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August 06, 1997 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1997-08-06

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, August 6, 1997
P Edited and rmanaged by
td n and m aed bERIN MARSH JACK SCHILLACI
students at the f + Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
University of Michigan ,
4n ei oUnless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion
420 Maynard Street majority of the Dailys editorial board. All other articles, letten a
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 cartoons do not necessari 'refiLet the opinion of The Michigan Dail

M anagement and labor disputes are
common in the business world.
However, repeated conflicts often signify
poor management. Recently, resistance
sprung up as a result of the University Board
of Regents' proposal to impose greater fees
on employees that are not are not covered by
M-Care, the University's health manage-
ment organization. The regents passed the
overall Medical Center budget at their July
meeting. However, University President Lee
Bollinger advocated delaying judgment on
the plan to encourage M-Care's use. The
University Faculty Senate Executive
Committee concurred that the issue
deserved more discussion and input from
the University community - setting the
final decision back to an Aug. 6 telephone-
conference regents meeting.
The proposal calls for University
employees to sacrifice in order to raise some
$4 million projected in the Medical Center's
$912 million budget. For instance, employ-
ees who do not presently pay monthly fees
under Care Choices, for instance, would be

oes M' care? s
'U' should foster strong labor relations

expected to pay an additional $34.85 a
month for one person or $60 per month for
two people under M-Care. Downsizing the
Medical Center's budget may be necessary,
but University employees must remain
important to administrators. Slowing the
downsizing rate would give staffers more
breathing room and would prevent them
from getting the short end of the stick.
In its negotiations with the Association
of Federal, State, County and Municipal
Employees Local 1538 (AFSCME), the
University offered unbalanced and unfair
compensation packages. For example,
administrators offered the union a contract
that would grant hospital workers fewer
benefits than their counterparts on the rest
of campus. Essentially, administrators are
playing a balancing act - trading one thing

for another to produce the appearance of
good intentions.
Compromising the benefits once
offered to hospital employees in order to
maintain the original University contract is
an underhanded attempt to divide the
employees' union and divert the heat of the
spotlight on its own internal friction. The
administration has been so preoccupied
with a budget that it may disregard the
trusting relationship with its employees.
The University should stop blundering its
efforts in developing such complex
schemes to avoid a fair and final negotia-
tion - instead, it should prevent itself
from alienating its employees and dividing
the unions that represent them.
It is always difficult for workers to
accept any policy that is an abridgment of

their freedom of choice. There is stron
resistance among University employee
despite the fact that a significant majorit
of them are already under the M-Care plaj
and would be unaffected. The administr
tion's main oversight is that it ass
absolute authority in developing the
get without input from the staffers that wi
be affected. Without having a voice in th
matter, employees will naturally be suspi
cious and skeptical of administrativ
actions.
Bollinger took the right avenue i
reaching out to employees. The mere act o
establishing an e-mail conference, fo
example, can promote a better understand
ing between management and staff. Thei
relationship is co-dependent and cac
endure the absence of either half. If ai
open forum can be achieved where idea
may be heard, a higher respect and recog
nition between the administration ani
employees can be attained. Then worker
could finally secure the fair compensatioi
package that they deserve.

Split decision
Jury contaminated in Budzyn conviction

Starting as soon their trials for the beat-
ing death of Malice Green ended, for-
mer Detroit police officers Walter Budzyn
and Larry Nevers fought their convictions
of second-degree murder. Appealing on
grounds that jurors were unduly influ-
enced by extraneous and prejudicial fac-
tors, the former officers took their cases
before the Michigan Supreme Court. Last
Thursday, the court issued a stunning split
decision on their appeal - Nevers was
ordered to serve out the remainder of his
sentence while Budzyn's conviction was
overturned.
The decision met with criticism and
derision from both sides of the issue. Most
observers expected an all-or-nothing deci-
sion. Accordingly, it is tempting at first
glance to agree with critics charging the
Supreme Court of delivering the ultimate
political compromise - salvaging
Budzyn to satisfy the officers' supporters,
while sacrificing Nevers to assuage
Malice Green's bereaved family and
friends. But a closer reading of the
Supreme Court's decision reveals careful
consideration, taking into account both the
circumstances of Green's death, its after-
math and the legal precedents involved in
the case.
The Supreme Court agreed with the ex-
officers' contentions that their juries were
exposed to highly prejudicial factors dur-
ing the trials. The court's ruling hinged on
the question of whether the influences, in
light of other evidence, could have swayed
the separate juries' decisions. To be sure,
the external factors were highly contami-
nating. During a break in the trial, the jury
watched the film "Malcolm X," which
begins by repeatedly showing the infa-
mous Rodney King beating. They also

learned of the city's preparations for possi-
ble rioting like the violence seen in Los
Angeles after King's persecutors were
acquitted. Furthermore, the juries were
incorrectly told that Budzyn was a mem-
ber of STRESS (Stop The Robberies,
Enjoy Safe Streets), a police unit charged
with abusing and terrorizing blacks during
the 1970s.
The court decided that the practical
effect of these factors differed in the spe-
cific cases of the two officers. In Nevers'
case, the jury heard the officer admit to
hitting Green with a heavy metal flash-
light. Emergency medical personnel testi-
fied that Nevers repeatedly struck Green
on the head. The court ruled that there
was ample evidence that Nevers indeed
committed murder, to the point that no
outside influence affected the jury's deci-
sion. However, the court found that the
evidence against Budzyn lacked the same
overwhelming quality. He denied ever hit-
ting Green on the head, and eyewitnesses
could not swear to seeing him do so.
Under the circumstances, inaccurate
information combined with scare tactics
could well have swayed the jury toward
conviction.
The evidence of Nevers' actions was
egregious and indisputable - his convic-
tion should stand. Walter Budzyn, on the
other hand, may not have directly con-
tributed to Green's death. If not guilty of
second-degree murder, he may be partial-
ly responsible for Green's death. However,
a conviction by a biased jury cheapens the
verdict. Prosecutors must take the oppor-
tunity granted by the mistrial declaration
and pursue 'legal action against Budzyn
until an impartial jury can hear his case
and decide his fate.

Balancing act
Budget could threaten social programs
Tn a rare show of bipartisan cama- be unable to help quell the need caused b
jIraderie, the U.S. Congress passed a bill an economic disaster.
last week that mandates a balanced feder- The bill calls for an additional $14
al budget by 2002. Republican party billion dollars in spending cuts over the
leaders, in cahoots with President next five years but does not specify where
Clinton, managed to achieve the fiscal Congress should make the cuts. Congress
gemstone that until recently remained on could have to decrease federal spenig
the pile of unfulfilled campaign promis- on the Veterans' Administration or ohe
es. While a balanced budget would help important social programs - a dangerous
keep the soaring national debt down, it prospect that could limit citizens' access
could tie the U.S. government's hands in to vital services. In addition, federal edu-
times of economic need. Vital social pro- cation funding could find its coffers
grams could find their budgets on the drained - putting public schools and
chopping block -- preventing many peo- higher education in a bind. Students have
ple from receiving government assis- enough financial difficulties without a
tance. significant drop in federal education dol-
The companion tax-cut bill established lars - Congress must make sure qi-
significant tax cuts for many families. The tional spending cuts are made in all Wti-
bill implements a $500 per child tax cred- zens' best interest.
it by 1999 and provides for tax credits for A fiscal catastrophe such as recession
higher education tuition. The cuts will could render Congress unable to help the
help many low- and middle-income fami- nation's economy. Under such circum-
lies afford education and get by within stances, the government must infuse the
their means. national market with subsidies to counter-
However, the bill also imposes signifi- act failing industries and promote a strong
cant consequences for a net $95 billion economic base. If Congress is stifled by a
tax cut over five years. It calls for a sig- balanced budget mandate, legislators may
nificant cutback in Medicare and be powerless to prevent an economicjol-
Medicaid spending. Over a five-year lapse.
span, the programs will see a net reduc- A balanced federal budget is a good
tion of about $130 billion. The programs goal. However, holding federal income
provide vital health-care services for and expenditures at the same rates
elderly and low-income citizens. Cutting should not replace prudent, timely eco-
their budget so greatly could prevent them nomic decisions. Congress must keep in
from providing people with the services mind the thousands of citizens that rely
they need. In addition, the Social Security heavily on numerous federal social pro-
program faces hard times ahead - a man- grams. and ensure that they are not left
dated balanced budget could force it into without support. Congress needs to have
bankruptcy. Such programs are important sufficient breathing room to keep fetal
especially if there is need for economic programs afloat and to help the nation's
recovery to help people get back on their economic well-being should financial
feet. If their budgets are gutted, they will disaster strike.

I

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