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September 29, 2011 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-09-29

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4A - Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A - Thursday, September 29, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

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.
Problematic panhandling
City officials must help alleviate safety concerns
In the wake of a worrying series of crime alerts the past few
months, students returned to campus this fall with a differ-
ent mindset than in years past. The comfortable atmosphere
in Ann Arbor has been compromised as a result of an increase in
reported sexual assaults - one occurring in the Liberty Street park-
ing structure near many downtown businesses - and noticeably
aggressive panhandling. These changes to the character of down-
town Ann Arbor have many local business owners concerned, and
they fear that safety concerns throughout the Ann Arbor area are
driving away business. The city needs to allocate funds to address
the problem of Ann Arbor safety concerns and support local busi-
nesses and residents.
According to a Daily article from July 31, ans, it shouldn't be the department's sole pri-
amendments dealing with panhandling in Ann ority. Police should be patrolling downtown
Arbor have been ineffective. A Sept. 25 AnnAr- Ann Arbor and enforcing panhandling policies
bor.com article details how this problem has in order to protect businesses and encourage
only gotten worse in the eyes of those who commerce. It's contradictory that resources
frequent the downtown area. Business owners are allocated to revenue-earning endeavors
say aggressive panhandling is driving costum- when there is a clear need for on-the-ground
ers away from their stores. Some shoppers and police presence throughout the city.
employees don't feel safe, especially at night. However, city officials should work with
Housing in the Liberty Street area is some of social service institutions to ensure enforce-
the most expensive in downtown, and business ment isn't simply a war on people facing dire
owners say the concentration of panhandlers poverty. The Ann Arbor City Council should
on the street, along with other crime-related focus on social services to fight homelessness
factors, is hurting their businesses - poten- and help get people off the street. The task
tially leading some of them to close their doors. force was originally intended to be an out-
Last year, a city task force attempted to reach program, and it shouldn't focus solely on
address this issue. Panhandling became pro- enforcement. Resources should be in place to
hibited in more areas, including public buses, help, rather than punish, homeless people.
areas near parking garages and within 12 feet In addition to the necessary increased
of Nichols Arcade. The task force called for police activity, individuals need to educate
stricter enforcement by police. Unfortunately, themselves on how to stay safe. Students and
with the police force already spread thin as a consumers should travel in groups, especially
result of budget cuts, removing panhandlers at night. Businesses should also continue to
from prohibited areas isn't a top priority for report incidents so that the' city takes this
law enforcement in the city. matter seriously.
Instead, the Ann Arbor Police Department We must not be naive in thinking Ann
recently decided to crack down on motor- Arbor is recession-proof and idyllic. Residents
ists who.fail to stop for pedestrians by fining should encourage city officials to curb actions
them up to $100 for an offense. While this is it has already deemed illegal to keep the city
important for the safety of campus pedestri- thriving.
Streaming success story

K. An lie roofe. on
,- K~onleeees {r re)
Relapse or recovery?
J n the cover art for his album days, Republicans are mopping up "I'm going to propose ways to
"Recovery," Eminem sits on a the unions' remnants, fiscal inequal- put America back to work," Obama
couch in the middle of Detroit's ity in the United States is at record announced, "that both parties can
Hart Plaza, placidly reading as levels and many Democrats are still agree to."
the towers of working out whether they want to do Groans rose from the audience. A
GM's Renais- anything about it. woman standing next to me in the
sance Center Despite all that and the worst crowd turned and said, "Here we go
loom behind economic crisis since the Great again."
him. It turns out Depression, Obama did have some- The speech carried on, and "Four
Detroit's break- thing to celebrate on this occa- more years!" came back, but there
through white sion. Thanks to the U.S. bailout, you had it. The people who had been
rapper isn't the the American automobile industry Obama's champions no longer trust-
only embattled hasn't crumbled to the ground. ed that he'd be theirs.
dude with a taste JOEL This was the victory that the Ren-
for symbolism BATTERAN Cen setting aimed to recall, despite
involving this the fact that the RenCen is not an
giant plate-glass auto plant, as The Washington Post Obama needs to
castle. This Labor Day, I watched reported, but an office, hotel and
as the RenCen played backdrop for shopping complex. The crowd of 'break the first-
another jumper of racial lines,Presi- mostly union members assembled
dent Barack Obama, who kicked off for Obama's speech interjected term slum p.
his election counteroffensive after "Four more years!" more than once.
a rough year in Washington and Yet the enthusiasm seemed tem-
around the nation. pered by a nagging sense that in the
The event should have been a struggle to rebuild the U.S. econ- Turns out Eminem originally
kind of homecoming. Detroit gave omy Obama had won a few battles planned to release an album titled
birth to the modern American labor but might be losing the war and the "Relapse 2" ("Re-Relapse"? "Three-
movement, which in turn shaped sense that the fight might just be lapse"?), instead of "Recovery."
the 20th-century Democratic Party. going out of the guy. Then he changed his mind. It's not
Former Presidents Harry Tru- Teamsters president James P. so clear whether we can count on
man, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Hoffa practically begged for some Obama to overcome his own lapses,
Johnson launched their presiden- action. "The one thingabout working even if he wins another term. That
tial drives in Detroit. Think about people is we like a good fight," Hoffa doesn't mean giving up on him, but
that. Each Democratic president in told the crowd. He himself is facing a it does mean looking beyond the
the 20 years that marked the high- challenge from Teamsters - a one of moment to the long run and building
water mark of American liberalism the largest labor unions in the world new movements, which show that
and the decades that witnessed the - who say he's in love with manage- people matter more than money. On
biggest middle class in human his- ment, so he didn't stop there trying my way to the rally, I passed a house
tory, the civil rights movement and to cover his flanks with the martial on Detroit's Clairmount Street with
manned space travel, all started in rhetoric. "President Obama, this is thistles rising high in the front yard
Detroit. your army." and a faded "HOPE" poster in a win-
That era didn't last, of course. But the commander in chief dow. We've been sticking with a los-
Black freedom didn't sit well with a wasn't biting. After walking onstage ing game for a long time now. And as
lot of whites in the North and South, and going down the list ofhis accom- one of the unionists who spoke that
leading them away from the Demo- plishments - health care, auto bail- day said, sometimes hanging on ain't
crats, who also proved too willing out, middle-class tax cuts - Obama enough.
to acquiesce as the economy was launched into the plan of action
re-engineered to benefit the rich that ought to have rallied the troops -Joel Batterman can be
at everyone else's expense. These around his standard. reached at jomba@mich.edu.
Aida Ali, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer, Patrick Maillet,
Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley,
Teddy Papes, Timothy Rabb, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
The beginning of a green era






I can't remember what my life was like
before I had my driver's license. The ineffi-
ciencies of "Michael's mom can drive us there
if we see the 8 o'clock, but my dad can't come
get us until 11..." astound me. Why didn't I just
get in the car and start driving? It's not that
hard. Gas on the left, brakes on the right, fun
all around!
In the same vein, I have no recollection of
my life before Netflix revolutionized it. No,
my memory loss wasn't caused by my exces-
sive methamphetamine usage (though that
does explain my teeth falling out). I must
have blocked the memories of having to get up
and change out the "Golden Girls" disc in the
DVD player for the next one. All that physical
movement - what were we thinking?
It should come as no surprise that we live in
an increasingly digital world. Physical books
are being replaced with e-readers. Money is
no longer paper currency, it's numbers on a
computer screen. Our e-mail inboxes are by
far more useful than our physical mailboxes.
And though Netflix started as a DVD-by-mail
service, its online streaming capabilities have
clearly become the main draw for consum-
ers. With hundreds of thousands of titles to
peruse and watch instantly, DVDs or Blu-ray
discs are simply unnecessary.
Netflix pioneered online streaming and
remains the clear leader in the market. Its
profits continue to rise as competitors dwin-
dle. According to some estimates, 20 percent
of peak-hours Internet traffic is Netflix users.
Still, recent controversial business decisions
leave room for speculation if Netflix can
retain its crown.
Netflix stock reached an impressive $300
in July. Then, in a surprise announcement,
monthly subscription prices were significant-
lyraised. The movegarnered noticeable media
attention, along with Starz and Sony drop-
ping content from Netflix's streaming library.
Perhaps as a result of the hype surroundingit,
rather than the price change itself, Netflix's
stock price plummeted - currently valued at
$127 - and approximately 1 million out of 25

million customers canceled their subscrip-
tions. The mass exodus of customers and dra-
matic stock price drop prompted Netflix CEO
Reed Hastings to apologize to consumers. An
apology, but no price reduction.
Last week, in a substantially less publi-
cized move, Netflix announced in a short post
in their blog that the company would be split
in two. Netflix will continue operating as an
online streaming service, and the DVD-by-
mail service will spin off into a new company:
Qwikster. So, if you want to continue getting
movies in the mail and streaming online, you
now have to deal with two websites, twq com-
panies and two prices. Customers were upset,
and stock prices continued to drop. Despite
the obvious backlash against the two-compa-
ny confusion, it's obvious why Netflix made
this decision.
DVDs, Blu-rays and any physical media are
going by the wayside. They're not gone yet,
but looking at the music industry as an exam-
ple, it's easy to see a not-too-distant future
when all of our media is web-based. Netflix
knows this. It knows that the DVD side of its
business isn't viable in the long run. And with
the rapidly changing technology market, "the
long run" could be less than three years away.
Hastings and Co. didn't want the shrinking
DVD market to kill their streaming empire by
bringing the whole company down.
The stock price drop and customer loss
were a large price to pay, but they probably
saved the business. With an innocuous name
like Qwikster, Hastings seemed to be prepar-
ing for the inevitable failure of the spin-off
brand. When the DVD market dies for good
in three, five, or even 10 years, Netflix can
quietly kill Qwikster without dramatically
upsetting Netflix investors.
Despite ups and downs, it appears Netflix
has the brains to evolve with the market. And
thank goodness, because a life without Netf-
lix hardly seems worth living.
Andrew Weiner is a senior editorial
page editor. He is an LSA sophomore.

For those who attended University President Mary
Sue Coleman's sustainability speech on Tuesday,
many things were made clear. For one, I was finally
convinced of her existence, and the audience was con-
vinced of the University's strong and growing commit-
ment to sustainability.
"Sustainability" gets thrown around quite a bit,
especially in an eco-conscious town like Ann Arbor;
its overuse often leads to a softening of its meaning.
However, Coleman made it abundantly clear to all
those in attendance that sustainability isn't a mere
buzz word but a deep, underlying theme that's to guide
this University into the future. "I want this message to
be clear," Coleman asserted, "Sustainability drives the
University of Michigan. Combine maize and blue, and
you get green."
The goals the University has set are commendable,
highly attainable and are large enough in scope to
truly make an impact. Among the goals Coleman enu-
merated were a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse
gas emissions, a 40 percent reduction of waste sent to
landfills, the use of 40 percent fewer chemicals to treat
grass and trees around campus and the transformation
of the University bus fleet to hybrid vehicles.
All these changes are scheduled to be fully imple-
mented by 2025, and judging by Coleman's Hoke-like
resolve and steel-like gaze, I have no doubt she meant
every single word she said.
However, the eventual success or failure of these
ambitious plans lies not in firmly pressed pantsuits or
paraphrasing ubiquitous Hoke-isms but squarely in the
laps of all Michigan students, regardless of year or con-
centration. In order for sustainability to truly take hold
at the University, it must become a part of campus life,
not just a message preached to us by the administra-
tion. As current students, we all have a deep obligation
to begin to alter the way the student body thinks and

acts in relation to the natural world. Just like Denard
Robinson's dreads are the source of his speed, the stu-
dent body is the source of the University's vitality. Col-
lectively, we have the power to take the University in
any direction we choose. All we need to do is "plant
(the) seeds of ideas" and "forge new trails."
The continued development and expansionof student
groups committed to various areas of campus and global ,
sustainability is a sign that students are beginning to
realize their enormous potential to bring about change
on campus and in the community we love. In addition
to the numerous student organizations' that already
exist, Coleman announced the formation of a $50,000
annual "Planet Blue student fund," which will be used
to support the best and most innovative student-devel-
oped campus sustainability ideas. We not only have the
dreams and the plans, but we now have the money to
make it happen. Anyone who thinks they don't have
ample opportunities to become involved with sustain-
ability on this campus and to truly make a difference is
as blind as the Ohio State NCAA compliance office.
It's imperative that students seek out the opportu-
nities that exist all around them. Even the smallest
change for good, when done on a scale as large as the
University of Michigan, has enormous potential to
bring about real, tangible results. So, fellow students,
I implore you all to seriously consider your everyday
actions and reflect on the ramifications these actions
have on the local and global environment. We sit here
today with the tremendous opportunity to direct our
University in a direction few, if any, other universities
across the country, or across the globe for that matter,
can achieve. We have a duty to ourselves, to future gen-
erations, and as Wolverines, to seize this opportunity
and bring our University into a new era.
David Schwartz is an LSA junior.

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