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March 29, 1988 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-03-29

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OPINION
Page 4 Tuesday, March 29, 1988 The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCVIII, No. 120 420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.
Take back the streets

Pittsfield evictions unjust

ON MONDAY, March 21, a group of
over five hundred students and con-
cerned Ann Arbor residents took to the
streets to protest the United States' in-
vasion of Honduras. The demonstra-
tors should be commended for their
concern and actions as should the Ann
Arbor police for allowing the progres-
sive faction of Ann Arbor to control the
city, and for endorsing the protest.
The protest, which was organized by
the Latin American Solidarity Commit-
tee-and endorsed by numerous other
campus and community groups, was
held in opposition to the commitment
of the U.S. Army's eighty-second air-
borne, an offensive force of 3,200
troops, to Honduras.
Protesters assembled at the Federal
Building at 4:00 p.m. and after several
speeches, moved into the street to
communicate their message against
U.S. involvement in Central America
to rush-hour motorists. The police did
not arrest the protesters for blocking
traffic and instead aided them, by redi-
recting traffic as the demonstrators
moved from intersection to intersection
throughout Ann Arbor.

Captain Conn and the rest of Ann
Arbor's finest who were present,
showed their solidarity for the cause of
peace and justice in Central America by
providing the protesters with a free pa-
rade permit. The progressive commu-
nity of Ann Arbor should examine this
model and take advantage of police
"compassion." It has become glaringly
obvious that Ann Arbor cops are finally
realizing they are outnumbered and
should allow Ann Arbor activists to
control the streets, instead of violently
assaulting them as happen during a re-
cent anti-Nazi rally.
The police, however, did find it nec-
essary to commit some abuses during
the demonstration. Some protesters
were physically moved, either b y
pushing or picking them up and
throwing them. Also, the police
refused to arrest a motorist who
intentionally drove into a crowd of
people, injuring at least one person.
The Ann Arbor police have proven
once and for all that their power can be
seized by large groups of activists. The
progressive community should exploit
their new found power.

By Cale Southworth
In an effort to raise rents and gentrify
the Pittsfield Village housing complex
McKinley properties, the landlord of the
420 unit development, has terminated the
leases of long-time Pittsfield residents and
the local tenants' rights activists.
In 1968, in response to rent riots in
Detroit, the Tenants Rights Act was
passed to ensure that a landlord could not
terminate a tenancy in retaliation for the
tenants' attempts to enforce or secure
rights arising from the tenancy. In other
words, landlords could not simply seek to
evict tenants who requested repairs or other
services guaranteed by the lease or rental
contract.
Later, State Representative Perry Bullard
(D-Ann Arbor) authored legislation that
included tenants union organizing in this
act. Tenants should have the right to a
uniontoarepresent their interests to the
landlord.
Leslie Riester moved into Pittsfield
Village in 1982 and signed a year lease to
pay $273 per month. After McKinley
Properties assumed management of Pitts-
field in January of 1986, the rent began to
increase dramatically. By the end of her
most recent lease, February 1988, her rent
had increased to $410.
But Riester's story is more tragic than
near doubling of her rent. As the mainte-
nance and quality of the buildings declined
under McKinley Properties, she was forced
to withhold rent as of March 1, 1987 to
make the landlord company repair a leaky
roof and an exterior hole in the wall. As
she paid her own heat the city weatheriza-
tion code was violated.
Riester and her housemate, Martha
Perkins, then organized the tenants to col-
lectively withhold rent over the generally
poor state of repair at Pittsfield and the
abusive management of McKinley
Properties. There had been sporadic and
isolated rent strikes before at Pittsfield to
protest the landlord's inaction, but this.
was the first organized attempt.
By April of 1987, the tenants formed
the Pittsfield Village Tenants Union
(PVTU) and the rent strike grew to 25
units - all in protest of McKinley Prop-
erties unresponsive treatment. McKinley
had raised rent, allowed the condition of
the properties to decline, refused repairs,
and employed corrupt and unreliable man-
agement who hassled the tenants and en-
tered homes without permission or fore-
warning.
Rather, than repairing the apartments
and meeting the city housing code to col-
Cale Southworth is a Daily opinion
page editor.

summary judgement against the tenants in
favor of immediate eviction. Judge
Alexander considered the defense frivolous
and placed a $6000 appeal bond on the
case.
It is a serious miscarriage of justice for
Alexander to rule against the tenants when
they were not even present to present their
case. Further, a bond of $6000 is outra-
geous, and strongly discourages chal-
lenges of a court's decision, even if the
court is wrong.
Appeal bonds typically are only a few
hundred dollars and might be as light as
the payment of rent into escrow. If the
tenants want to appeal this harsh and un-
fair decision they must come up with

lect rents, the landlord chose, as is fre-
quently the case, to take the tenants to
court to collect the rent. Moreover,
McKinley refused to recognize the PVTU.
Most of the cases were settled out of
court and in each case with a PVTU
member, the landlord company asked for a
writ of eviction or termination of the cur-

'Very, very few people are finding affordable housing in Ann
Arbor.'
-Leslie Riester, Pittsfield Village resident and tenant organizer

Du Pont ceases CFCs

rent lease. McKinley properties sought to
break the PVTU and curtail tenants rights
to the essential housing services guaran-
teed to them in their leases.
In Riester and Perkins' case, McKinley
properties refused to renew their lease
which ended in February of 1988. This has
consistently been McKinley's strategy at
Pittsfield: to refuse renewal or evict any-
one who spoke out for tenants rights or
who asked for repairs.
Last year, McKinley refused to renew
the lease of an elderly tenant who had lived
in the Pittsfield complex for 25 years.
Similarly, Riester had held her lease for
six years and several other tenants with
residency of five years or more were re-
fused renewals. In all cases, these tenants
had either complained to the management
for repairs or were members of the PVTU
or both. McKinley Properties persecutes
tenants who attempt to speak out against
the management and secure their rights to
hospitable housing from the landlords.
Although McKinley Properties settled
with Riester and Perkins, granting them
four months free rent, the landlords were
denied the writ of eviction or any guaran-
tee of termination of the lease agreement.
Riester's and Perkins' lease expired in
February. Predictably, McKinley refused
to renew their lease in clear violation of
the Retaliatory Evictions Defense.
McKinley not only attempted to force
Riester and Perkings out with tactics of
inaction on repairs and suit for payment,
but they again denied a renewal to the key
activists for tenants' rights.
Worse yet, when Riester and Perkins
attorney brought the Retaliatory Evictions
Defense to court, the Washtenaw County
judge, George W. Alexander, ruled in a

$6000, but they risk losing all this money
if they lose to the landlord in appellate
court. The judge obviously has some hid-
den motive for not wanting his verdict
challenged.
McKinley Properties and the Washtenaw
county court system are collaborating to
crush tenants' rights.- If the Retaliatory
Evictions Defense is not upheld, then no
tenant who speaks out or complains will
be safe from eviction or reprisals from
their landlord.
This case illustrates the need for rent,
stabilization which disallows any increases
in rent unless there are regular housing
inspections and guarantees of safe and ten-
antable conditions. As rents continue to
climb and the housing market continues to
shrink, landlords and large property com-
panies such as McKinley Properties and
Wilson White Co. will receive more mo-
nopolistic power over tenants which will
result in more abuse.
Assuming, as Judge Alexander did, that
tenant cases are irrelevant and that the
landlord would never retaliate against ten-
ants for just complaints will forever si-
lence those the people most in need for
fair rents and good housing. Obviously a
low income family would have a hard time
finding a $6000 bond and could never af-
ford to loose it fighting a landlord.
Without the retaliatory evictions defense
and rent stabilization, justice will remain
in the hands of the rich and the less fortu-
nate will continue their flight to Ypsilanti
or Dexter and be forced to commute to
work. In the words of one AFSCME hos-
pital employee who used to live in Ann
Arbor but has since moved due to high
rents, "They want us to work in Ann Ar-
bor, but they don't want us to live there."

N AN UNEXPECTED MOVE, the E.I.
Du Pont de Nemours and Company,
the world's largest producer of chlo-
rofluorocarbons (CFCs), Thursday
announced that it will discontinue
production of these atmosphere-
damaging chemicals.
While scientists have for 14 years
suspected that CFCs destroy the
essential atmospheric filter o f
ultraviolet radiation, the ozone layer, it
was not until recently that scientists
could positively prove this hypothesis.
Last year 31 nations, including the
United States, drafted a treaty to limit
world production of the chemicals in an
attempt to slow the depletion of the
ozone layer and hopefully minimize the
deleterious effects of ozone loss in the
future. Unfortunately, only the U.S.
and Mexico have ratified the treaty
which requires ratification by 11
nations in order to be binding.
Du Pont's decision comes a week
after a government panel of 100
'Prepy'kil'
ROBERT E. CHAMBERS Friday
pleaded guilty to first-degree man-
slaughter in a case which attracted
national attention. It is a sad social
commentary that the socioeconomic
status of this 21 year-old has had such
bearing on his trial.
Chambers immediately admitted guilt
in the killing of 18 year-old Jennifer
Levin, who, like Chambers, was also a
wealthy resident of New York's Upper
East Side, but, for the last seventeen
months he maintained that the death
was accidental. The 6-4, 190 pound
Chambers held that he struck Levin in
self-defense after the much smaller.
woman had bound his arms with a pair'
of panties. Chambers' claims did not
reconcile with the fact that Ms. Levin's
neck was severely bruised and that
manual strangulation was the cause of
her death.
This case of the "preppy" murder
came to national prominence not for the
barbarity of the crime - equally
heinous crimes occur everyday in New
York City - but because it is such a
rare occurrence for someone of Mr.
Chambers' status to ever appear in the
limelight for their crimes. Affluent,
white men are less often suspected of
criminal activity, and if they are, they

scientists concluded that ozone
depletion was occurring much more
rapidly that first predicted, and that
health effects would soon become very
costly. Du Pont upheld a promise made
in 1974 to phase out CFC production if
scientists could positively link ozone
dissipation to these chemicals which
are used as refrigerants, cleaning
solvents, and in styrofoam products.
As a producer of 25 percent of the
world's CFC output, Du Pont shows
commendable leadership when many
nations, including the U.S., are loathe
to act on this pressing problem. The
major chemical producer plans to re-
duce its production by 95 percent by
the year 2000.
Although some critics contend that
Du Pont is phasing out CFC
production for fear of lawsuits and
hopes of capturing the CFC-substitute
market, such pessimism should not
occlude the beneficial aspects of Du
Pont's decision.
ler convicted
paid in Manhattan.
Not only has the Chambers trial re-
ceived too much attention due to his
class and skin color, but it seems pos-
sible that Chambers may receive undue
leniency in his sentencing due to these
factors. While a charge of first-degree
manslaughter carries a maximum
penalty of 8-1/3 to 25 years, many ob-
servers believe that Chambers' sent-
ence will be much lighter.
Stringency, not laxness, should be
stressed when final sentencing of
Chambers takes place on April 15. In
the plea bargain, Chambers admitted
guilt in a $70,000 theft, and this should
be considered when determining his
sentence. Upon accepting the plea bar-
gain, Chambers confessed that he
meant to kill Ms. Levin, not just defend
himself against her sexual advances.
Such a plea means that Chambers has
lied to authorities for 17 months by
stating that the death was accidental.
Further, the brutality of the killing de-
mands more than a minimum sentence.
The Chambers trial proves that
justice can sometimes prevail in a
system that is largely commanded by
wealth and race. Surely, a poor, Black
man accused of such a crime would
have been found guilty in much less
time because he would not have had

LETTERS:
CIA interviews show ignorance

To the Daily: tal murder, rape and torture of car
SACUA's statement con- civilian men, women, and the
demning anti-CIA protesters children is well known. This reei
has to be answered. The Daily very tiny fraction of what the may
quoted SACUA member Prof. CIA does in the world shows but
Tom Lenaghan, saying that that freedom for the CIA means mai
their statement supports "a the lack of freedom for the wit
student's right to have an people of Asia, Africa, and tor
uninterupted job interview." Latin America. The "right" to end
Prof. Shaw Livermore i s "plan careers" with the CIA is
quoted as being dismayed that the right to be paid for helping rI
"lawful interviews" were pre- to violently trample the rights hasg
vented, and that "free unre- of others; it is nothing else. sua
stricted job interviews are S se j
something that everyone Students who seek a "job Re
should be concerned with." The interview" with the CIA have, fori
SACUA statement itself sup- at best, been on the receiving wit
ports the "right ... to speak end of an extremely poor free
with whomever they wish as education about world politics this
they plan careers beyond the and economics, colonialism he
University." and oppression. Or they simply md
In a society whose govern- lack the type of morality to be
ment oppresses others, talk of
"freedom" and "rights" in the
abstract is often used as a cover
for protecting the "rights" of
the oppressors to oppress. So
let us speak concretely. Just 15A D&-TE.
what does a career with the *
CIA entail? The history and
role of the CIA is not up for o
debate. It is an instrument of
aggression, foreign domina-
tion, dictatorship, and torture.
The CIA organized the 1960
violent coup d'etat against the
Congo's Patrice Lamumba, the
1973 coup against Allende in
Chile, and against Arbenz in
rTtemali n the 1950-,_ t isi

e about such things, since
ir right to "plan ca-
rs" must take precedence. It
y be both of these things,
let us not forget that the
in "right" being interfered
h is the "right" of the CIA
recruit for its murderous
s.
hstress here that a fight for
its which have been violated
always necessitated the
ppression of other "rights";
agan's 1980 election plat-
im included speeches replete
h the slogan of "individual
edom." As he embellished
s theme, it became clear that
meant the rights of the
ividual corporations not to
hampered by anti-

discrimination statutes, or
health and safety regulations -
the right to have freer reign
without regard for the rights of
people.
Again, this is not a free,
classless world. To protect the
rights of people, the rights of
those who would smash their
freedom (such as the CIA and
those who would work for it)
have to be curtailed. It is a fine
idea that people desiring to
sign up with this U.S. agency
of imperialism, aggression,
dictatorship, and torture are
prevented from doing so, or are
forced to slink under some rock
with their future employers in
order to do so.
-Tina O'Donnell
March 10

VOTE

FPM j
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ILI ol JI

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