
igan a highly-coveted solar energy
research institute ("Honestly, I'd
say we have a fifty-fifty chance.").
His strategy? "You have to go
where you think the decisions are
being made," he says, to "the mov-
ers and shakers" and to the House
Pursell also has big ideas for the'
Education committee, and wants
to help p u s h a revenue-sharing
plan for elementary and secondary
schools that w o u I d reduce local
property taxes. "It's becoming a
national problem," he says, and
like many Republicans, he has "al-
ways been interested in reducing
that property tax." It is just one of
many long-term goals Pursell has
already set for himself.
Still, as just one of 435 faces in
the lower house of Congress, Pur-
sell is hardly a celebrity. Security

guards outside the House floor do
not recognize him, he must intro-
duce himself first to gain admit-
His first entry in the Con-
gressional Record is only two
paragraphs, 190 words. It con-
sists of remarks about pub-
lic works, employment, and the
proposed legislation he believes ad-
dresses only short-term goals. "It
seems we are operating in an emer-
gency, temporary vacuum," he told
colleagues,; a "crisis situation". It
is a cautious statement which does
not reveal his voting intentions for
what may be the most critical bill
of his entire first term. Thus, t h e
statenent would probably not upset
the thousands of unemployed
adults in his district.
"I don't think things happen
overnight here," he says later. "I
think Congress works to many tim-
es in a crisis vacuum." It is more
restrained than the statement one
might expect of a moderate Repub-
liman who spent a good part of his
campaign complaining about big-
spending Democrats. It is just
barely offensive, as opposed to de-
fensive, as if designed to deny am-
munition to those who would like
to stay on Pursell's back.
The 95th Congres has yet to vote
on any substantive legislation, so
Pursell has not established a de-

State legislators face Herculean task

- Daily Photos by PAULINE LUBENS
finite political orientation beyond
his promises to stay east in the
"Marvin Esch mold". Even the long
list of bills he wants to co-sponsor
fail to fall into a single ideological
category, although they do under-
score his commitment to fiscal con-
-He supports a constitutional
amendment to abolish the electoral
college and establish direct elec-
tion of presidents and vice presi-
-He advocates "sunset legisla-
tion for regulatory agencies, guide-
lines which would abolish 11 fed-
eral agencies seen as no longer ser-
ving a useful purpose;
-He is co-sponsoring legislation
to help control the "illegal alien
problem" by making the Social Se-
curity card the sole identifier of el-
igibility to work; and
-He supports a broad, ton-point
plan called "The Open House
Amendnents" that, among o t h e r
provisions, would require nearly all
House committee meetings to be
open to the public and the media.
jF HE HAS NOT YET shaped a
firm political personality, he
has certainly established a person-
al approach to his job. Pursell plac-
es a premium on organization and
takes pride in the fact that his of-
fice was functioning while o t hi e r
freshmen were setting up tempor-
ary quarters in spare rooms and
hallways. The concept of "organi-
zation" pops up again and again'as
he talks about his campaign -and'
his new career. If he had the race
to run over again, he says, he would
have organized support groups ear-
lier. "I served on more conference
committees than any other legisla-
tor in the history of the Michigan
Senate," he says, and his workload
was heavy during the race against
primary opponent Ronald Trow-
bridge and, later, Ed Pierce.'"I
probably shouldn't have taken
those assignments," he says with a
sigh. "I lost about two months of
organization time."
Organization is also a primary
concern in his three district offic-
es. "They wanted us to go into the
federal building," Pursel says, re-
ferring to the new structure still
under construction on Ann Arbor's
Libetrty Street. "I refused to go in.
I refuse to be a part of that bur-
Instead, Pursell is moving Esch's
old Huron St. office downtown to
the Georgetown-Pine Valley area
off Packard Rd. "A senior citizen
can go in'there and park," he notes.
"Parking is a basic part of any
anyone else of the political tru-
ism that representatives must rn
for re-election from Day One, is
commiting himself to returning to

"Here in this legislative chamber we
are about to make a fresh start to re-
solve perplexing problems which face
our state. At the same time, we share
the awareness of a new start-a begin-
ning -which prevails throughout' the
land. In Washington, Congress is begin-
ning anew. And within a few days, the
United States, moving now into its third
century of national existence, will in-
stall a new President. . . It is time for
government that quickens the spirit, a
time to feel reinvigorated and reins pired,
a time to renew high purpose and firm
resolve, a time to re-affirm our confi-
dence that we can and will meet the
difficult c h a l1lie n g e s which best our
society." -Governor William Milliken,
Jan. 13, 1977
for action, Gov. William Mil-
liken welcomed the 79th S t a t e
Legislature back to Lansing and a
jam-packed agenda guaranteed to
provide opportunities for both con-
troversy and achievement.
Indeed, when H o u s e Speaker
Bobby Crim asked assembled legis-
lators in his opening address to
maintain the "activist tradition"
established in the previous session,
the exhortation s e e m e d hardly

city-dwellers are pushing hard for
tough law-and-order measures as
well as increased funding to com-
bat a multitude of urban crises. A
mass transit system for Southeast-
ern Michigan is in the works and
will require attention. Businessmen
and environmentalists clamor for
important reforms. There's little
question that p i v o t a 1 legislation
will be enacted in the upcoming
months of 1977.
As usual, the first order of busi-
ness will be to review the budget
submitted by Milliken on Jan. 24.
In s t a r k contrast to the austere
budget Milliken presented last year,
this year's relative abundance of
funds reflects an improving, econ-
omy. Despite a record $3.65 billion
budget request,it appears a finan-
cial surplus is in the offing. Ac-
cordingly, Milliken felt free to pro-
pose substantial increases in fund-
ing for higher education, cities and
other areas without requesting a
tax increase. In addition, Milliken
has asked that $128 million of the
surplus money be ear-marked for
a so-called b u d g e t stabilization
Otherwise known as the "rainy
day" fund, the scheme calls for ek-
cess funds to be set aside during

tion of current sentencing proced-
ures, in order to achieve fairness
as well as.certainty of pupishment.
On Jan. 25, House Republican lead-
er Dennis Cawthorne introduced
'While victims of the PBB
scandal desperately n e e d
massive aid, outraged con-
sumer groups cry out for
preventive l e g i s l a t i o n
against similar catastrophies
in the future. Frightened
Detroiters and other c i t y -
dwellers are pushing h a r d
for ! tough law-and-order
measures as well as increas-
ed funding to combat a mul-
titude of urban crises. Bus-
inessmen and environment-
alists clamor for important
.};>ti:.'vv?:". ::::;5. ?S :.

more prison construction. Rosen-
baum is pushing a $406 million
bonding measure to pay for the
new facilities. Such a measure must
be passed by Michigan voters in a
state-wide referendum.
Rosenbaum's s t a n d has made
him the t a r g e t of get-tough-on
crime advocates. M o s t outspoken
,has been Oakland County prosecu-
tor Brooks Patterson, who has been
circulating petitions and taken to
the stump against Rosenbaum's
position. Nevertheless, Rosenbaum
has stood his ground.
"I'm not going to bend to any
political p r e s s u r e," says Rosen-
baum. "If the people want to pay
for it, we'll pass it." Although he
says he favors the concept itself,
Rosenbaum maintains t h a t the
state's prison system is under in-
tense strain now, and that manda-
Story sentencing would make the
situation intolerable. He contends
that his is the only position a re-
sponsible legislator can take.
"It's very. important that no-
body in the state think that I am
acting capriciously or arbitrarily
here. I'm just being honest. If pre-
sumptive sentencing is passed by
the Legislature, it's going to have
a price tag of, minimum, $200 Mil-
lion. 'T hat breaks down to $19.22

Cawthorne, the sponsor of the
legislation, feels Rosembaum is be-
ing "entirely too rigid." Noting that
a state-wide referendum would not
be possible until 1978, Cawthorne
agreed that increased prison facili-
ties were needed "but to say no
sentencing legislation can be en-
acted until this is done is unrea-
sonable, in my view."
Other objectives in the field of
law enforcement and administra-
tion of justice this session will be
revisions of the juvenile and pro-
bate codes, mandatory sentences
for heroin dealers, more effective
prosecution of white collar crime
and welfare and Medicare fraud
and abuse and de-criminalization,
of possession of less than 18 granma
of marijuana, an amounti which
supposedly differentiates the user
from the dealer.
I+FNVIRONMENTAL issues are sure
to come to the fore in this
legislative session. Land reform,
stymied in the previous session by
Sen. Joe Mack (D-Ironwood) from
his strategic position as chairman
of the Senate Conservation Com-
mittee, may finally be enacted this
According to Representative

three bills detailing a mandatory
sentencing plan. The measures
would establish minimum, normal
and maximum sentences for each
felony crime.
Although the legislation enjoys

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