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January 18, 1996 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-01-18

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 18, 1996

* ie Midigan Palig
420 Maynard Street MICHAEL ROSENBERG
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 Editor in Chief
Edited and managed by V JULIE BECKER
students at the JAMES M. NAsA
University of Michigan Editorial Page Editors
Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of a majority of the Dailv's editorial board. All
other articles, letters, and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
Free lessons
'' Law student exposes city's h iring blunder

*As women risein zkerfeldi men
* fear endangered-species status

T he University is proud of its reputation
for providing students with knowledge
they can use. Seldom does it get immediate
proof of the image.
Third-year Law student John Polish is
certainly fulfilling his end of the bargain.
Polish filed a lawsuit earlier this month,
challenging the hiring of new Ann Arbor
City Attorney Abigail Elias. Polish claims in
his suit that Elias' contract violates the Char-
ter of Ann Arbor. According to the charter,
city officials must live in Ann Arbor for at
least a year "immediately preceding election
or appointment." Elias has not lived in Ann
Arbor for a year, but the offer she received
allows her to establish residence within Ann
Arbor 12 months after her appointment.
Polish may have filed the suit merely for
attention. He may be looking for another
bullet on his resume. Or he may have been
telling the truth when he said he wants to do
taxpayers a favor - they should not have to
foot the bill for the salary of a city employee
who lives outside of the city.
Regardless of his motives, Polish's suit is
ridiculous. It will waste the court's time and
the taxpayers' money. Unfortunately, it is
also on target. The city did violate the charter
by offering Elias, a deal not in accordance
with existing law. Both Polish and his attor-
ney claim they feel Elias is qualified for the
job. They don't even want to challenge the
city charter. Instead, they claim they want to

make sure the taxpayers don't have to uphold
their end of the bargain when Elias does not.
The City Council presents what may be
valid reasons for offering Elias an abridged
contract. The council wanted to find the best
person for the job, even if he or she is not a
resident of Ann Arbor. Before accepting the
job, Elias told the council she did not want to
immediately uproot her Detroit-based fam-
ily to accept the job. If council members
thought the current charter was outdated or
unfair, they should have amended it. There
are ways to change laws, and a responsible
governing body knows what they are and
uses them. To circumvent the city's charter is
unethical, however honorable the intentions.
The irony of the office in question - the
city attorney - is almost laughable. How is
the community expected to have faith in the
legal abilities of a city attorney who accepted
a contract that blatantly defied current city
regulations?
The City Council, not Polish, should feel
the biggest burden of time and money from
this embarrassing lawsuit. If council mem-
bers had acted responsibly in the first place,
they would not have to answer to the current
charges. Unless the council goes about its
business honestly, more Law students will
no doubt have the opportunity to gain extra-
curricular law experience at the expense of
the city and its taxpayers, just as John Polish
has.

A bout two weeks ago, the American Bar
Association released a report that said,
in brief, that women aren't doing so well in
the legal profession. They are paid less than
men, get promoted less frequently and fill
fewer positions on the bench and in law-
school faculties.
I suppose we shouldn't be surprised - I
mean we've heard it all before. It's just that
things were supposed to have changed.
Actually, they have. They've gotten
worse.
The study found that the disparities in
pay, promotion and opportunity between
men and women in law have actually gotten
bigger in recent years, despite the fact that
women now make up 23 percent of the
nation's lawyers and almost 50 percent of its
law students.
Interestingly enough, according to focus
groups conducted by the ABA, male law-
yers don't see it that way. Instead, they
complain of a legal profession that offers
"special consideration" to women. Paying
them less and offering them fewer opportu-
nities - that's some real special consider-
ation.
Apparently, men have felt that their op-
portunities have been limited, and blame
affirmative action for their woes. Funny
how that works.
Since 1987, promotion rates for women
considered for partnership in eight of New
York City's largest law firms dropped by 5
to 15 percent; for men the rates went from 21
to 17 percent.
Men may have experienced the pinch of
the recessionary '90s, but it was hardly due
to affirmative action.
The difference in salaries is even more
disheartening. While men and women tend

to begin their legal careers with just a slight
difference in pay (although note that the
disparity, even if it is slight, occurs right off
the bat), the numbers for men climb faster
and steeper than those for women. In Colo-
rado law firms, for example, women with 10
to 20 years of experience earn 76 percent as
much as their male counterparts. And the
ABA found pay disparities in law firms and
companies across the nation, at every level
of seniority.
What makes this study even more de-
pressing is that it was conducted by the ABA
itself, which would have much preferred to
tell a different tale. We can't disregard this
as a study that had its answers before it was
conducted; the ABA had nothing to gain by
exaggerating its figures.
The researchers were careful to take all
factors into consideration, noting, for in-
stance, that women work for the government
and in public-interest law in disproportion-
ately high numbers, where lawyers tend to
receive lower salaries than in the private
sector. But the study corrected for this, as it
did for lawyers taking maternal, and pater-
nal, leave. They looked at individual cities
and types of firms, seeking to compare like
situations rather than report general, mean-
ingless statistics.
Yet the numbers still look grim, and the
anecdotal evidence used as examples paints
an even uglier picture. The report details
women not getting credit for their achieve-
ments, being discouraged from having chil-
dren and returning to their practices and
being excluded from firms' "male" activi-
ties.
Moreover, the study shows that in law
schools across the nation hostility toward
women is on the rise.

It appears some male law-school stu-
dents resent women's presence intheirclass-
rooms. They're upset about affirmative ac-
tion as well.
So not only has equal opportunity re-
gressed for female lawyers in the last de-
cade, but they are suffering a backlash from
men who believe otherwise. The study cites
incidents of women being called "femi-Na-
zis" (I know, I know, your favorite and
mine) by male peers and ignored by male
faculty. Researchers likened the atmosphere
for women in law school now to that of the
early '70s, when women made up only 3
percent of law-school students.
The significance of the ABA's study
obviously reaches well beyond law. If law-
yers and lawyer-wannabes, who know bet-
ter than anyone about sexual discrimination
cases and lawsuits, are giving women less
opportunities and treating them with, to put
it mildly, disrespect, chances are everyone
else is too.
Meanwhile, people all over the country
are clamoring to get rid of affirmative ac-
tion, saying it's already done the job, or it's
bad for the self-esteem of women and mi-
norities.
It seems to me that getting paid less than
other people doing the same work, being
passed over for promotion and being treated
like second-rate professionals is bad forself-
esteem - not affirmative action.
What we need to do is look at how'
women and minorities are really faring in,
this country, instead of lamenting the de-
mise of the "endangered" great white male.
The playing field is, as they like to say;
still far from level.
- Judith Kafka can be reached over
e-mail at jkafka@umich.edU

0

0

MATT WIMSATT
~-I

Moo's DaIEMiA

, - Q 4

A bitter harvest
State's tobacco ties stain health message

'I

r / '--

i

oh (I-REFUGE
Kr/-

NOTABLE QUOTAi)ir
'I don't think the
position of MSA
has great
Impact.'
- Michigan Student
Assembly Vice President
Sam Goodstein, discuss-
ing MSA 's support of the
Graduate Employees
Organization resolution

16

DR1Li4O
RIGHTS

6 \

The state of Michigan spends millions of
dollars each year convincing its citizens
that smoking is bad for their health. At the
same time, the Michigan Treasury has nearly
$400 million directly invested in tobacco
companies. News of these investments is
distressing. Not only is it a conflict of interest
for the state to invest in tobacco companies
while trying to promote preventative health
measures, it is unethical.
Reports by the Michigan Department of
Treasury show that the state pension fund for
government employees, public school em-
ployees, judges and state police owns 6.5
million shares of stock worth $393 million in
five tobacco companies. Among the 35 states
reporting such holdings, Michigan invested
the most, according to a 1992 survey by the
American Public Health Association. While
Michigan invests in tobacco companies, it
spends $1.5 million each year in broadcast
messages against smoking, and another $3.5
million is spent on smoking prevention and
cessation programs in local communities.
Gov. John Engler's 1994 "Action Plan for
Our Future" called on the treasury to recom-
mend how best to sell off pension fund hold-
ings in tobacco companies. "We will send a
strong message to tobacco companies to stop
targeting our children with their advertising
and marketing slogans," Engler said. State
Treasurer Douglas Roberts looked into di-
vesting in tobacco companies, but decided
How To CONTACT THEM

against it. Engler relies on Roberts in invest-
ment matters, and a spokesman for the gov-
ernor said Roberts made effective arguments
against selling the stocks. However, Engler
should take a closer look.
Smoking takes a great toll on Michigan
residents, both in health and economic mat-
ters. According to health officials, there were
more than 16,000 smoking-related deaths in
Michigan in 1993, the most recent year for
which data is available. Beyond the human
toll, the costs incurred by the state for smok-
ing-related illnesses is staggering. A 1991
Centers for Disease Control report showed
that smoking costs Michigan about $240
million a year in direct health care expenses.
The treasurer now says he is "uncomfort-
able" making ethical judgments about how
to invest pension money. He would like to
change the pension system to allow employ-
ees to hire their own money managers and
invest however they choose. The state has
yet to solve its problem. Attorney General
Frank Kelley has asked the governor to order
the state to sell off its tobacco interests. State
Sen. Henry Stallings (D-Detroit) plans to
introduce legislation in the Senate to force
the treasury to sell off the tobacco invest-
ments. The governor should follow through
with his promise and rid the state of its
tobacco investment. It would reaffirm the
state's public health policy and solve its
moral predicament.

DRILLING PROPERTY, Qi07

rTA

SILUON FoR PRIME
SBALANCE THAT BUDE T"

I

:i

PRESS CLIPPINGS

, .

F

Affirmative action still has a place

By Kenji Hosokawa
Many, these days, denigrate
affirmative action as a practice
that perpetuates African Ameri-
cans' dependence on the govern-
ment. This criticism, interest-
ingly, is no longer endorsed just
by angry Caucasians: numerous
black intellectuals, like Clarence
Thomas, also advocate this view.
These conservatives say that the
federal programs that provide
special treatment to ethnic mi-,
norities have allowed Caucasians
to patronize them, thus preserv-
ing dangerous racial stereotypes,
such as "blacks are lazy." Instead,
it is argued, by weaning them-
selves from the government,
people of color can learn to be-
come self-sufficient, responsible
citizens, who would then prove to
society that they are indeed as
equal as the rest of the American
people.
What is remarkable about this
view is that it comes from the
belief in the strong individual. A
significant number of people ap-
parently think that such an ab-
stract Millian philosophy can
somehow solve a major problem
Hosokawa is a first-year
student at Dartmouth College.
This article is reprinted wilh
permission ifoni
The Dartmouth.

of this society, namely the racial
rift. This, to me, is remarkable
because the view obviously ig-
niores the fact that the modern
world no longer resorts to such a
platonic vision.
Of course, there were times in
our history when people's mere
ideological convictions created
impetuses for social progress.
Belief in democracyforexample,
united Americans to stand firmly
against Communists. However,
these times are behind us. As
witnessed in the collapse of the
Soviet Union and the crumbling
state of North Korea. messianic
ideologies can no longer sustain
social stability. I do not deny that
some parts of the world, like
Bosnia, still cling to blind ide-
ologies, but in the current West,
practicality and rationality serve
as the foundation of society. This
trend is visible in the U.S.
government's recent precondi-
tions for Most Favored Nation
status, most significant of which
in the past was human rights,
aggressively advocated by many
Americans with ideological pas-
sion. Now, however, an increas-
ing number of elected officials
emphasize practicality, viewing
MFN status as a means to create
strong business ties with devel-
oping nations that can lead to
cultural exchange resulting in the

resolution of human rights prob-
lems. This is why various politi-
cians, abandoning the belief that
there exists an intrinsic value in
promoting such rights, are urging
the administration to extend the
status to China, despite its denial
of human rights to many of its
people.
Just as most Palestinians care
more about their tremendous un-
employment than the euphemis-
tic goals of their peace talks with
Israelis, the vast majority of Afri-
can Americans are concerned
with their material well-being,
not with whether Caucasians are
patronizing them. According to
Time magazine, only6percentof
blacks feel that the government is
excessively helping them. As long
as there are virtually no African
American high-level politicians
or Fortune 500 CEOs, the black
community will continue to feel
victimized and want help. And
this unhappiness surfaces occa-
sionally, as it did during the O. J.
Simpson trial, when polls re-
vealed the deep mistrust of the
police among African Americans.
Even if the police eliminated all
racist officers, as long as blacks
saw that a third of their people in
their 20s are incarcerated, on pro-
bation, or on parole, many of
them would always irrationally
conclude that they are being

wronged, even if such a reality
were inevitable, given black so-
cioeconomic status in the United
States.
Dinesh D'souza frequentlL
discusses "rational racism."
thinks the use of racial stereo-
types to avoid unnecessary risks
isjustified. No one should accuse:
a cab driver for not picking' tup
African American males after
midnight, he says. The argument
goes that the driver, calculating
the chances of being robbedbyt
white and black customers,isohly
being forced to behave rationall'
In order for society to oveI
come its racial division, it nusi
allow everyone to live without
rely ing on rational racism. Soci-
ety can achieve this only by trans-
forming social realities to reflect
the expectations of its people.:ir
other words, the number of Afri-
can Americans who are execu-
tives must be proportionate to the
number of African Americans in
the population (unless you b
lieve in the study showing that
blacks are intellectually inferior
to Asians and whites). Affirma-
tive action can expedite the at-
tainment of this result. Perhaps
this may enforce white paternal-
ism, but I doubt that most ethnic
minorities care. Ultimately the
practice will lead to interracial
peace.
WHAT'S ON
YOUR MIND?
\ V. XT T1 AT'V T V 01r

Ann Arbor City Council
Tobi Hanna-Davies (D-1st Ward), Patricia Vereen-Dixon (D-1st Ward),
David Kwan (R-2nd Ward), Jane Lumm (R-2nd.Ward), Jean Carlberg (D-3rd Ward),
Heidi Cowling Herrell (D-3rd Ward), Patrick Putman (R-4th Ward),
Stephen Hartwell (D-4th Ward), Elisabeth Daley (D-5th Ward),
Christopher Kolb (D-5th Ward)
Ann Arbor City Hall
100 N. Fifth Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48107
994-3313

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