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May 26, 1971 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1971-05-26

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420 Maynard Street, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Edited and managed by students at the
University of Michigan
Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual
opinions of the author. This must be noted in all reprints.
Wednesday, May 26, 1971 News Phone: 764-0552
NIGHT EDITOR: MARK DILLEN
Bittersweet victories
JUDGE HAROLD MULVEY'S decision to drop the mur-
der-kidnap charges against Black Panther Chairman
Bobby Seale and New Haven Panther leader Ericka Hug-
gins, is apparently the latest chapter in a series of fail-
ures by the government to use the judicial system as a po-
litical arena for disposing of revolutionaries.
While in recent years it has become commonplace for
various governmental agencies to bring radicals to trial
on trumped-up charges, both juries and judges are begin-
ning to-assert that they will not become the executors of
the government's political schemes.
An indication of this trend came less than two weeks
ago in New York, where 13 Black Panthers were acquitted
of 12 counts of bombing and murder conspiracy, after the
prosecution presented a case largely composed of out-of-
context statements, irrelevancies and appeals to racial
fears and prejudices.
In Los Angeles, the trial of Angela Davis has been de-
layed while five prospective judges have been removed
from the case. Three disqualified themselves because of
friendship for a judge who allegedly was slain by a gun
owned by Davis while two other judges were removed by
defense challenges - but the message is clear - no one
wants to hear this case.
Three weeks ago, charges of threatening the life of
the President were dropped against Panther Chief of Staff
David Hilliard after a judge ruled that illegal government
wiretaps would have to be revealed in court.
Thus, the government continues to lose cases against
black revoltitionaries. But it cannot be realistically said
that the defendants have won these cases.
SPECIFICALLY, the cases have left deep wounds in the
ranks of the Panthers. For example, in the Seale case,
Panthers were compelled by the state to testify- against
other Panthers, and there are indications that some were
given reduced charges in exchange for their testimony.
Also, these trials have been extremely long, and the
cost of legal help has left the Panthers virtually penniless.
The Seale trial lasted over six months, while the trial of
the New York 13 was the longest trial in the history of
New York State -- lasting almost a full year.
In addition, these cases have kept many Panthers in
jail for long periods of time. Huggins had spent two years
in jail before being released yesterday. Seale, after spend-
ing a year in a Connecticut prison, is still in custody,
awaiting the posting of bail on his four-year contempt
conviction in the Chicago Conspiracy trial, and some of
the New York Panthers - faced with prohibitively high
bail - were imprisoned for two years before their acquit-
tal,
THUS, THE RECENT court decisions in favor of the Pan-
thers are bittersweet victories. Past experience indi-
cates that the Panthers will continue to be harassed by
the government and victimized by the judicial system, in
spite of whatever temporary reprieves they win in the
courtroom.
-ALAN LENHOFF'

Enforcing the housing code:
Help where it's needed?

By MARK DILLEN
S HE WAS STANDING outside
the office of Ann Arbor's
Model Cities program, saying how
she felt Model Cities wasn't doing
the right thing in not participat-
ing in the city's federally-sponsor-
ed housing code enforcement pro-
gram.
"People think they'll (city in-
spectors) come in and take ev-
erything away and charge y o u
more money than you can afford,"
she said. "It's 'cause they don'b,
know that they'll help you."
There was much truth in what
she said. For while some of the
low-income members of the com-
munity are fearful of having their
homes inspected for housing vio-
lations - afraid they'll be forced
to make repairs they can't af-
ford - it's hard to say whether
their fears are justified. This fed-
eral program really hasn't been
given a chance.
Called the "Concentrated Code
Enforcement" program, it has
been in existence since July, 1969,
and is aimed at renovating old
homes before they require the de-
molition characteristic of massive.
oft-criticized urban renewal pro-
grams in other cities.
To some degree t h e ten-man
city staff assigned to the program
has been successful in reaching
its goal. By increasing inspection
of homes in A n n Arbor's older
neighborhoods and using federal
funds to help make repairs, homes
in the designated area have been
saved which otherwise would have
gradually decayed.
In addition, many landlords -
especially in areas of large student
population - have been forced to
satisfy housing code violations
which scanty inspections in the
past caused to go unnoticed.
Yet these plusses of increased
inspection for code violations are
outweighed by several drawbacks
for a large portion of the area's
residents. The increased enforce-
ment area - forming roughly a
C-shaped area to the south, west
and north of campus - contains
residents of many income levels,
some of whom fear they won't
receive enough money to repair
all violations on their homes.
In establishing the regulations

4

homes seldom checked by city in-
spectors. The very idea of "en-
forcement" created, naturally, a
bad feeling among black residents
of the north side area, who were
afraid they would be forced ou t of
their homes.
THUS, THIS FEAR, felt by
many members of the Model Cit-
ies Policy Board - another fed-
erally sponsored program in the
northern black section of the cor-
centrated code enforcement aresa
-kept inspectors out of the model
cities area. The Model Cities board
specifically requested no inspec-
tions. Bounded on the south by
Huron and Ann Sts., on the east
by Division and on the west by
Seventh and Brooks Sts., the en-
tire Model Cities area has been
without the concentrated inspec~-
tion - or for that matter any
kind of regularized inspection -
during the entire two years of the
program already over.
In January, City Council at-

-Dasuy-immJuakis
like to see inspected "for their
own information." One of the
community relations personnel at-
tached with the concentrated code
program, Jesse Hill, still expects
inspection of the area to begin
in a "matter of four or f i v e
weeks."
"We do have limitations in
funds and there may be situations
in which enough money simply
will not be available to an individ-
ual for repairs," Hill says, "but
we continue to work with a fam-
ily until the resolution of t h e i r
problem."
Hill emphasizes that no one has
been forced out of his home by
the renovation process and that
in some cases money for repairs
has been obtained from commun-
ity organizations, such as t h e
Black Economic Development
League (BEDL), for help in meet-
ing the costs of renovation.
YET APPARENTLY, nearly
two years after the start of the
program and with only a year re-
maining of guaranteed federal
funding, these assurances h av e
failed to filter through to much
of the community and the rising
dissatisfaction with the actions of
the Model Cities Policy B o a r d
on the part of members of t h e
community has made the situa-
tion that much more uncertain.
Meanwhile, the f u n d f o r
grants to individuals for home
improvements is getting smaller
thoughthe Model Cities area -
recognized as the area most in
need of repair - remains unin-
spected and unaided. Though
there are well over 2,000 homes
and apartment units in the con-
centrated enforcement area, with
only a year left in the contract,
only 941 structures have been in-
spected and only 75 of these in
the Model Cities neighborhood.
And of the 941 inspected, only
386 have been "certified" - in-
dicating the process of comply-
ing with the housing code h as
been completed.
City officials claim they really
aren't behind schedule and don't
seem really worried that $161,000
of the $437,000 allotted for grants
to people to help repair t h e i r
homes is already spent - all with-
out even inspecting homes in
what is commonly recognized as
the area most in need of repair.
Some of the residents in the
untouched Model Cities - many
of whom are black, many pen-
sioners on small incomes - have
become upset that so little action
seems to have been taken after
learning of the plan's details.
And students, scattered through-
out the code area, but predomi-
nating in the southern sections,
are disturbed that their rents are
being increased after renovations
following inspections.
FOR BOTH groups, money is
available providing the regula-
tions are met. Making them
aware of this must be the pro-
gram's top priority.

4

-i

- t -- ~--
-
ii
&f#
,s
"At the drop of a hat-or less-we find
adrenal-fueled lawyers cry out. . ."
-Chief Justice Warren Burger

governing the program, the De-
partment of Housing and Urban
Development set a limit of $3,500
on the amount of money available
as a grant to each homeowner or
landlord. But to be eligible fora
grant, HUD also said one had to
be paying over 25 per cent of his
monthly income in housing pay-
ments, heating, repair work, etc.,
or be earning less than $3,000 per
year.
They also said that all violations
found by inspectors in their
searches would have to be rem-
edied before a dwelling's proces-
sing was complete. Although offi-
cials said poor families would not
face many problems in cost or re-
location, the lower income areas
have not been covered yet so how
it will work in practice is any-
body's guess.
For the minority who were
aware of these regulations and
had little contact with the new
concentrated c o d e enforcement
staff, their skepticism increased;
To them, the regulations would
not provide an adequate payment
for the hundreds of violations in-

tempted to deal with the prob-
lem by suggesting the Model Cit-
ies area be "sampled" for a re-
presentative indication of how
great the rate of housing c o d e
violations would -be. Then Coun-
cilman Nicholas Kazarinoff (D-
2nd Ward) alluded to these fears
of black residents when he said:
"The Model Cities Policy Board
has expressed reservations that
the (concentrated code enforce-
ment) program would bring hard-
ships of many kinds to Model Cit-
ies area residents. It has be e n
suggested the housing commit-
tee (of City Council) that a "dry
run" inspection of homes in the
area be made so as to bring forth
facts by which the effects of the
concentrated code program could
be better judged."
But since then, little, if any
action has been taken. The few
members of the city staff ac-
quainted with the problem seem
hesitant to push Model C i t ie s
to agree to inspections. And th e
Model Cities Policy Board, for its
part, has not submitted the list
of houses in the area they would

.

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