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January 24, 1982 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1982-01-24

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44

OPINION

Page 4
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Sunday, January 24, 1982

The Michigan Daily

supportin5 martial 1ax heh!1

Vol. XCII, No. 94

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

- 0 1

Super Sunday

T LOOKED fine on the black-.
board.
When the powers that be from the
National Football League and the City
of Detroit met in 1979 to discuss a
possible Silverdome Super Bowl, they
agreed that the timing was right. It
would be a bold step, yanking the
coveted contest out of the Sun Belt, but
the bitchers would adapt. Besides, con-
stant complaints ,that the game was
inaccessible to northern fans needed to,
be appreciated.
The Silverdome fit the bill.
Detroit's braintrust had obvious in-
terests at stake. Always looking for a
public relations boost, government and
industry leaders foresaw lucrative
'benefits from the national attention
and stimulated local commerce. The
automobile companies, which sponsor
- a large percentage of televised games,
expected to be rebounding by January
1982, and welcomed the opportunity to
show off their blossoming factories.
Sadly, January 1982 finds the city
and the industry bottoming out. Both
are in pain today-terrible pain-and
.the Super Bowl's arrival magnifies
rather than mollifies the suffering.
Economic depression' is ravaging this
area; the auto industry is deteriorating
quickly. A quarter of the once-
prosperous labor force is unemployed,'
and many of those still working face
shortened hours and sporadic lay-offs.
' Not a pretty picture for the television
cameras. The ' spotlight glares on
Detroit at a time when optimism is
scarce, if not nonexistent, and the
despair plaguing its residents can be
- felt at every turn. Already, visiting

journalists have taken great pains to
describe the area's desolate condition.
"Hideous and horrible," one spor-
tswriter described the city on national
television. Others publicly scorned
their Pontiac assignment.
As a result, the city's leaders and
media figures have been on the defen-
sive. They did not expect this occasion
to arouse such contempt for the area,
although they perhaps should have
when planning the Silverdome bowl.
From the moment they landed at
Metropolitan Airport, Detroit's guests
immediately discovered the sour local
mood. "UAW Suspends Contract
Talks," the headlines read, and the ac-
companying articles vividly described
the perilous condition of the industry,
which is the city's lifeblood. On the
very next day, further illustrating the
depressed bowl-week climate, the
papers bellowed, "Young's Townhouse
Bugged."
A little scandal, wonderfully timed
along with the doomed union meetings,
comfirmed the impression of our
unhappy guests.
Consequently, an attempt to sym-
bolize the revitalized, encouraging
local spirit has instead come to sym-
bolize a despondent, desperate spirit.
An attempt to bolster pride has eroded
pride, and when it's all over a good
many people will wish it hadn't hap-
pened.
Not now, anyway. If only the Super
Bowl could have waited until, the
people of Detroit and Pontiac were
working, the economy rolling, the
mood sweetening. The eyes of the
nation, then, would have spared our
people such painful humiliation.

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Drunken resolution

Tr'HEANN Arbor Police Department's'
crackdown on area bars and liquor
sellers finally-and thankfully-seems
to be coming to an end.
Thursday's acquittal of a University
student on charges that she had
: violated Michigan law by selling
alcohol to a minor marks the seventh
straight not guilty verdict in a series of
Telated cases. This latest acquittal-of
:Susan Sterner, an LSA senior-may
-just knock the wind out of the un-
popular crackdown.
In their crackdown effort, the Ann
yArbor Police had Explorer Scouts
ranging in age from' 18to 20, go into,
'bars and liquor stores and attempt to
' purchase alcoholic beverages.
These AAPD tactics bordered on en-
trapment, owners claimed. Some mer-
chants said the scouts came back to
their stores again and again, until:
finally they were allowed to purchase
alcohol.
Using scouts to buy the alcohol,
however, was a shrewd move on the
part of the AAPD. The term explorer
- scout congers up in the mind's eye the
4 image of a 15-year-old in a nifty brown
and red uniform asking for a six pack
of Molsons. As it turns out, many of the
scouts appeared, according to store
employees, to be well over 21.
But in many respects, the resolution
of this case seems exceedingly ap-
propriate: A stupid case elicited a
stupid resolution.
.tsan o .m rr....
Letters and columns repro

Sterner was acquitted not because of
the unfairness of the Michigan liquor
laws or because the police used
questionable methods, but because of a
technicality.
She was acquitted because the police
could not prove that she had actually
sold an alcoholic beverage to the Ex-
plorer Scout. While a police officer
testified that the drink looked like
beer and tasted like beer, the
prosecutor could not prove that the
contents of the glass served to the
scout actually was beer.
Like the rest of the whole liquor law
controversy, the resolution seemed to
ignore the real issues. It ignored the
issue of police, entrapment, much as
Michigan's liquor laws seem to ignore
the fact that drunk driving is not
limited to citizens under 21 years of
age. It ignored the question of whether
the police should devote their already
scarce resources to sleuthing in bars
rather than solving real crimes, much
as Michigan's liquor laws ignored the
ability of the state to enforce its will
upon the young.
In the end, of course, such silliness
really doesn't matter. Michigan's
liquor laws are as they are, and,
repeated attempts to change them
have failed. What matters is that a
useless and unnecessary strain on the
Ann Arbor community seems to be en-
ding.
}^$;}:: '}.:: O?} r ' 2. , }: ri~i:{"i'h.?": ::v:i "kv:". .:.. ??.: :}i;;::;.?i}.. ikr'r}::::. .:}::?"...... . . .

CHARLEVOIX, Mich.-This idyllic, snow-
blanketed, Lake Michigan community of
some 3,000 souls earned a particularly unen-
viable distinction in 1981. Charlevoix County,
of which this resort town is the seat, ended the
nation's highest unemployment year in post-
Depression history with the highest unem-
ployment rate in the state of Michigan, which
claimed the highest unemployment rate in the
nation.
This is not to say that Charlevoix County,
with a December unemployment gate of 17.3
percent, led the nation's list of economically
depressed counties. Many regions in more
prosperous states suffered much higher
Jobless rates. But there is a certain powerful
symbolism in being the most distressed coun-
ty of the most distressed state-even if it
takes an outsider (or a returned exile) to ap-
preciate it.
Adding irony to symbolism, one is struck by
the inexplicable look of wealth here. The
ugliness of poverty is effectiely muted by the
sparkling virgin snow and the twinkling lights
that adorn the new saplings along Bridge
Street, the four-block-long busness district of
chalet-style shops and restaurants. Hundreds
of imposing, three-story summer "cottages,"
with spacious lawns sloping to the water's
edge, remain empty and boarded against the
winter, awaiting the summer s influx of big-
city millionaires from less gracious locales.
EVEN MORE striking are the signs of con-
tinuing community stability and commit-,
ment. Residents coughed up $750,000 of loan
commitments and donations to build a han-
dsome new two-story -wing to the community
hospital in "1981, and the first elderly, low-
income residents recently were moved into a
new $3 million, 64-unit public housing
project-the first ever built here. Voters also
approved more than $500,000 in bonds for con-
struction of a new city water tower and, true
to form, continued to tax themselves enough
to maintain virtually all public school
programs, including extensive regional
travel for both varsity and junior varsity
athletic teams and bands. Despite a declining
enrollment, voters approved a new addition to
the high school, which serves 340 students,
two years ago.
Moreover, the academic quality of the
school system continues to provide a model,
and hope, for the future of public schooling.
High school principal Vane Smith notes that
student assessment scores routinely are well
above the state average, and that about 60
percent of graduates go on to a college or
university.
Such signs of health are all the more im-
pressive when viewed against the backdrop of
real economic depression in this county and
region. The collapse of the auto industry in
Detroit, some 300 miles south, and the

By Jon Stewart
stagnation of new construction have meant
closures or near closures of many of the
region's industrial operations, including two
cement plants, a large iron foundry and a
half-dozen or more auto parts plants.
THE RELATIVE affluence of the town
of Charlevoix is largely a function of its high
property tax valuations, which are swollen to.
more than $140 million by the extensive resort
property. But in the non-resort communities
of the area there are no rich absentee tax-
payers and thus no cushion against the record
unemployment. Nearby East Jordan,
probably the poorest community in the coun-
ty, has all but lost its principal employer, the
Iron Works, and workers at the town's Gulf
and Western stamping plant recently accep-
ted pay cuts to keep their jobs.
On top of the private sector woes, federal
and state cutbacks reduced local com-
munities' abilities to maintain social services'
at virtually all levels.
When the three-riionth summer resort
season ended in August, 1,100 workers found
themselves out of jobs-a large portion of the
county-wide force of 8,750 employed workers.
-Nearly all of them, plus hundreds more who
lost non-resori-related jobs, faced a long win-
ter of unemployment checks, shrinking
welfare aid, plunging temperatures and
soaring heating bills avaraging around $100 a
month per household for natural gasalone.
COMPLEMENTING THE town and village
hardships, nature decreed a season of foul
weather that left the, area's corn crop in
ruins.
"People are hurting for sure," commented
a Charlevoix physician. "Over the last year
the number of our patients on Medicaid has
rised from 10 percent to 40 percent of out
total, and maybe another 20 percent aren't
paying at all." And yet ...
It would be a challeng6 to find a friendlier,
more positive, hospitable community than
the small towns that dot this most distressed
county. Especially in the areas where
children are concerned-schools and city-
sponsored recreation programs-towns like
Charlevoix, Boyne City and Boyne Falls,
Petoskep and Harbor Springs are not just
surviving, but are aggressively building for
the future.
"THE BUSINESSMEN may be lining up at
the bank for loans," said-Bob Clock, a colum-
nist for the'weekly Charlevoix Courier, "but
no matter what happens we always pass our
millage (taxes) for the schools. It's just a kind
of philosophy we have here. Like old Joe
Smith, the former sheriff, used to say, 'If you
don't spend it on your kids, where you gonna

spend it?' Folks here don't go to nightclubs
much and we don't travel much. We spend
what we have on the school and the kids."
Why this extraordinary devotion to schools
at a time when public schools in most large
cities are deteriorating into ratholes as com-
munities systematically disinvest in almost
everything having to do with youth?
The advantages of Charlevoix's resort-
swollen tax base are an important factor in
this town's first-rate school, but a retired
teacher who has taught throughout the county
summed up another answer: "Because the
schools are the very, heart of these com-
munities; everything we do revolves around
the schools."
The weekly high school basketball and foot-
ball games are the social.high point in most
communities during the long fall and winter
months. "The first Friday after football
season ends people go nuts around here,' ob-
served a Charlevoix school counselor. "They
don't know what to do."
EVEN IN BLIGHTED East Jordan-where
the school had to let 10 teachers go, close the
library and end all sports funding - the com-
munity anteed up enough money through a
booster club to finance the teams throughout
the school year.
Indeed, the one certain sign of a dying
community here is the willingness to let the
local school close its doors. That appears to be
what's happening in the little agricultural
village of Wolverine, where teachers fear
they'll be out of jobs this February due to a
large deficit and the inability to pass new
taxes.
But among the communities that stubbor-
nly survive, parents and non-parents alike
take uncommon pride in both victorious
athletic teams and college-bound graduates.
Even when students leave for far-off
universities, the local courier faithfully repor-
ts on each and every student's achievements,
from making the honor roll to making the
second string of the football team..
This is not the mark of a poor or depressed
community, but a rich one. As Courier editor
Dave Knight put it in a year-end editorial: "If
over 17 percent of the able workers in the
county can't find a job, why are they sticking
around? Because the want to}live here, and
who can blame them?"
Charlevoixans, incidentally, are not the
only ones who have not given up on their
town's future, despite the gloomy statistics.
McDonald's and a 7-11 convenience store
recently announced plans to move into town.
Jon Stewart, a Charlevoix native, wrote
this article for Pacific News Service.

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