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November 02, 2009 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2009-11-02

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4A - Monday, November 2, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109






Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
Vote Elhady, Briere
City Council needs student voice, enthusiasm, experience
T here's an opinion held by many residents of Ann Arbor -
and some members of City Council - regarding University
students: We don't care about city elections. This opinion H
strongly manifested itself during this summer's Democratic pri-
he University's Kelsey Muse-
mary campaign when Ward 3 Democratic incumbent Leigh Greden um of Archeology was the
predicted that less than a dozen students would vote. In response, site of a ribbon-cutting cer-
emonyvSunday to
a much larger number of students than Greden had anticipated commemorate the
museum's recently
headed to the polls and handed victory to opponent Stephen Kun- completed expan-
selman, who won by just six votes. This showed that students do sion. According to 4
AnnArbor.com, 7
care about Ann Arbor city government and that they can make a the expansion was s
funded by an $8.5
substantial difference in the outcome of its elections. million donation -
from the late Edwin IMRAN
and Mary Meader,
Tomorrow. students will have nn nnnr- trieti l ti I i l SYED



wirding history

1V1V1W , U1l Wl lVCtl pp~
tunity to make an even stronger mark on
Ann Arbor government by voting in the
general election for City Council. Though
Ann Arbor's perceived hostility to Repub-
licans has made the general elections rela-
tively uneventful in recent years, this year
sees two independents making strong bids
for City Council seats. Issues surrounding
the race include the debate over what to
do about Argo Dam and the Stadium Bou-
levard bridge - structures that many feel
are in need of repairs - and a scandal that
occurred over the summer when several
City Council members were discovered to
be sendingemails during meetings, possibly
in violation of the law.
As vital members of the community with
unique ideas for what the city should look
like, students have an obligation to silence
claims that we don't care. So head to the
polls tomorrow, and as you do, keep the fol-
lowing information in mind.
In the Ward 4 race, Democratic incum-
bent Marcia Higgins faces a challenge from
University economics student Hatim Elhady.
Higgins is seeking reelection so that she can
continue her work on Ann Arbor Discover-
ing Downtown (A2D2), a plan to streamline
the city's zoning laws. She also believes that
her experience will come in handy as City
Council approaches tough budgetary deci-
sions. Elhady, on the other hand, believes
that projects like the Stadium Boulevard
bridge need immediate attention from City
Council and wants to get to work addressing
concerns of Fourth Ward residents.
Both Higgins and Elhady are, in their
own ways, appealing candidates. Higgins
expressed an enthusiasm for density in Ann
Arbor and opposes height caps. Though this
thinking may put her at odds with many
residents and other members of City Coun-
cil, it's meaningful to students, whose need
for affordable housing would be benefited by
her independent, progressive approach. But
Higgins just can't match the unique experi-
ence that Elhady can bring as a University
As a student, Elhady understands that

r es rC Ive election laws negativey impc
students' abilities to participate in city gov-
ernment. As an acknowledgement of this,
he wants the primary election moved back
to April, when students are still around.
He also wants to prioritize the elimination
of apathy among students and residents by
truly staying in touch with his constituents.
To this end; he plans to write newsletters
and hold regularly scheduled meetings with
constituents. Elhady is eager to interact
with the people of Ann Arbor and listen to
their concerns. While not a perfect candi-
date - he could stand to gain by adopting
some of Higgins's thinking on density and
zoning - the opportunity to put a student
who is knowledgeable and passionate on
City Council can't be passed up. The Daily
In the Ward 1 race, Democratic incumbent
Sabra Briere is being challenged by indepen-
dent Mitchell Ozog, a native of Poland who
fled the country in the 1980s. Briere said the
budget will be one of the most important
issues before City Council next term, and
that she possesses in depth knowledge on
the issues that comes with experience. Ozog
was not available for an interview with the
Daily, but his website cites fiscal responsibil-
ity and transparency as the most important
considerations for choosing City Council
Ozog's background makes him an inter-
esting candidate - he was actively involved
in the Solidarity movement against com-
munism during the Polish Revolution in the
1980s. He is also enthusiastic about bring-
ing a fresh perspective to City Council. But
ultimately, Briere's experience and ability to
relate to the concerns of both residents and
students outweighs Ozog's fresh perspec-
tive. Briere has a long history of involvement
with Ann Arbor political life. While her
housing priorities don't always match those
of students, she believes in hearing all sides
of the debate and reachingcompromises that
will please students, residents, landlords
and developers. The Daily endorses SABRA

andt the National
Endowment for
Humanities also
gave $200,000.
The expansion was much needed,
given that the museum was originally
built nearly 120 years ago and had just
1,000 square feet of gallery space -
enough to squeeze in only about 300
artifacts. The new 20,000-square-
foot addition to the museum will have
about 1,500 artifacts on public display.
Most of these artifacts are ancient
treasures either excavated by Univer-
sity archeologists in the early 1900s
or acquired indirectly through deal-
ers and donors. The museum's website
gives details on just about every one of
the University led major excavations,
which have resulted in a collection of
more than 100,000 artifacts. But even
with the expansion, the museum will
be able to display only about 1.5 per-
cent of its massive collection. The rest
will remain in locked storage.
I'm startled by that reality, but per-
haps I shouldn't be: It's nothingnew in
our society for wealth to be dubiously,
concentrated among the elite few. The
Kelsey Museum is just one of hun-
dreds of museums across the world
that hoard priceless cultural artifacts
in storage. These treasures deserve to
be displayed, butget displacedbecause
they are redundant or conventionally
uninteresting to the museum.
The University might have the
right to hold these surplus artifacts
in closed storage. After all, it was the

efforts of University archeologists
that unearthed the objects in the first
place. And academic institutions also
have ancient artifacts for research
purposes. You never know when any
one of those 100,000 pieces may be
needed by researchers in a hurry, and
it's good to have them all on hand.
I don't necessarily disagree with
any of those arguments. Rather, I sim-
ply want to point out and encourage
consideration of the opposing argu-
Most of the major excavations that
brought those artifacts to Ann Arbor
happened before the modernization of
antiquity laws across the world. That
was a time when archeologists could.
walk into a foreign country and leave
with extracted artifacts without any
violation of law. Egypt - with lead-
ers who were concerned more about
appeasing the West than about pro-
tecting their own - was famous for
actually giving away artifacts.
During that golden age, University
archeologists made significant finds
in places like Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt
and Iraq. Expeditions to Karanis,
Egypt proved especially fruitful -
the museum's website indicates that
almost 45,000 Karanis objects arrived
in Ann Arbor between 1926 and 1936.
Another 13,000 objects were brought
over from another particularly fruit-
ful site, Seleucia-on-the-Tigris (now
in Iraq).
But as that age passed, society
began to realize that nations, no mat-
ter how primitive their democracies,
had somie right of ownership over-
objects extracted from their soil. After
that, institutions had to be more care-
ful and acquire artifacts only from
reputable dealers.
Restrictions and attitudes have
evolved further. While they could once
plead ignorance, institutions today
bear some responsibility for actually
investigating the history of the works
they acquire to make sure they were
not smuggled or stolen.
There's no reason to assume that

the University has ever broken the
rules. On the contrary, its researchers
have generally done a great benefit to
society by unearthing and investigat-
ing artifacts that tell tales of lost civi-
lizations. But there's a little more it
could do.
Instead of holding precious cultural
artifacts in storage, why not circu-
late them among museums in areas
of the world that are not so saturated
with priceless, displayable artifacts?
Or better yet, why not conditionally
return these artifacts to the countries
from which they were taken? I think
it's a safe assumption that many of
the 100,000 artifacts in storage will
never be needed by a researcher. But
if one ever is, the University will know
exactly where it is and will have an
agreement in place to get it back.
Should museums
give artifacts back
to original owners?
Some might argue that the artifacts
should not go back because places like
Iraq and Egypt cannot be trusted to
secure them. How ironic that such a
patronizing defense is used to protect
possessions acquired in the time of
blinded colonialist advances, which
left these nations compromised in the
first place.
I certainly don't advocate returning
artifacts to war-torn, unstable coun-
tries. At its discretion, the University
would be welcome to withhold those
pieces itelieves might be damaged or
lost if returned. I argue only that some
effort be made to recognize that peo-
ple once took what wasn't theirs, and
the fact that it was then legal does not
make the action right.
- Imran Syed can be reached
at galad@umich.edu.


Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Ben Caleca, Michelle DeWitt,
Brian Flaherty, Emma Jeszke, Raghu Kainkaryam, Sutha K Kanagasingam, Erika Mayer,
Edward McPhee, Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith



Millage too costly: Vote no

Education at stake:,Vote yes

Two mills is too much for all but the most fortu-
nate in our community. I urge you to vote "No" on
the millage proposal, but more important than how
you vote is how you make the decision regarding
this millage and future decisions in your personal
and professional life.
In Malcolm Gladwell's new book, "What the Dog
Saw," he describes how Cornell MBA students ana-
lyzed the financial statements of Enron Corpora-
tion for a class project. They concluded that Enron
stock was overvalued and recommended that stock-
holders sell. The price of Enron stock continued to
increase and eventually doubled until... well, you
know the rest of that story. Would history be differ-
ent if investigative reporters from The Wall Street
Journal or The New York Times had done the anal-
ysis and published the results?
Similarly, I have attempted to do an analysis of
the Ann Arbor Public Schools financial statements.
And of course, my MBA is from the University, not
Cornell. This analysis is posted on the Citizens
for Responsible School Spending website at www.
The most salient points include the following:
First, threats from Lansing to drastically cut
school funding are just that - threats. 'Threats have
been made in the past. School funding is a top prior-

ity and when the political games end, funding will
likely be restored to a fair level.
Second, the proposal would result in an 11.4
percent increase in local school taxes. Residents
already pay 17.52 mills.-And commercial property
owners, including farmers, already pay this plus an
additional 18 mills in school taxes. And Ann Arbor
Public Schools already receive over $12,000 per
pupil per year in local, state, federal and private
Finally, AAPS operating expenses have risen at
over twice the rate of inflation since 2002. This
growth is simply not sustainable.
Some very intelligent, politically savvy people
have been hoodwinked by the lack of transparency
in school financial reporting and the limited, mis-
leading information being passionately presented
by children's teachers and other school officials.
They are unaware that special interests and the
Michigan Education Association have spun this
campaign message into one of deception, urgency
and emotional fear. I urge you to make an informed
decision based on facts, not fear, and vote "No" on
the millage proposal.
Kathy Griswold is a member of Citizens
for Responsible School Spending.

Tomorrow, Washtenaw County is holding a vote
for a millage that could change students' lives. Gov.
Jennifer Granholm recently initiated a series of dev-
astating retroactive cuts to public education through-
out the state. With your support - a yes vote - the
millage will ensure thatquality K-12 public education
will carry on while our state legislature reorganizes
itself in the 21st century. This money will help cover
a portion of promised funds to Washtenaw County's
schools - promised funds they are no longer getting
due to severe shortfalls. The governor already cut
$297 per pupil this year, with projected cuts of anoth-
er $600 per pupil next year. This does not include an
additional line item cut that affectsAnn Arbor Public
Schools directly.
I am in the unique position of seeing Washtenaw
County education from multiple angles. I had many
opportunities in music and sports during my K-12
Ann Arbor Public School days. I attended the Univer-
sity of Michigan, where I pursued a bachelor's degree
and a master's degree in the sciences and education.
My wife and I call Ann Arbor home: I teach biology
at the high school level in Saline and have young chil-
dren in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. It worries me
that my children won't have the same educational
opportunities I did if the millage doesn't pass.
There are many opponents to the Washtenaw
County Enhancement Millage who argue that the
"system is broken" and "irresponsible spending" on
the part of local schools is to blame. They will argue
that a yes vote is a vote for the millage - nothingshort,
in their eyes, of a bailout for a failed system.
I agree the system failed. However, the irrespon-
sibility doesn't lie with local districts - it lies with
a deeply flawed state tax structure that was once
intended to support Michigan's public schoolsbut has
had problems since 1994. Approving this millage will

enable us to continue to provide a quality education
for our students while allowingthem to participate in
elective classes like technology, the arts, sports and
career exploration.
In tough times, investments for the future provide
the greatest dividends. Historically, families move to
the villages, towns and cities of Washtenaw County
because of the excellent schools. The commitment
of the students, school employees, parents and com-
munity is an incredible formulathat works for all par-
ties involved. The reputation of excellence made our
communities desirable places to live and put our real
estate in high demand. Changing this formula and
underfunding our schools puts our children, school
employees, communities and home values atrisk.
One generation of studentsshould not be penalized
with massive teacher layoffs, large class sizes and the
elimination of curricula while adults fix the system.
A basic comparison comes into play here with green
energy. Ittakes time to fix our global dependence on
fossil fuels. For example, a household transitioning to
green energy here in Ann Arbor still needs heat and
hot water. Likewise, as Lansing finds itself a new tax
structure, we as a county still need to educate our
local students with integrity.
In other words,.we can't throw the baby out with
the bath water. The state as a whole is in crisis, but is it
the right choice to cripple local public education?
Voting yes on the Washtenaw County Enhance-
ment Millage is essential. It will not only maintain
integrity in continued quality instruction but will
also keep and generate jobs in the greater Ann Arbor
area. I chose to stay local and givebackto the commu-
nity thatserved me growing up. As aUniversity alum,
I ask for your support tomorrow.
Drew Denzin is a University alum.


The millage would raise $30 million for Washtenaw County
schools by increasing property taxes.
Two sides weigh in on how you should vote.


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