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November 14, 1975 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1975-11-14

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Overhauling SGC

MSA

plan avoids

convention hassles

By The School and College Government Task Force
'N THE ALL-CAMPUS Elections on November 18, 19 and
20, students will be asked to vote on a package of amend-
ments to the SGC Constitution which has been called the
"Michigan Student Assembly (MSA) Plan." In addition to
changing the name of SGC, the "MSA Plan" would signifi-
cantly alter two aspects of ,the current SGC. First, the com-
position would be changed from the present 17 at-large mem-
bers to one representative from each School and College Gov-
ernment and 18 at-large members. Second, an internal struc-
ture would be created with a steering committee to facilitate
the functioning of the government and a set of officers with
specific job functions.
Passage of the "MSA Plan" would result in several posi-
tive changes in student governance on this campus. First, with
the inclusion of representatives from each school or college,
every student would be assured that the particular concerns,
both academic and other, that are unique to his or her pro-
gram would be represented. SGC has never had the infor-
mation or contacts with the various academic units to be
an effective advocate for students' academic needs.
SECOND, THE TYPES OF ISSUES discussed and the
quality of decision-making would undoubtably improve the
current SGC. Students who have been actively involved in
issues at the school, college, and departmental levels will
bring a sense of realism and purpose to the workings of
SGC. Their experience with the serious business of univer-
sity governance will make them more likely to preserve a

sense of perspective on issues. Their sense of responsibility
towards their constituencies will make them less likely to
have involved themselves in campus politics without the serious
commitment needed.
Third, the incorporation of school and college representa-
tives in the central student government makes for an integrated
student governance system. There will be a flow of informa-
tion and opinions, not only between lower levels and all-cam-
pus levels, but between students in different schools, colleges,
and departments who will work together for the first time
in the new all-campus forum. Students from different units
will be able to concentrate their efforts in dealing with com-
mon problems, and the all-campus government may for the
first time lend effective aid, even financial support, to stu-
dents acting on issues of concern to students in the school
and colleges.
FINALLY, THE INTERNAL STRUCTURE provided for
in the "MSA Plan" would construct a much more stable
organization than any SGC has ever known. The new steering
committee would provide the efficiency needed for a large
government but have all the necessary checks to insure that
the real power resides with the whole group. The assignment
of functions (e.g. programming, advocacy, communication,
services, and budgetary support) to ongoing officers acid com-
mittees would insure continuity of performance. Unlike past
SGC's, certain vital aspects of an all-campus government
would not be overlooked for years.
There is another proposal on the ballot to initiate a con-

stitutional convention. We believe that this proposal should
be defeated for several reasons.
IN JANUARY 1975, AND AGAIN in October 1975, the
fourteen organized school and college governments passed
resolutions supporting the general philosophy and proposed re-
structuring of SGC presented in the Commission to Study Stu-
dent Governance Report. After extensive discussion, representa-
tives from the school and college governments decided that
the only feasible route to implement the CSSG Report was
to write specific amendments to the SGC Constitution. The
task of writing these amendments consumed the entire sum-
mer and early fall months of this year. Given the time,
energy and thought devoted to this task by representatives
of various schools and colleges, we feel it would be repeti-
tive and unnecessary to repeat this work through a constitu-
tional convention.
ANOTHER FACTOR TO CONSIDER is the time ele-
ment involved and the size of a constitutional convention.
SGC has proposed a convention membership of 75 people. The
time it would require for this unwieldy body to organize, re-
search, discuss, and agree on specific amendments to a con-
stitution (a 4 majority of convention delegates is required
to approve any decision) is a prospect which promises to
delay the crucial restructuring of SGC far into the future. The
CSSG began its work in September 1973. It would be unlikely
for a constitutional convention to implement its work until
1977. Four years is a long time to wait for positive change.
If both propositions pass, the "MSA Plan" will go into

effect in April of 1976. It would be illogical to revise the SGC
structure in a constitutional convention before the "MSA Plan"
is even tired and evaluated.
FOR THESE AND OTHER REASONS, representatives
from the school and college governments have joined together
in the School and College Government Task Force to support
the passage of these amendments, and oppose a constitutional
convention. We feel that the impetus for a truly effective and
credible central student government must come from those
of us who work with students in all the various units. We
urge you to vote yes on Ballot Question "B" - "The MSA
Plan" - in the All-Campus Elections on November 18, 19
and 20; and to vote no on Ballot Question "C" - "The
Constitutional Convention Plan."

AMrfll i Mr w riw i _.._... - r

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Eighty-Six Years of Editorial Freedom
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

Social evolution spells New York's fall

Friday, November 14, 1975

News Phone: 764-0552

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mi. 48104

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By MARC BASSON
FEDERAL AID TO New York
City has recently become
very much of an "in" topic for
discussion. "If we don't save
New York City, the whole na-
tion's economy is going to col-
lapse," people shout. Or, alter-
natively, grumbles of "let them
stew in their own juices" are
audible, depending on who hap-
pens to be arguing the subject.
But New York City's present
fiscal crisis raises a more sig-
nificant question which has been
almost completely overlooked in
the furor surrounding the need
for immediate Federal interven-
tion. Is New York City. or for
that matter any large metropo-
lis, really viable in the frame-
work of today's society?
In 1952, science fiction writer
Clifford Simak recapitulated the
development of the urban con-
cept in his novel "City."
"THE CITY IS an anachron-
ism. It has outlived its useful-
ness. Hydroponics and the hel-
icopter spelled its downfall. In
the first instance, the city was

a tribal place, an area where
the tribe banded together for
mutual protection. In later
years, a wall was thrown
around it for additional protec-
tion. Then the wall finally dis-
appeared but the city lived on
because of the convenience
which it offered trade and com-
merce. It continued into mod-
ern times because people were
compelled to live close to their
jobs and the jobs were in the
city.
"But today that is no longer
true. One hundred miles today
is a shorter distance than five
miles back in 1930. There is no
longer any need for them to live
cooped up in a city."
TWENTY - THREE YEARS
later, this is still one of the
best summaries of the develop-
ment and future of the city ex-
tant. Relatively well-to-do peo-
ple are moving out of the city
in droves to the pleasanter at-
mosphere and lower taxes of the
suburbs (from which they can
always commute into the city
if necessary) and the corpora-

tions for which they work are
gradually following suit. All this
depletes the city's tax base. So,
to obtain the same amount of
money it was getting before the
government is forced to raise
taxes, at which point even more
people and corporations join the
exodus. The city is left to the
poverty-stricken and the "un-
desirable elements" and as the
city increasingly resembles a
gigantic slum, the few corpora-
tions and prosperous people left
take flight. The whole vicious
cycle somehow reminds one of
the worm Oubouros devouring
his own tail.
AS THE CITY'S population
degenerates, the municipal gov-
ernment attempts to provide
more and more services in an
effort to retain and control those
citizens it has left. More police-
men must be hired to cope with
the rising crime rate. More fire-
men must be found to cope with
the ever-increasing number of
dilapidated tenements that no
one has ever bothered- to re-
store. And, most importantly,
money must somehow be funnel-
ed into the pockets of the city's
indigent residents so that they
will patronize the local shops
and keep' a semblance of a
functioning economy alive - in
other words, higher welfare pay-
ments or immense construction
projects reminiscent of the New
Deal and the WPA.
(New York City has frequent-
ly been criticized for its high
welfare payments and for the
grandiose and generally useless
building projects inspired by
Robert Moses, but the city had
no other choice but to keep
priming its economy in the hope
that it might suddenly catch
into spontaneous motion.
BUT HOW CAN the city fund
all of this? Without a decent tax
base, its only recourse is to sell
bonds, in effect borrowing mon-
ey from its bondholders at in-
terest, and then city must sell
more bonds to repay previous
bondholders and raise addition-
al operating money. The entire

system is utterly impractical.
Even Federal funding can be
no more than a temporary pal-
lative, for the Federal govern-
ment, too, must sell bonds and
collect, taxes to obtain money,
and it simply cannot afford to
support the governments and
economies of almost every me-
tropolis in the country.
NEW YORK CITY is not alone
in its plight, although it is prob-
ably farther along the road to
disintegration than any other
city at the present time. Los
Angeles was forced to raise pro-
perty taxes ten percent in Au-
S S
"Even federal fund-
ing can be no more
than a temporary pal-
lative, for the Federal
government, too, must
sell bonds and collect
taxes to obtain money,
and it simply cannot
afford to support the
governments and
economies of almost
every metropolis in the
country."
gust and will probably have to
raise them again next year to
keep a balanced budget. Phila-
delphia suffered from a nine-
teen million dollar budget de-
ficit and expects to be in the,
red about fifty million dollars
by the end of this fiscal year.
Detroit will maintain a balanced
budget only if nonresident city
income tax rates are doubled,
which is highly unlikely, and
inner city Detroit already ap-
proaches much of New York for
decrepitude, squalor and crime.
Only a few cities like Houston
and its oil remain safely afloat,
supported by some natural re-
source.
Block associations and full

page advertisements asking
New Yorkers to "Support Your
City" aren't going to help much
either in the long run.
SO WHERE DO we go from
here? Just what do we do with
what is left of our cities? For
the time being, we are probab-
ly going to have to continue our
desperate efforts to prop up
urban economies with pension
funds, Federal guarantees and
the like. There simply isn't
enough time to find a workable
solution before the collapse of
New York City drags us all
down.
Meanwhile, however, we must
seek an alternative. Perhaps the
best idea would be to, abandon
our urban sprawls completely
and to walk away from them
while we still can. This is cer-
tainly possible, for it is just this
same .trend towards abandoning
the city that began the urban
disintegration. With, modern
transportation and communica-
tion facilities, we need no long-
er worry about concentrating in
small areas for convenience and
efficiency. The key to continued
survival is decentralization.
New York City's difficulties
can only decrease the confi-
dence of corporations in the de-
sirability of an urban location.
Fine, Let them move out. En-
courage them to move out.
SOONER OR LATE1, the
cities are going to collapse, one
after another, first slowly and
infrequently, and then, as inves-
tor confidence plummets and
metropolitan citizens start run-
ning scared, in one long crash
of toppling fiscal structures. Our
efforts now must be devoted to
ensuring that the rest of our
economy is not trapped in the
rubble. Rather than mourning
the demise of the urban concept,
let us recognize it as a glorious
but outmoded artifact of a by-
gone era and attempt to de-
velop a societal structure more
suitable to modern times.
Marc Basson is a member of
The Daily Editorial Page staff.

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PIRGIM REPORTS
Facts hidden by
State health unit

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U.N. resolutio cheap shot

THE UNITED NATIONS' resolution
equating Zionism with racism is
a document ridden with hypocrisy
and an insensitivity toward the deli-
cate state of world affairs.
The Third World nations under-
standably find some difficulty sepa-
rating Israel from the long shadow
of American magnanimity, and so
have widened the scope of their anti-
imperialist venom to encompass the
Jewish state. But this sentiment
doesn't justify their support of so in-
flammatory a resolution.
The resolution would have been
damaging enough had bad timing
been its only drawback. But the anti-
Zionist gesture was rooted almost en-
tirely in fallacy. And those of its ele-
ments even remotely based in truth
could also be applied to most of the
U.N. members who supported it, espe-
cially the Soviet Union, one of its
more enthusiastic backers.
The Israeli citizenry will readily
concede that theirs is, above all, a
Jewish state. But it does not follow
from this that Israel is a racist state.
Non-Jew Israelis enjoy all the. con-
stitutional rights and privileges of
their Jewish countrymen; and if
some form of de facto discrimina-
tion does exist, it hardly could be any
worse or more blatant than the anti-
semitic sentiment in many Arab
lands and other countries across the
globe.
TE'MAV'r qTAF.F

FOR THE U.S.S.R. to stand at the
head of the pack in chastising
the Israelis is a classic exercise in
hypocrisy. From them the shot at the
state of Israel was especially cheap
in light of their campaign of oppres-
sion against Russian Jewry.
The U. N. resolution solves nothing.
It is an irresponsible piece of rhe-
toric that could set off an endless ex-
change of rebuffs and prevent pro-
gress toward peace in the Middle
East.
The issues of the Middle East are
complex ones. Every party in the con-
troversy has played the role of both
offender and offended more than
once. There is no clear villain or vic-
tim.
TO REVERT TO LOWLY name-call-
ing, as the Arabs, the Warsaw
bloc, and their adherents have done
in this week's resolution, is to deny or
deflate whatever progress has been
made in the Arab-Osraeli crisis since
the state of Israel was founded 27
years and four wars ago.
If the U.N. is to be preserved - if,
indeed, it should be - it must not be
allowed to degenerate into a forum
of inflammatory rhetoric voiced
strictly for its irritant value. The na-
tions of the world know the power
score well enough without the aid of
the U.N. The world body's usefulness
lies in Its potential as an agent of
compromise in times of crisis and
mercy in times of tragedy. Its mem-
hprc' nations should make an effort

By EDWARD PETRINI
]ROW OFTEN HAVE you
heard public officials pro-
claim how "open" they are? To
favor openness in government
is definitely vogue.
Reality can be quite the op-
posite, however, especially if
potentially embarrassing infor-
mation is concerned.
Take the following incident,
discovered during research for
PIRGIM's recent report on ac-
cess to Michigan government
records. State Secrets.
During the winter of 1972-73, a
Detroit - based consumer organ-
ization, Citizens for Better
Care (CBC), made several re-
quests for documents from the
Michigan Department of Mental
Health. Because it was concern-
ed about the quality of care be-
ing provided to former mental
patients in community place-
ment facilities. CBC asked for
copies of official inspection re-
ports and other documents re-
lating to enforcement of mini-
mum standards at facilities un-
der contract with the state.
According to Brian Clapham,
CBC Project Coordinator, the
reports revealed overcrowding,
wholesale building, code viola-
tions, and inadequate staff sup-
ervision. In one home, the pa-
tients were not even being fed
on Sundays and holidays.
MAYBE THAT'S WHY access
to the official reports wasn't
easy.
Some of CBC's requests re-
ceived no response at all from
the department. Others were
met with a terse rejection, the
agency refusing to explain legal
basis for denial.
At one point. Dr. E. G. Yu-
dashkin, the department's direc-
tor at the time, wrote CBC that
he was asking his staff "to stop
wasting their time replying to
these questions until we have
some more definitive statement
regarding (CBC's) purpose,"
apparently assuming that access
to public information can be de-
nied if the agency does not care
for thegoals of the requestor.
In fact, Yudashkin even
turned CBC's requests around
by demanding to know informa-

BUT THE FAVORABLE set-
tlement did not end CBC's prob-
lems.
Although forced to recognize
CBC's right to access, the de-
partment refused to provide cop-
ies of reports on seven facili-
ties until CBC paid the depart-
ment $436.57. The department
tried to charge CBC for the
time it took for highly trained,
highly paid administrators to
review each report and make
the deletions specified in the
settlement agreement.
CBC went back to court. It
pointed out that the reports fol-
lowed a form outline and that
the lowest paid clerical assist-
ant, following simple instruc-
tions, could make the deletions.
In March, 1974, the court order-
ed copying costs at 10c per
page, or $42.00 for the entire
set of reports.
This is just one of 16 case
studies PIRGIM selected for
its report on freedom of infor-
mation problems in state and
local government in Michigan.
The next step is to take action
to solve this problem which
hinders the work of students,
scholars, consumer advocates,
journalists, and lawyers, among
others.
In order to assure that citizen
access to information does not
continue to be frustrated by of-
ficial arrogance, administrative
and judicial delays, exorbitant
copying charges, and other bar-
riers, PIRGIM has drafted a
comprehensive new freedom of
information law for Michigan.
AMONG OTHER features, the
proposed law will clarify what
is available and require agen-
cies to respond to citizen re-
quests for information within
specified time limits. It would
not open all government files,
but reasonable exceptions would
be more clearly defined. And if
information is denied, the agen-
cy would have to explain its
legal reasoning in writing.
There would be better provision
for administrative review and
quiick court appeals.
The bill is now being review-
ed by many of those it is intend-
ed to benefit, prior to introduc-
tion by Rep Perry Bullard (D-
Ann Arbor) in a few weeks. If'

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Letters:* Zionists reactionary

To The Daily:
AN UNWARRANTED hysteria
has appeared in this country
since the passage in the UN
General Assembly of a resolu-
tion calling Zionism a racist
ideology. Editorials, letters to
the editor, commentators, and
speakers at rallies are harshly
condemning the UN and her-
alding a new age of anti-Semi-
tism.
People in this country have
long been blind to basic reali-
ties about Zionism and the
whole Middle East question.
This resolution and the two oth-
ers passed on the issue of Pal-
estine are not vengeful actions
on the part of the Third World.
There is truth in them.
A country in which any Jew,
and only Jews, can immediate-
ly become a citizen, while other
peoples cannot, is racist.
A country which denies its
former inhabitants the right to
return to their homes is racist.
A country whose political
ideology was described by its
originator as a "colonial pro-
gram" is racist.
A COUNTRY WHICH legally
and s o c i a lI y discriminates
against Arabs and Oriental Jews
is racist.

Also - this is not an anti-Se- Therefore, I went to the SGC
mitic resolution. I, a Jew, am meeting last Thursday night at
not threatened by it. If anyone constituent's time and asked
insists on equating Zionism Council if these rumors/facts
with Judaism, it is the Zionists were true. Suddenly, some SOC
themselves, not its opponents. members became bisibly upset
and noticeably rude. Lisa Yellin
This resolution should be a and Kim Keller of SOC immedi-
place to begin admitting that ately questioned the appropri-
something is rotten in the state ateness of such a comment (an
of Israel and in the Middle East admission of guilt, perhaps?).
as a whole. And it should be a No Council member admitted
place to begin recognizing that that he/she benefitted from
any settlement must include a SOC by getting course credit,
return of the Palestinians to even though some SGC mem-
their home.. bers and officials claim this is
Ruth Gersh true.
I think it is despicable that
these gutless SOC members do
Credit not have the "genitalia" to state
that they have a self-serving
To The Daily: purpose for being on SGC. As
VARIOUS Student Government a former SGC member myself,
Council (SGC) personnel have I knowthat I never got any-
informed me that many Student thing but headaches, aggrava-
Organizing Committee (SOC) tion, and a "sock" in the nose
Party members are using their from serving on Council. I re-
elected positions on Council as sent that it appears SOC mem-
the primary work for obtaining bers have ulterior motives for
credit for an urban planning their SGC service and are cov-
course. This made me question ering up these facts from the
the motives of many SOC mem- student body. I won't forget
bers for being on SGC. I won- this when I vote in the SGC
dered whether the SOC mem- elections (November 18 to 20.)
bers were interested in the stu- Bob Matthews
dent body or themselves. November 9
..." .. y.U.. "., .. . 5.. ,......41S....
Contact your reps-

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