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April 04, 1995 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-04-04

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 4, 1995

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Transportation X: Planes,
trains and cab drivers


Ann Arbor, MI 48109 Editor in Chief
Edited and managed by .JULIE BECKER
students at the JAMEs NAsH
University of Michigan Editorial Page Editors
Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of a majority of the Daily's editorial board. All
other articles, letters, and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
No-vwin situation
City makes best possible deal in 'Y' debacle
F ourteen months after it began, the city of City Council also wasted time debating the
Ann Arbor-YMCA debacle has finally legality of the original loan agreement--even
reached a conclusion. Unfortunately for the after the state declared the agreement illegal.
city, this conclusion will cost it well over a At least one council member compromised the
million dollars. At the same time, the City city's case by leaking details of proposed
Council has lost face by failing to accomplish settlements to the press.
the objectives that held up a settlement for However, the City Council was not alone in
more than a year. creating this fiasco. The YMCA must share the
In 1988, City Council agreed to guarantee blame. One reason for the problems, as alleged
aloanfromGreatLakes Bancorptothe YMCA, by the city, was the fact that YMCA officials
allowing that non-profit group to add anumber misrepresented their ability to repay the loan in
of low-income housing units to its facility on order to gain the guarantee from the city. If
Fifth Avenue. The arrangement went smoothly true, the YMCA should at the very least pay its
until early last year, when the YMCA reported own legal fees.
financial difficulties and asked the city to help What exactly has been gained by the year of
with the loan payments. Instead of complying acrimonious debate? For the residents of Ann
with the agreement, the city questioned the Arbor, absolutely nothing. Instead, where the
legality of theoriginal contract. The two groups city could have paid small monthly sums until
tried to negotiate a refinancing pact with the YMCA revenues again matched loan payment
bank to get around the loan guarantee, but needs, the city is now saddled with a $1.2
those negotiations failed. million burden, plus $150,000 in legal fees,
After numerous delays and missed dead- and perhaps also the $60,000 legal bill in-
lines on paying back the loan, Great Lakes curred by the YMCA. Furthermore, the ten-
Bancorp filed lawsuits against both the city ants rights issue is unresolved, abandoned in
and the YMCA for defaulting on the loan. The the interest of ending this sordid affair. Al-
YMCA then countersued the city, asking the though that question may arise again, as a
court to decide whether the original agreement result of a lawsuit filed by the Ann Arbor
was in fact legal. Faced with a potentially Tenants Union, the City Council has lost a
damaging ruling from the court, the council chance to protect the low-income and nearly
capitulated in a landmark decision last Thurs- powerless residents of the YMCA.
day, agreeing to pay the bank $1.2 million. Unfortunately, the fallout from the case is
The council's decision was appropriate still to come. Although the council's decision
considering the circumstances. The city could closes the chapter on the loan, $1.2 million is
not afford to bleed legal fees on a case it would a substantial amount. If the sum is not re-
probably lose. But in paying out more than $1 couped through bond sales by the end of June,
million, the council has only solved a mess the balance will be made up by-across-the-
largely of its own making. The council last board spending cuts, with the possibility of
December attempted to force the YMCA into temporarily shutting down city hall. While a
a tenant management plan that it could not terrible outcome, it may be a fitting conclusion
accept, stalling a solution to the loan crisis. The to this debacle.
Choosing not to choose
Rejection of term limits a victory for voters

The ultimate grunge movie "Slacker"
opens as a guy wakes up on a bus, gets
off, and catches a cab. "Man, I just had the
weirdest dream, back on the bus there ..."
he begins telling the cab driver, who then
sits without comment through the guy's
10-minute monologue on alternate reali-
ties, how he could have ended up hitchhik-
ing and getting a ride from a woman he
didn't know, how they'd play pinball to-
gether and how he'd eventually end up
moving in. "Man, shit, I should have stayed
at the bus station," he concludes.
This guy had it good: He managed to
babble incessantly at a cab driver, instead
of having the cab driver babble inces-
santly at him. Although some cab drivers
manage to say absolutely nothing the en-
tire ride (this includes the guy who had
installed a TV set into the floor of his cab),
a sizable minority have figured out The
Universe, Government, and Why It All
Sucks, and will proceed to tell you all
about it -even if you feign a coma in the
back seat.
Following the logic of some cab driv-
ers' thoughts is enough to make your head
spin. On a recent trip to Midway Airport in
Chicago, the conversation went like this.
Cab driver: "Since you're still in college,
do any of your professors talk about over-
Me, already thinking I should take notes
on this conversation: "Do you mean the

overpopulation of the world?"
Cab driver: "No, of just this country.
Because you know when they talk about
'creating' a job, that just means other
people lose their jobs."
Me: (Silence. Thinking this guy should
write speeches for Clinton.)
Then I was treated to The Monologue-
a ramble on practically everything that re-
quired absolutely no input from me. "Did
you hear they have this light bulb now that
give indefinite light?" he asked. "Yeah, a
guy came up with that about 10 years ago.
And now they've got people who don't
need their glasses anymore. They give them
this operation ..."
I think that's where I lost him com-
pletely in a tangle of cab-driver logic, and he
shut up for the rest of the ride. In the end, he
was smarter than the airline agents who
scheduled my flight: On atrip from Chicago
to San Francisco, I somehow ended up with
a five-hour layover on Cleveland. Someone
clearly had it in for me.
In this way a cab ride is the perfect
beginning to any trip: It prepares you for the
absurdity that characterizes traveling ingen-
eral. The airlines' current hub system is
supposed to cut prices by minimizing the
number of flights, but someone with a de-
gree in post-modern literature was clearly
hired to design some of the schedules. One
songwriter in the'60s, driving from Florida
and distrustful of the South, wondered if he

could get "to L.A. via Omaha."
If he flew Continental, he'd have to -
unless they decided to stop off in Bangor,
Maine, first, in which case the layover
would be in San Bernadino.
Then there's the whole principle ofplanes
in general. Next to a couple of skyscrapers,
a jet airplane is hands down the heaviest
thing I have ever seen.
Yet every time, impossibly, this ma-
chine lifts off the ground into the air and
clouds, a lead-footed beast tearing through
the breath of angels. I was sure gravity had
more sense than that, but there I am, pay-
ing $275.50 for a seat on a contraption that
defies the laws of physics onaregularbasis.
Once airborne, the result of all of this
technology is that all technology falls away
to insignificance. For a while, the tiny cars
rush this way and that on the small ribbon
of road, cruising among the neat squares
of farmland and the impossibly straight
rows of houses in the suburbs with only
the occasional swimming pool to break
the monotony of the square green lawns.
But after a few minutes, with my face pressed
close to the cold of the plane window, all of
that disappears into a blur of brown land,
snow-capped mountains, and featureless
plains. This heavy hunk of metal hurtling
through the sky is the last evidence I can see
of life on Earth.
And the cab driver says there's over-

i W94A W

gGH J)

"The idea that you
can't tell It like It
Is because It will
offend some
groups in our
society Is a
mistake. it's just
a mistake."
- University history
lecturer Tom Collier, on
the Smithsonian Institute's
decision to throw away text
on the Enola Gay exhibit in
the face of congressional



L ast Wednesday, the U.S. House rejected
four Contract With America proposals
that would have imposed constitutional lim-
its on the number of terms senators and
representatives could represent their con-
stituencies. With this vote, the House placed
good governance above short-term political
Term limits are the most broadly sup-
ported element of the Contract With America,
with some 80 percent of the American public
backing measures that limit the time indi-
viduals can serve in Congress. This support
is fueled by a public disgust with the role
lobbyists and special interests play in the
government. However, term limits are not a
substitute for lobbying and campaign-finance
reforms, and consequently, they will not
improve the functioning of government. As
Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) put it,
term limits are "the lazy man's excuse for
what's wrong with Congress."
The most eloquent criticism of term limits
came, quite surprisingly, from a Republican,
Rep. Henry J. Hyde of Illinois, who has
served in Congress since 1974. Hyde noted
that experience is fundamental to the effec-
tive running of Congress. As Hyde put it, "To
do your job around here, you've got to know
something about environmental issues, health
care, banking ... (America) needs statesmen
State Rep. Mary Schroer
(D-52nd district, North Campus)
99 Olds Plaza Building
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 373-1792

and it needs giants - and you don't get them
out of the phone book."
By limiting the number of terms represen-
tatives could serve, term-limit legislation
would turn Congress into a chaotic play-
ground. Members of Congress would lack
sufficient knowledge about policy areas in
which they will be legislating. They would
increasingly come to rely upon a corps of
legislative aides who had the experience and
practical knowledge so necessary to the pro-
cess of legislation. These aides would be-
come permanent fixtures in the Washington
political structure, and would acquire a deci-
sive role in the workings of Congress. In-
deed, few things are more frightening then a
legislative body that functions through
unelected aides who are not accountable to
the general public.
Term-limit legislation also denies the
public the right to choose those whom they
wish to represent them. Under term-limit
legislation, the public can not re-elect legis-
lators who have effectively served their dis-
trict or state for 12 years. Instead, the public
will be forced to elect an individual with no
congressional track record.
Perhaps the most succinct criticism of
term-limit legislation was delivered by Rep.
Bill Richardson (D-N.M.): "We've already
got term limits. They're called elections."
State Rep. Uz Brater
(D-53rd district, Central Campus)
412 Roosevelt Building
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 373-2577

Multiculturalism: A '90s p.c. charade

By Vahe Tazian
When I became a student at
the University of Michigan, I felt
as if I were being bombarded
with various ideas and programs
that promoted diversity and
multiculturalism. I soon realized
this institution's serious commit-
ment to multi-culturalism --
which is viewed as a way to make
Americans more sensitive to the
diverse cultural and ethnic back-
grounds of people in this coun-
try. However, in an attempt to
achieve this goal and promote
multiculturalism, the facts of
American history and the course
of its development have been dis-
torted and even eliminated. I now
realize that multiculturalism has
gone too far.
The goals set forth and imple-
mented by multiculturalists are
doing a great disservice to many,
especially minority students, who
have multicultural views imposed
on them. Diversity is a nice idea
to promote. Learning about the
different cultures and ethnicities
in this country should most defi-
nitely be looked upon as a posi-
tive idea. However, it must not
be done at the expense of Ameri-
cans, and the values and beliefs
they cherish, as it is now.
America has always taken
pride in being a melting-pot cul-
ture, where people of all back-
grounds are welcome and are
treated as equals. There is no
question that this country has had

their native cultures. We should
all learn to assimilate, rather than
point fingers. In order for
America to succeed as an inte-
grated society, we must all be-
have as though we are Ameri-
cans. This does not advocate for-
getting who we are as individu-
als, orforgettingourcultural heri-
tage. These ideas should be en-
couraged and upheld in the home
and in the community, not in
university lectures, or in elemen-
tary classrooms, as is occurring.
When we examine what the
United States has stood for, we
will realize this country, which is
the greatest nation in the world,
has been defined by the idea of
self-reliance. This is the "land of
opportunity." This is the country
to which so many immigrants
have dreams and aspirations of
coming. This is the country that
was built on the notion of every-
body fending for themselves and
their families. Multiculturalists
would like to rob us of these
fundamental ideas.
Those in the multiculturalist
movement certainly may have
had good intentions in believing
that the movement will help mi-
norities and whites become more
well-rounded. In fact, courses
should be taught, like those at the
University, about Third World
countries, African Americans and
other cultures, for obvious rea-
sons, most importantly aware-
ness. These are subjects that

to Martin Luther King Jr. Indeed,
Dr. King does have his place in
American history and his efforts
in the Civil Rights movement
should be acknowledged. How-
ever, he should not be the pri-
mary focus of American history.
As a result of multicultural revi-
sionism, students are not receiv-
ing an accurate depiction of the
development and history of the
country in which they live.
Multiculturalists believe we
should be teaching students about
the virtues and vices of the op-
pressive societies that so many
immigrants fled, rather than
teaching them about the free so-
ciety they sought. Teaching mi-
nority students how their ances-
tors were oppressed only rein-
forces the feelings of subjuga-
tion minorities have historically
experienced. I question why stu-
dents are not taught in Race and
Ethnicity classes, for example,
about the positive contributions
Powell and Thurgood Marshall,
have made to our society, rather
than emphasizing how cruelly
whites treated minorities.
A recent University of Chi-
cago study highlights the prob-
lem even further. Marta Tienda,
the study author and a sociolo-
gist, said many children ofimmi-
grant parents, particularly Blacks
and Hispanics, experienced de-
clining academic achievement
with succeeding generations.

that minorities, and especially
Blacks, will neverbe able to make
it if they have to play by the same
rules, because America is inher-
ently racist and prejudiced. If
that is the case, how is it that so
many Vietnamese and Chinese
immigrants who arrive on the
West Coast are able to speak
English within a few years, many
of them become successful busi-
nessowners, and many have chil-
dren excelling in our schools?
They are perfect examples of
what America stands for. These
immigrants, whether they be
Asian, Cuban or Russian, came
to the United States to escape the
oppression in their countries and
take advantage of the opportuni-
ties available in America. They
are not taught or encouraged to
be bitter at America, or that they
should dwell on the study of their
own cultures. They came to suc-
ceed within the rules, not to
change the rules.
African Americans may ar-
gue that they didn't choose to
come to this country; their ances-
tors were brought here. There is
no denying that occurred. That
was unquestionably America's
greatest sin ever. But there is
nothing we can do about that
now. It's time to move on, and
stop dwelling on the past.
America allows for individual
freedom and self-development.
America allows for people to
come to this country with practi-


State Sen. Alma Wheeler Smith
(D-Washtenaw County)
410 Farnum Building


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