Monday, May 10, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Oil spills aren't debatable
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
EDITOR IN CHIEF
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
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.
City officials need a better approach to homelessness
J tspeaks volumes of the care homeless citizens receive from the
city of Ann Arbor when they are found living in forests rather than
the city's available shelters. Two weeks ago, state police officers
evicted residents of Camp Take Notice, a community of tents on a wood-
ed, unused patch of land near I-94, in an incident that has become a
nationally recognized embarrassment. This incident starkly illustrates
the city's misguided and shortsighted approach to homelessness. The
local government must respond to this problem by improving the acces-
sibility and quality of homeless shelters and services, not by evicting
I wasn't born yet when the Exxon Val-
dez tanker crashed into a reef outside of
Alaska and spilled millions of gallons
of oil into the Pacific Ocean. But BP has
made up for the fact that I missed that
catastrophe by creating one of its own.
On April 21, the explosion on the oil
rig "Deepwater Horizon" killed eleven
workers and created an oil spill the size
of Rhode Island. The well in the Gulf of
Mexico now leaks 5,000 barrels of oil
per day and has posed major environ-
mental and financial problems. Clean-
ing up this spill is going to take time and
money, and many scientists fear that
cataclysmic environmental damage has
already been done.
In spite of the irrefutable serious-
ness of this situation, politicians and
media figures have been discussing the
oil spill as though it's a debatable issue.
They need to realize that oil spills are
bad. They are always bad. There has
never been one that has been good. This
incident has devastated the habitats of
fish and the birds that prey on them.
The livelihoods of those in the fishing
industry have been threatened by the
fishing ban in the affected areas. Not
to mention that the explosion was the
direct cause of eleven tragic deaths. Let
me reiterate: the Deepwater Horizon oil
spill isn't a good thing.
Well, according to Rush Limbaugh,
"hardcore environmentalist wackos"
who think that the government's cur-
rent cap-and-trade bill is too weak
decided that "blowing up the rig" would
draw attention to the dangers of off-
shore drilling and gain support for their
cause. So, if you're a "hardcore environ-
mentalist wacko," then destroying the
environment was a plot on your part to
... help protect the environment? Some-
thing's not adding up here.
Sarah Palin has also jumped in on
the oil spill action. Her advice, relayed
via Twitter, was, "foreign oil co's: don't
naively trust." Thanks, Sarah Palin! It
would stand to reasonthenthatAmerican
oil companies are fully trustworthy. But
Exxon is an American company that was
also implicated in a disastrous oil spill.
Should we not trust anyone anymore?
Here's another fun one. Michael
Brown, former director of the Fed-
eral Emergency Management Agency,
is claiming that President Obama's
delayed response to this crisis has been
for political reasons because "he has
never supported big oil ... and now he has
an excuse to shut it back down.". Now,
maybe it's just me, but if my claim to
fame was the fact that I was the director
of FEMA during its failed response to
Hurricane Katrina, I would never speak
publicly again. Ever. I would especially
not speak publicly about a government
response to an environmental disaster
for fear that the hypocrisy would cause
the world to implode. But, again, that's
Needless to say, not all responses to
the Deepwater Horizon disaster have
been equally constructive. But consid-
ering the fact that the oil well has been
spouting millions of gallons of oil into
the ocean for weeks, I think it is safe to
say that all verbal responses are noth-
ing short of pointless. Talking about and
debating this problem doesn't stop the
leaking oil well.
Today's political climate has become
so partisan that many public figures
have lost sight of the fact that some
things are universally bad. Regardless
of your political orientation, race, eth-
nicity, sexual orientation or what have
you, environmental disasters negatively
affect everyone. Politicians and media
figures alike need to abandon the use-
less blame game because it isn't help-
ing anything. Once the spill has been
cleaned up, go ahead and point fingers
because it's a slow news day. But right
now, this is a serious problem that no
one is benefiting from.
Environmental dangers don't lean left
or right - they affect everyone equally.
As such, politicians and members of the
media need to form a united front on
this issue. They should dedicate them-
selves to efficiently cleaning up the oil
spill and supporting the people whose
lives have been devastated, not letting
politics take over once again.
Michelle DeWitt is an LSA junior.
their harmless resident;
Last month, Camp Take
Notice was given an ultimatum
to either move from its location
or face prosecution. The police
cited trespassing and problems
with domestic violence as jus-
tification for their longstanding
mission to disband the commu-
nity. The group was then forced
to move twice in August and
September of last year, following
the repeated arrest of its leader,
Caleb Poirer, according to The
Washtenaw Voice. It later set-
tled on the wooded state prop-
erty from which it was evicted
in late April, despite continued
protests by lawyers of the Amer-
ican Civil Liberties Union.
What is unclear is why the
state and local police have made
such a crusade out of forcing
homeless Ann Arbor citizens off
of unused, wooded state land.
While there have been three
incidents of reported domes-
tic violence since its founding,
group representatives say the
camp has a strict non-violence
policy, and such violators are
told to leave. In fact, according
to its website, Camp Take Notice
actually seeks to "provide a safe,
sober and drug-free tent city."
The city authorities should not
displace a peaceful camp of
homeless people that poses vir-
tually no harm or inconvenience
to the general public.
The police fail to recognize
that the homeless have few other
choices, and, in many cases, a
self-governing, peaceful com-
munity in the forest is their best
option. State police cited health
hazards and a lack of facilities
as issues with the tent city, but
eviction solves neither of these
problems - it perpetuates them.
With only the Robert J. Delonis
Center providing regular shelter
for chronically homeless adults
in Washtenaw County as of
2008, evictiononly ensures that
another tent city will rise some-
where else in its place.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
The larger problem is that
the homeless of Ann Arbor
don't receive the support they
need from the community. A
2008 Daily report estimated
that close to 4,000 Washtenaw
County residents would experi-
ence homelessness that year, a
number that has likely grown
in recent years and far outstrips
the living space available in local
homeless shelters (Everywhere
to go but home, 01/08/2008). If
the city truly wants to get rid
of these tent cities, it needs to
improve both access to and qual-
ity of homeless shelters, as well
as fight the root of the problem
with job training programs and
low-income housing projects.
The problem Ann Arbor resi-
dents should see in the tent city
isn't trespassing - it's poverty.
Instead of demolishing the
homes of Camp Take Notice res-
idents, the government should
ensure they have another place
We've now developed evidence that
shows that the Pakistani Taliban
was behind the attack."
- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, referring to the botched May 1 Times
Square bombing, as reported yesterday by ABC News.
Nicholas Clift, Rachel Van Gilder, Emma Jeszke, Harsha Panduranga, Joe Stapleton, Laura Veith