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March 29, 2010 - Image 4

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4A - Monday, March 29, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com i

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 of their authors.
Stimulate blight control
Efforts to revitalize Detroit need federal support



.. .


A s Detroit's problems continue to grow each year, the task
of finding solutions to those problems seems more and
more daunting - perhaps even impossible. There are no
easy solutions to these problems, but a new project to demolish
blighted property and rezone the city seems particularly promis-
ing. At his State of the City address on Tuesday, Detroit Mayor
Dave Bing announced a plan to demolish 3,000 of the city's dilap-
idated and abandoned buildings by the end of the year. The plan
would benefit Detroit's economy and solidify the city's communi-
ties, and it should be enacted with the full support of the city and
federal governments.

Constitutional conundrum


During his annual State of the City
address last week, Bing stated that the city
plans to demolish 10,000 buildings by 2014.
The current plan is being funded by federal
stimulus dollars. Additionally, the admin-
istration is scheduled to release a map on
Apr. 1 that will identify the addresses of
the buildings that will be demolished. Bing
has also met with President Barack Obama
in an effort to secure more money and to
bring him to Detroit to bring public atten-
tion to the city's problems.
Detroit's problems are varied - political
corruption, city debt and a school district
in crisis - and a new urban plan isn't going
to solve all of them. But it's obvious that
the city needs to get rid of the blight. Much
of Detroit's vacant land is city-owned and
these investments aren't seeing any return
for the city. With increasing unemploy-
ment, migration out of the city and a tight
budget, the city can't afford to continue to
fund vacant lots.
The plan would have a wealth of positive
effects for the city. Abandoned buildings
drive down property values of neighboring
land. Removal of these properties would
pave the way for redevelopment of unused
land, which would greatly benefit Detroit's
economy. And rezoning the city into dens-

er communities would allow the city to
distribute its funds more effectively.
So it's encouraging that the funding
for the demolition project has come from
the federal stimulus. Michigan has been
hit especially hard by the recession and
Detroit has seen the worst of the devasta-
tion - it's a prime candidate for stimulus
funds. Since the city's finances are already
a mess, the federal funds are essential
to getting the project underway. And if
the project is successful, hopefully it will
encourage further federal support in the
Detroit should be a top concern for the
federal government. A White House offi-
cial has indicated that Obama would like
to make a visit to Detroit, but that noth-
ing has yet been scheduled. If the presi-
dent visited and supported the demolition
plans, it could bring necessary awareness
to the city's condition. He should arrange a
trip to the city as soon as possible.
Removing the blight from Detroit could
be the first step in revitalizing the city by
redistributing city spending more wisely
and encouraging the growth of new busi-
nesses. The city should implement the plan
quickly and the federal government should
give Detroit the aid it needs.

Health care is kind of a touchy
subject these days.
Even as Democrats in Con-
gress lean at the
goal line, ready to
enact the bill that
has dominated,
all debate for the
better part of two '
years, Republi-
cans have still not
given up. Whilei
many Republi- "
can lawmakers IMRAN
have threatened to
repeal the legisla- SYED
tion - just as soon . _
as they take back
both houses in November - a more
interesting challenge has arisen in the
here and now.
As The New York Times reported
Saturday, the attorneys general of at
least 13 states have filed or joined suits
challenging in federal court the con-
stitutionality of Congress's health care
bill. It's nothing new for attorneys gen-
eral to file suit or intervene on behalf of
their states to challenge a federal law
when they deem such a challenge valid
and in the best interest of the people
of the state. But the situation can get
quite complicated when politics enter
the equation.
And that's exactly what we have
here in Michigan. Republican Attorney
General Mike Cox has joined the chal-
lenge of the health care bill in federal
court - over the vehement objections
of Democratic Gov. Jennifer Gran-
holm, who has in turn offered to join
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in
defendingthe bill against the challenge
by the states.
The standoff between the Repub-
lican attorney general and the Demo-
cratic governor is awkward to say the
least. However, both elected officers

apparently have the authority under
the Michigan Constitution of 1963 to
act as they have chosen. The attorney
general is the legal representative of
the executive branch, but the state con-
stitution does notsubject the actions of
that office to the governor's approval.
And the governor, as the chief execu-
tive of the state, is certainly not bound
by the actions of the attorney general.
As it stands, the resources of the
state of Michigan could flow to both
sides of the lawsuit. In fact, that is the
only solution if neither the attorney
general nor the governor backs down.
And what a wonderfully disastrous
waste of resources that would be for a
state that has teetered on the brink of
economic oblivion for the better part
of the decade.
Naturally, Cox's challenge is not
really about the law or the people
as much as it is about politics. Given
that the health care bill is all anyone
has talked about for the better part
of the past two years, fighting it is a
golden ticket for Cox, who is seeking
the Republican nomination for the
gubernatorial election later this year.
Challenging the evil Obama health
care bill in court is going to be quite
a notch on the belt in the Republican
primary - and polls show Cox will
need it.
It's true, as Cox's people have point-
ed out, that Granholm's stance is about
politics too, as she's a strong candi-
date for an appointment to the federal
bench or to Obama's cabinet. But this
is not nearly a fair comparison. While
both Cox and Granholm may have
political motivations, Cox's stance is
simply wrong - and his stubbornness
is therefore an inexcusable disservice
to Michigan.
The challenge Cox joined on behalf
of the people of this state alleges that
the president and Congress have over-

stepped their constitutional authori-
ties in passingthe health care bill. That
claim is very, very wrong. Cox - an
alumnus of the University's distin-
guished Law School - certainly knows
how wrong it is. He knows federal
courts have routinely approved Con-
gress's exercise of its Article I power
in situationsjust like this. The question
isn't really even open to debate any-
more. Even the current U.S. Supreme
Court would throw out this challenge
to Congress's authority as meritless -
with a vitriolic, wandering dissent by
Justice Clarence Thomas, of course.
Legal challenges to
health care reform
bill are absurd.
Regardless of whether you support
the health care bill, it's absurd to claim
that its passage constitutes an uncon-
stitutional act by Congress. There was
plenty of debate over the bill, and it
passed. If we, as citizens, hate the bill,
then we can elect new leaders who can
work to repeal it. However, there is
absolutely no ground for challenging
the bill in court. Cox knows this, but
he also knows Tea Party conservatives
love those who fight Obama, and they
know very little about such things as
Congress's Article I authority.
Ironically, in acting as he has, Cox
has proven himself unworthy of the
very trust he's askingthe people of this
state to put in him as he campaigns for
governor. At least we know that much.
-Imran Syed can be reached
at galad@umich.edu.


Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor.
Letters should be fewer than 300 words and must include the writer's full name
and University affiliation. Letters are edited for style, length, clarity and accuracy. All
submissions become property of the Daily. We do not print anonymous letters.
Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.
An imp-ortant hour

Filling in the gap

On Saturday, hundreds of millions of peo-
ple around the world made a bold statement
about climate change by doing something they
do every day: turning off their lights. Since
it began as a relatively small experiment in
Sydney, Australia, organized by the World
Wildlife Foundation, Earth Hour has evolved
into a massive worldwide event in which citi-
zens around the globe turn their attentions to
climate change for 60 minutes and demand
action from their leaders. Though the concept
of Earth Hour may seem strange - after all,
how much can turning off the lights in your
house for one hour really do for the environ-
ment? - those 60 minutes of darkness made a
significant impact on our planet.
Last year, Earth Hour produced dramatic
and direct results. In Chicago alone, Earth
Hour saved 100-megawatt hours of electricity,
according to the WWF. This reduction pre-
vented over 150,000 pounds of carbon dioxide
from being emitted into the atmosphere. With
similar results across the globe, imagine how
much energy was saved this year - and how
much less carbon dioxide was released into the
When national landmarks like the Empire
State Building, the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney
Opera House turn off their floodlights and high
beams, people notice. And although allowing
these landmarks to be dark for an hour saves
significant amounts of energy, something more
important is accomplished: people are remind-
ed of the gravity of the environmental issues
the world faces and become increasingly aware
of the potential for saving energy.
Earth Hour began three years ago when the
green movement was still on the fringe, strug-
gling for global attention, and climate change
was something most people had only heard
about in the context of former Vice President
Al Gore's Academy Award winning film, "An
Inconvenient Truth." Now, climate change has
become a hot button issue in Washington and is
one of the sole topics many people - regardless
of political affiliation - agree upon. Americans
are buying more efficient cars, turning down
their thermostats and doing their parts to com-
mit to more sustainable lifestyles. This is the
real benefit of Earth Hour. By asking everyone
to do something simple yet dramatic, Earth

Hour forces the public's attention to the envi-
ronment and reminds us to do our part and live
in a sustainable way.
As the world turns its attention to the envi-
ronment for one brief hour, politicians also
take notice. Earth Hour provides an accessible
outlet for the people to voice their opinions and
tell their leaders that climate change requires
immediate action. Those who participated Sat-
urday showed that people care about climate
change and demand an environmental policy
that addresses it. When close to one billion
people in over 4,000 cities worldwide make a
statement, it is difficult for political leaders to
ignore it.
This year, Earth Hour was particularly
important in America. As Americans, we can
determine whether or not the world will be able
to address climate change successfully. Now
that Congress has finished its work on health
care reform, it is time to act on climate change.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill
in June that would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas
emissions by 80 percent by 2050. It is time for
the U.S. Senate to take action on the issue as
well. Many concerned citizens hope that the
next issue the Obama administration will tackle
is climate change. The people who participated
in Earth Hour sent this message to Washington
loud and clear.
It is time for America to become a leader
in environmental action for our economy, our
security and our planet. We have the technol-
ogy and the inventive capacity to avert climate
catastrophe but are lacking in political will.
America has overcome many major chal-
lenges in the past; those who are skeptical of
our country's ability to tackle climate change
apparently doubt the strength, innovation
and resolve of our nation. Earth Hour allowed
Americans to remind Congress that global cli-
mate change is the single most important issue
facing our .world today and that the debate
should be how - not whether - to address it.
We hope that our senators and representatives
have heard our voices.
This viewpoint was written by Megan Spitz,
Rachel Slezak, Jace Morgenstein and Tom Witkin
on behalf of the environmental issues committee
of the University's chapter of College Democrats.

was walking home from the
Michigan baseball game at 5:45
p.m. last Friday when I saw the
line on the corner
of State and Pack- <
ard. After its esti-
mated opening date
had been pushed ,
back several times,
" Packard Pub was
finally set to open
at 6 p.m. that day.
And hundreds of
people, almost all COU N
male, had decided
that they needed to RATKOWIAK
be there when that
Intrigued, two of my friends and
I joined the line, which at that point
stretched all the way to Mary Street.
Once inside, we learned the Friday
drink specials weren't great and nei-
ther was the spinach-and-cheese dip.
But Ann Arbor has needed a bar on that
corner for a long time. And it's a smart
move for Packard Pub to fill that void -
with the next closest bar blocks away,
Packard Pub will probably develop a
base of loyal customers who live down
the street and don't want to walk to
Ashley's or Buffalo Wild Wings.
But even with the recent wave of
store openings in Ann Arbor, it feels
like nothing is unique anymore. South
University, whichused to have a pretty
eclectic mix of stores, is now overrun
with bubble tea and Asian cuisine. The
State Street area has seen an increase
in chain food stores (like Chipotle and
Panera) even when there are multiple
local restaurants in the city that serve
the same type of food (like Big Ten
Burrito and Amer's). It made me think
about what Ann Arbor really needs.
And naturally, being a business major,
I found myself conducting a mini,
impromptu focus group on what stu-
dents think is missing near campus:
The CVS Pharmacy that's been talked
aboutfor months. The idea of placing

a CVS smack in the middle of the State
Street historic district has long offend-
ed Ann Arbor traditionalists, who are
upset that the 209-211 State Street
building would need to be demolished
for the pharmacy to become a reality.
To make it worse, bringing another
national chain to State Street would
further diminish the charm and quirk-
iness of downtown Ann Arbor.
I understand all that, but the only
local pharmacy currently near cam-
pus consistently disappoints. I believe
in buying local, but I'll make the five-
minute drive to the CVS on South
Industrial St. instead of spending $10
on nail clippers at the Village Apoth-
ecary every time. The price gouging is
ridiculous. Students on a budget need
a place where they can buy sham-
poo or cosmetics without spending
as much as they would have on din-
ner. If a locally owned pharmacy can
lower its prices, it would fit with Ann
Arbor's image much more than a CVS.
But since the Village Apothecary has
already proved it can't do that, it's
time for CVS to step in.
A 24-hour diner in the South Uni-
versity area. With New York Pizza
Depot and Mitch's gone, the corner of
South Forest and South University is
now depressingly dark at night. And
when the bars close, the only late-night
options on the South U. bar strip are
burritos or pizza. What better business
to put in Mitch's old spotthan a diner?
The only 24-hour greasy spoon
within walking distance is Fleet-
wood Diner - "walking distance" is
a stretch, I know - and it's on Ash-
ley Street. Mr. Greek's on State Street
closes at 9:30 p.m. on weekend nights.
A New Jersey-style diner on South
University would be a perfect place
for students to grab a cheese omelet
and hash browns on the way to9 a.m.
class, whenever they feel like having
breakfast for dinner, or after a long
night at the UGLi or Rick's.
A party supplies store. While throw-

ing my roommate a surprise 21st birth-
day party lastyear, her sister andI tried
to make the decorations as over-the-
top as possible. But it wasn't fun driv-
ing all the way home from Meijer with
21 pink and green balloons impairing
my vision. And even though we would
have looked silly walking through
campus while holding bunches of bal-
loons, we wished we had that option.
I'm so sick of
Village Apothecary
ripping me off.
And I can't count the number of
times that I or one of my friends have
needed just one more piece to complete
a costume for a theme party - like a
cowboy hatorHavaiianlei -but didn't
know where in Ann Arbor to find it. A
party store within walking distance of
campus would be extremely popular
during fall and winter Welcome Week,
Halloween, ugly sweater holiday sea-
son and St. Patrick's Day. And consid-
ering Ann Arbor's popular Greek and
house party scene, I'd be willing to bet
the store would be busy almost every
weekend. It's true that a party store
downtown isn't a necessity, but it'd be
a smart venture for someone lookingto
make money on a college campus.
In nearly all of my marketingclasses
here at the University, my professors
have taught that an integral step in
determining opportunities for growth
and gaps in the current market is lis-
tening to consumers' needs. Here's
what we want. Now, Ann Arbor, won't
you listen?
- Courtney Ratkowiak was the Daily's
managing editor in 2009. She can be
reached at cratkowi(Dumich edu

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