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June 09, 1978 - Image 3

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Michigan Daily, 1978-06-09

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, June 9, 1978-Page 3

Dems. sue GOP
over closed caucuses

By DAN OBERDORFER
The Ann Arbor chapter of the League
of Women Voters and two private in-
dividuals have joined three Democratic
City Council .members in suing the
city's Republican caucus for holding
private meeting at which $328,500 worth
of budget reapportionments were
discussed. The plaintiffs claim that the
closed meeting violates the Michigan
Open Meetings Act.
Attorney Jerold Lax said yesterday
he expects to file the complaint in Ann
Arbor Circuit Court today. The suit will
ask the court to overturn the budget
reallocations which were discussed
privately by the Republicans at a May
23 caucus meeting, and were adopted
by the full council the following night.
Last month state Attorney General
Frank Kelley interpretted the Open
Meetings Act to include caucus
meetings of local governments when
such sessions constitute a quorum.
There are seven Republicans on Ann
Arbor's 11-member Council, which con--
stitutes a quorum. However, Kelley's
view must be supported by the courts
before it becomes law.
University Economics Professor
William Shepherd and second year Law
student Paul Pratt are the two private
individuals merging forces with
Democratic councilmembers Leslie
Morris (Second Ward), Susan Green-
berg (First Ward) and Ken Latta (First
Ward). The Ecology Center of Ann Ar-
bor might join also.
THE LEAGUE of Women Voters
decided at a board meeting earlier this
week to join in the suit. Myrtle Cox,
President of the Ann Arbor branch of
the non-partisan group said the decision
was made because the Republican's
meeting was in "clear" violtion of the
Open Meetings Act. She said she would
fight the case all the way to the
Supreme Court if need be.-
"If the law is to have any meaning,"
she said in an official statement, "the
meetings at which the majority of the
city council deliberated, and for all
practical purposes decided on the
FIoday
heesamoral here some

budget, should have been held in
public."
Cox said the League monitors the
budget making process every year and
this year a representative was present
at each of about a half-dozen working
sessions at which City Council disc-
cused the budget. "We have no interest
in the budget itself; we are interested in
the process," she said.
BUT REPUBLICAN Mayor Louis
Belcher is equally confident of victory.
He said the Act is unconstitutional
because it regulates local government
caucus meeting, but specifically ex-
cludes caucus meetings at the state
level.
"I want them to keep pursuing this
thing because I want to take it to the
Supreme Court and win," he said.
In addition, Belcher pointed out only
five council Republicans were present
at the meeting in question, so it did not
constitute a quorum.
"No one at that meeting had an idea
of what the final budget would be,"
Belcher proclaimed. "That wasn't
decided until the next morning. . . It's
not a public meeting because there
are no votes taken."
ANOTHER organization, the Ecology
Center of Ann Arbor, is considering
joining the suit. According to Beth
Greenberg, the resource coordinator
for the center, its board of directors
was to meet last night to decide finally
if they would join the suit.
The ecology center would have a par-
ticular interest in seeing that the $55,000
cut from the forestry budget be rein-
stated. The cut has resulted in a drastic
cutback in the number of trees to be
planted this year and in tree trimming
operations.
Invididuals joining the suit said they
were interested in both setting a
precedent for open meetings and over-
turning the budget.
Shepherd said he opposes closed
meetings by government bodies. But he
said he is especially upset at the $55,000
slash to the forestry division.

T'en, nine, eight... AP Photo
The sculpture "Endless Force" can ae seen (harldy in repose) right outside
the living room of ex-President Gerald Ford in Rancho Mirage. Cal.

V

?where

In Montgomery, Alabama, once upon a time,
there was a woman named Melba Till Allen. She
was a politician who campaigned for state treasurer
under a banner that proclaimed the clean-up of all
shady dealings, conflict-of-interest, and general
crookedness among state politicians. This lady was
quite a crusader. She helped push through tough
new laws against this sort of naughty wheeling and
dealing, and she was successful. Tough new
legislation passed, including Alabama's first code
of ethics for officials holding state posts. On May 24,
Melbe Till Allen was cought with her hand in her
middle name, so to speak, and yesterday she was
sentenced to three years in prison for using her of-
fice to obtain "personal financial gain" from the
National Bank of Commerce in Birmingham, Ala.
She was the first person to be convicted under the
relatively new statutes. Hoist, as it were, by her
own/... well, you know.
Panda poundage
Remember the two pandas the Chinese sent as a
gift to America several years ago, before Richard
Nixon ever wrote a bestseller? In the six years since
the U.S. arrival of Ling-Ling and her friend
Hsing-Hsing, there has been no pitter-patter of little
panda feet, despite encouragement from interested

homo sapeins. Officials at the National Zoo in
Washington, D.C. are going to try to solve that
problem by putting 276-pound Ling-Ling and 274-
pound Hsing-Hsing on diets. It seems that every
time the crucial moment approaches, Ling-Ling
falls over. Besides using a diet to prod the pair into a
little hanky-panky, zoo officials will keep the bears
separated more often, in an attempt to make the
heart grow fonder. Reproduction zoologist Dr.
Devra Kleiman said the bears will simply have to
cut down from their usual diets of apples, carrots,
tablespoons, of honey, two cups of hot water and 20
pounds of bamboo twice a day. Perhaps next spring
the zoo officials will have to consult Masters and
Johnson.
Happenings-...
Today begin at twelve noon with not one but two
(count 'em!) events - the "Witless Wheelies" give
street theater in the piag about issues concerning
the handicapped, and the Ford Factory tour leaves
the International Center also at that time. There is a
$2 registration fee-bring it along. . . at 7:30 p.m.,
the University of Michigan Astronomical Film
Festival's program will be devoted to the Space
Shuttle. Aud. 3, MLB ... At 8:00 p.m., the
American Friends Service Committee sponsors a
talk by Joe Volk, entitled, "Middle East Peace: An

Open Moment or Dead Hope?" That's at the Ann
Arbor Fiends Meetinghouse, 1420 Hill St. . .. and
also at 8, the Socialist Party is showing "Eugene
Debs and the American Movement" in Conference
Room 6 in the Union. . . and more space stuff at
8:30. Astronomy Dept. Visitor's Night presents
Gunther Elste and "Spiral Galaxies"; also a film,
The Universe from Palomar, in Angell Auditorium
B.
On the outside .. .
The silver gunk in the glass tubes will huff and
puff up the scale today, achingly, slowly reaching
ahigh of 68'.The sky will be partly sunny, according
to the weather folks, which presumably means par-
tly-un-sunny as well. This appears to be the case of
the Excluded Middle. Either there is sun or there is
not. Yet we know that the sun is there, whether ob-
scured by clouds or uninhibited by gloom. Bishop
Berkeley (1685-1753) proposed that we cannot know
the existence of something we cannot sense. So if we
cannot see the sun, is it really there? There are two
objections to this: First, that we may sense the sun
without seeing it, for we feel its warmth, and
second, that it will only be PARTLY un-sunny
today, so we will likely see the damn thing anyway.
Besides, who said Berkeley was right? Descartes
would take the contrary position .

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