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September 08, 1988 - Image 63

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-09-08

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 8, 1988-- Page 7

ANN ARBOR ISSUES

Changes:
What's
happening
to our city?

ROBIN LOZNAK/Daly

Bentley Historical Library

Main Street, 1870 Main Street, 1988

GOP
BY PETER MOONEY
Ann Arbor is widely viewed as a
bastion of liberalism in the Mid-
west.
Because of this reputation, a Re-
publican victory in last April's Ann
Arbor City Council elections sur-
prised many followers of local poli-
tics. After three years of Democratic
hegemony in city council, the new
GOP councilmembers say they plan
not to change city government radi-
cally, but to redirect its priorities
instead.
The Republican councilmembers
received most of their support from
homeowners, while Democrats were
more successful among renters, said
city Democratic Party chair Mary
Reilly. She cited a tremendous turn-

dominates Aity Council

out among those homeowners who
opposed a rent control initiative on
the city ballot as the main reason the
Democrats lost.
GIVEN THE homeowner sup-
port base of city Republicans, some
fear the new council will be less re-
ceptive to tenant issues. The Demo-
cratic-led council rewrote the city
housing code, which sets mainte-
nance and safety standards for rental
units. Landlords, with backing from
council Republicans, protested these
changes were unnecessarily rigid and
costly to implement.
Local advocates for the area's
low-income population expect the
present council to be less supportive
than the Democrats of efforts to ex-
pand the amount of low-income

housing in the city.
Republicans opposed a council
resolution last year to support the
construction of a dormitory style,
single-room occupancy housing
project on Liberty Street because
neighborhood homeowners com-
plained, fearing an increase in crime.
Councilmember Tom Richardson
(R-5th Ward) said the Liberty Street
project's proponents were not "real-
istic" about the risks to local res-
idents.
INSTEAD, the new council has
favored expanding the existing
YMCA building. Though she has
not opposed the "Y" project, Kathy
Edgren (D-5th Ward) has said the
Liberty Street project would have
provided more housing at a lower

cost.
Democratic and Republican
councilmembers also differ in their
attitudes toward the Ann Arbor po-
lice.
During last summer's Ann Arbor
Street Art Fair, citizens accused sev-
eral police officers of behaving in a
violent and brutal manner while
breaking up 1,000 students and Ann
Arbor residents partying on Church
Street.
Councilmember Terry Martin (R-
2nd Ward) has defended the behavior
of police, noting that none of the
accusations made against them has
been verified. Councilmember Jeff
Epton (D-3rd Ward) and former
Democratic Councilmember Dave
DeVarti said police hit members of

the crowd with clubs and flashlights.
LAST YEAR, Epton drafted a
proposal that the council create a
citizen's review board to allow out-
side investigation of complaints
against the police. DeVarti and other
Democrats said they would support
such a policy, but Epton never pro-
posed it to the council because he
feared Republican Mayor Gerald
Jernigan - who consistently defends
the Ann Arbor Police Department -
would veto it.
Rather than criticize the police
department, Martin said the Re-
publican council intends to ensure
the police establish a more visible
neighborhood presence to discourage
crack dealing.
The Republican councilmembers
promise to be less critical of the po-
lice than the Democrats whose criti-
cisms of the police, Republicans
say, distract the department from
Ann Arbor's problems with violent
and drug-related crime.
Ouimet was critical of a Demo-
crat-supported ordinance passed last
fall requiring the police issue
monthly reports detailing all reported
crimes in Ann Arbor and all com-
plaints against the police depart-
ment. The time needed to prepare the
reports "takes police officers off their
beats," Ouimet said.
DEVARTI, who lost his seat to
Ouimet in April, responded that the
council "worked with the police de-

partment to formulate a set-up that
would best allow them to respond to
issues such as crime."
Jernigan made the creation of a
police cadet program one of his first
priorities for the new council. Cadets
are not sworn officers and cannot
make arrests, but would be able to
patrol various areas of the city and
relieve officers of clerical chores.
The Republicans are already
working to address the concerns of
one of their biggest support bases,
local merchants. Downtown shop-
keepers have long complained about
skateboarders bothering customers.
They also say fliers plastered over
telephone poles make downtown
unattractive. In May, the council
voted to ban both postering and
skateboarding downtown.
COMPARATIVELY, the
Democratic-led council's top priority
for downtown was affordable hous-
ing. Councilmember Kathy Edgren
(D-5th Ward) said the Republican-
controlled city council may let
affordable housing slip as a priority.
"The Republicans are working for
the merchants downtown. There is
not as much interest or commitment
to making sure people have afford-
able housing," she said.
On the issue of downtown devel-
opment, the Republicans will share
the Democrats' concerns - prevent:
ing development that will alter the
character of the city.

T1 n - . .w' TT.1 1 T T' T\TTW flT T'

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