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November 03, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-11-03

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4A - Friday, November 3, 2006

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890
413 E. Huron St.
r Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed
articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Bring back Brater
Experience and issues make incumbent the best choice
W ith term limits ensuring few politicians stay in Lansing
for long, state Sen. Liz Brater is about as experienced a
Michigan legislator as one will find these days. Brater
is seeking a second and final four-year term in the state Senate
from the 18th district, having already served in the state House for
six years, the maximum allowed. She faces challenges from Repub-
lican John Kopinski and a write-in candidate, Tom Partridge.

When black
Americans refer to
Obama as 'one of
us,' I do not know
what they are
talking about....
(He has not) lived
the life of a black
ring to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), in a
column published yesterday in
the New York Daily News.

5 {('
\ i S{j


Six simple rules for life in A2

nside Michigan Politics editor Bill Bal-
lenger has designated Brater as the most
liberal state senator. While that might
be a dangerous label elsewhere in the state,
it won't hurt Brater's chances for re-election
from a solidly Democratic district in Washt-
enaw County. The slant of Brater's district
gives her the freedom to voice concerns that
other Democrats might avoid, such as point-
ing out that the state needs more revenue
to provide the services that residents want
from it.
Brater hasn't had terribly much luck get-
ting her legislation on the agenda over the
past four years, but that's life in the state
Legislature's minority party. She has some
solid ideas, though, that deserve more
attention than they've received. Brater has
proposed a package of voting reforms that
would allow separate addresses for voter
registration and drivers' licenses. Currently,
they must be the same, a restriction that
keeps many college students from voting.
She wants to see more mentally ill criminals
receive treatment rather than jail time, and
she has constructive ideas for developing a
land-use policy different from the status quo
of urban sprawl and neglect of core cities.
John Kopinski, Brater's Republican chal-
lenger, is running in part to encourage more

young people to become involved in politics.
You can even find the 25-year-old Michigan
Tech alumnus on Facebook and MySpace.
A political newcomer, Kopinski is refresh-
ingly willing to ignore the typical partisan
divisions. He's happy with his opponent's
environmental advocacy. Kopinski is down-
right enthusiastic about improving public
transit - an awfully rare quality for a Michi-
gan Republican seeking public office.
The Elliott-Larsen Act, Michigan's prima-
ry civil rights law, currently protects against
unfair treatment based on height or weight,
but does not prohibit discrimination on the
basis of sexual orientation. Kopinski is open
to changing that. In other areas, however,
Kopinski adheres to his putative party line
all too well, staking out hard-right social
conservative positions on abortion - he
opposes it even in cases of rape and incest-
and on embryonic stem-cell research.
Kopinski is an interesting candidate,
and government would work better if our
political system were more amenable to
candidates like him who aren't easy to paint
entirely in red or blue. His lack of experi-
ence and his social views, however, compare
unfavorably to the Democratic incumbent,
and the Daily endorses LIZ BRATER for
state Senate from the 18th district.

Rail line superior to costly highway expansion
Michigan's attempt to claim a more sustainable and secure
future is in many ways a collective cultural response
to the slow and raspy death of its automotive industry.
And in a state that has shunned public transportation in nearly all
forms, trains are finally revealing their potential. Perhaps steel and
wheels cannot solve all of Michigan's economic difficulties or ease
the transition to a knowledge-based economy, but a new model of
human and environmental interaction surely couldn't hurt.

What southeastern Michigan needs
is a commuter rail line - both to
provide a much-needed service
to commuters, and because the proposed
commuter rail is more economically viable
than the alternative. Ann Arbor Mayor
John Hieftje's floating plan for an Ann
Arbor-Livingston County commuter rail
line to ease congestion along the US-23 cor-
ridor may become a reality.
Over the past year, decades ofcareful plan-
ning for publicransit have found a home in a
set of existing freight lines. Early June saw a
coalition of local politicians, entrepreneurs,
railway enthusiasts and University repre-
sentatives embark on an 80-mile passen-
ger voyage along the Ann Arbor and Great
Lakes Central Railroads in anticipation of
the inception of a new era of transportation
based on an old model - commuter rail. The
occasion was the union of the local govern-
ment's enthusiasm for the rail project with
concerted private support.
Louis P. Ferris Jr., owner of the Federated
Financial Corp of America, acquired the Tus-
cola Saginaw Bay Railway (promptly renamed
the Great Lakes Central Railway) in March
and has since dedicated his financial prowess
to building a coalition of public subsidies and
private-sector funds to facilitate the project's
groundbreaking. While you may not be able
to ride the rails by this time nextyear, Ferris's
support should help to boost morale for the
wait. Ever the optimistic gambler, Ferris has
also invested in 52 double-decker, stainless-
steel passenger rail cars.
The project will not require laying new
rail, though significant modifications of
the existing freight line will be required to
enable the passenger rail line to make its
first run in three years. The track must be
updated to allow trains to travel up to 60

miles per hour; several crossing gates must
be installed along the line, and at least three
stations, including a proposed park-and-
ride stop, will have to be built. All told, the
commuter project is a $27-million invest-
ment - a number that, as Hieftje and Fer-
ris point out, is far less terrifying than the
$500 million required to add a third lane to
the local stretch of US-23.
The wide coalition rallying in support of
the return of trains to Michigan's heartlands
should make the prospect of raising the
required $27 million less harrowing. Sus-
tainable energy advocates, cultural roman-
tics, proponents of more effective land-use
laws and sequestered suburbanites looking
for a bit of the East Coast experience - or
sick of the search for parking garages - all
rejoice in the increasing likelihood of the
line's construction.
But money alone will not bring the trains.
Finances and red tape waltz hand-in-hand
over the graves of many would-be commu-
nity initiatives, and the passenger rail is no
exception. As per the policies of the Michi-
gan Department of Transportation, the Ann
Arbor community must conduct an envi-
ronmental impact study of the proposed
changes to Ferris's rail lines. The study
must then weigh these results against the
US-23 expansion plans. The study is slated
to take 18 months, but Hieftje is optimistic
that the same coalition that will fund the
rails will also help to speed up grassroots
research efforts.
Public transportation can do wonders for
the transformation of communities from
isolated nodes of random and temporary
interaction to bustling, dynamic human
landscapes. All that for $400 million less
than the cost of a third lane? Even the ghost
of Henry Ford would drink to that.

A nyonewhio
how passionate I
am about chang-
ing the housing
situation for stu-
dents across cam-
watched injustice JARED
after injusticeG
plague friends GOLDBERG
and roommates.
Now, given that I will not be living in
Ann Arbor next year, and I have lived
here as a student nearly consistently
for nearly four years, it's time to share
my wisdom about the reality of hous-
ing for University students here in
glorious Ann Arbor.
1. On-campus housing is lousy. The
largest dorm - Bursley Hall, home to
1,240 people - is about as far as you
can get from Central Campus. It's
also the most recently constructed
dorm, though it was completed near-
ly 40 years ago. The cleanliness of
residence hall bathrooms, especially
community ones, leaves much to be
desired. And whoever thought that
not building a cafeteria in every resi-
dence hall was a good idea probably
never had to trudge through snow
(uphill) to the neighboring residence
2. Off-campus housing is worse. If
you thought a cramped cell in Mark-
ley was bad, try living in the slum ten-
ements located just off campus. The
prices are outrageous, the houses and
apartments could easily be confused
with crack dens, and student neigh-
borhoods are a major target of crime.
While the Ann Arbor Police Depart-
ment practically sends out a SWAT
team to off-campus neighborhoods to
enforce alcohol laws, the police were
Columnist wrong: No
mutiny for Steele
I'm curious to know where John
Stiglich has been getting his informa-
tion about the Maryland Senate race
between Ben Cardin and Michael
Steele (Stealing Obama's thunder,
11/02/2006). Stiglich states that Prince
George County's blacks are engaged in
mutiny against the Democratic Party.
While several black Democratic county
leaders have recently endorsed Steele,
yesterday's WashingtonPostnotes that,
in the last gubernatorial election in
Maryland (from which Steele emerged
as lieutenant governor), only 14 per-
cent of that county's black voters sup-
ported him. Not exactly overwhelming
numbers. Additionally, according to
an Oct. 22-26 poll by the Washington
Post, Steele trails Cardin by 11 percent.
Hardly a reason tobe scared shitless.
Aaron Willis
LSA sophomore
Borat'a film to be
taken lightly
I truly feel bad for the two authors
of The real Borat (11/01/2006) who
are afraid to publish their names in
the Daily because of the likelihood of
retribution from the government of
Kazakhstan. But I have to ask, given
the fear that repressive government
has inspired in them, was criticizing a
film that was never meant to be taken
seriously really the best use of their
anonymous pulpit?
Ben Beckett
LSA sophomore
MSA crosses line in

condemning MCRI
Tuesday night, the Michigan Stu-
dent Assembly passed a resolution to
essentially condemn the Michigan
Civil Rights Initiative (Proposal 2).
MSA has crossed the line between
attempting to influence state elections
and doing what is actually in students'
best interests. Is it appropriate for
MSA to take a side on this proposal
while the opinions of the students it


supposedly represents are split on the
issue? Would it be appropriate for MSA
to endorse a gubernatorial candidate?
Absolutely not. So what gives MSA the
right to do this?
This is the same MSA party that
dictated to students what they should
drink by supporting the Coke ban.
Tuesday night, MSA once again sat
on its high horse, attempting to dic-
tate to students how they should vote
while ridiculing and humiliatingthose
who spoke out against them. MSA's
attempts to influence state and nation-
al politics must stop at once.
There is a new party this election
that vows to take the political B.S. out
of MSA and focus solely on students'
needs: the Student Liberty Party. For
this reason, I urge you all to support
the SLP.
Dan Shuster
The letter writer is an MSA Rackham
representative and a member of the Student
Liberty Party
An apology to misled
opponents ofDHMO
I apologize to Daily readers and edi-

moment" for the students who have an
uninformed or biased view about black
students. But rather than encourage
self-reflection in such students, Cohen
prefers to work to bring about a situ-
ation in which black students would
almost disappear from campus.
According to scholar Maya Rock-
eymoore, a 2004 U.S. Department
of Education report states that "in
schools where at least 75 percent of
students are low income, there are
three times as manyuncertified or out-
of-field teachers teaching both Eng-
lish and science than in schools with
middle and high income students."
She further cites a 2005 Harvard Civil
Rights Project study of 11 states which
found that "schools serving the highest
percentage of minority students have
fewer teachers with full credentials,
twice as many teachers with emergen-
cy credentials and more inexperienced
teachers than schools serving the few-
est minorities."
Every honest person of any back-
ground knows that this is the reality
of American education. We all know
that the abstract and barren "equality"
between blacks and whites that Cohen
tediously asserts simply does not yet
exist. That's whyit is vital to all Michi-
ganders that Proposal 2 be soundly
rejected. We still have to work for fair-
ness for all.

missing when a friend of mine was
almost mugged and assaulted less
than a block from the Law School.
3. There is a special circle in Hell
for bad landlords. In college towns,
a good landlord is the exception, not
the rule. Most landlords are oppres-
sive profiteers who see no shame in
robbing students. And this isn't just
an Ann Arbor problem. Last spring I
read about the case of Central Michi-
gan University students Courtney
Hernandez and Kathryn Mahanic.
Hernandez was killed in a crash
with a drunken driver while Mah-
anic barely escaped with her life. At
the advice of her friends, family and
therapist, Mahanic moved out of
the apartment she shared with Her-
nandez, getting assurances from her
landlord that a new tenant would be
found. Six months later, her landlord
sued the still-grieving families to get
the unpaid rent.
4. Avoid the truly slimy landlords.
Student Legal Services should pro-
vide a list, based on the number of
lawsuits in which it represents stu-
dents against their landlords, of the
worst of the worst. The slimiest in
my experience was Jeffrey Gallatin of
Gallatin Realty. In order to maximize
profit, landlords like Gallatin will get
around the city ordinance that allows
only six non-related people to lease a
single unit by just keeping extra ten-
ants off of a lease. That's what Gall-
atin did to fit nine people into our
Keeping track of what part of the
unit is responsible for what utility
bill is always important, unless you
want to pay for something you aren't
renting. In our case, we ended up
paying for a basement that Gallatin
used exclusively while we were only
allowed use of the first two floors.

Finally, while security deposits
are legally - under state law - the
property of the tenant, in Ann Arbor
it's more like a communal fridge the
landlord can raid at will. Out of more
than $6,000 in our security deposit,
Gallatin initially returned less than
5. Student Legal Services isn't that
great. A relatively unknown rule is
that SLS cannot represent students
against each other. In theory, that's
a reasonable idea; in practice, it pro-
vides an excuse for SLS to bail when
the going gets tough. When we sued
Gallatin for our security depositback,
at first SLS was ecstatic about repre-
senting us. This enthusiasm turned to
disdain, and eventually SLS refused
to continue being our attorneys, forc-
ing us to settle. Coincidentally, this
was just several weeks before we
were to go to trial. In the end, Galla-
tin unfairly, but legally, kept well over
half of our security deposit.
6. Make sure your roommates are
up front with you. There are too few
statutes outlining landlord and ten-
ant rights, but there don't seem to
be any at all defining rights between
two tenants of the same property. If
a roommate does something objec-
tionable, there aren't a whole lot of
options to pursue. My current room-
mate has had his freshman girlfriend
stay over every single night, despite
my recent protests. Lindsay has a
room in Markley. That's where she
needs to stay.
These are six simple rules to sur-
viving the pit I like to call Ann Arbor.
You can heed them or you can ignore
them. The choice and its consequenc-
es are yours.
Jared Goldberg can be reached
at jaredgo@umich.edu.


tors who I misled into believing that
the dihydrogen monoxide survey I did John Woodford
was my original idea (Do you oppose Ann Arbor
DHMO?, 10/31/2006). Tom Regan is
correct (DHMO gag old news, on Inter-
net for years, 11/01/2006) - my survey Ifyou want
is merely a variation on an old joke,
and in writing my viewpoint, I failed 4.0, go to S
to properly cite my sources.
I'dliketothank Tom Way,the owner TO THE DAILY:
of www.dhmo.org, the website I drew I read Christine.
from heavily when putting together stepstowarda 4.0(1
my viewpoint. I'm sorry I didn't give like to add one she
him due credit in the article itself this University.

an easy
Beamer'sEight easy
10/30/2006), and I'd
missed: Don't go to


LSA senior




Cohen misrepresents 'U' Unions not better
state of education than this guy's mom
Carl Cohen is at it again (From pan- I would like everyone on campus to
elists, a few last words on Proposal 2, know that, contrary to what the adver-
11/02/2006). As in his past writings, tisements in the Daily may say, Univer-
he highlights the feelings of black stu- sity Unions are nowhere near as good
dents who he claims are humiliated by as my mom.
other students' views on affirmative
action. A philosophy teacher ought to AdamWilson
seize on such occasions as a "teaching Rackham

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