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July 27, 2009 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2009-07-27

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Monday, July 27, 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 theofficial position of the Daily's editorialboard. Allother signed articles and illustrations represent solely
theviewsof their authors.
Banking on success
Land Bank offers opportunity for community development
These tumultuous economic times have paved the path for a new
brand of banking in Washtenaw County - one free of deposit
slips and PINs. Say hello to the Land Bank. A surge of foreclo-
sures caused by the recession has burdened local communities with
unused properties that are inefficient and diminish the value of nearby
properties. The freshly-formed Washtenaw County Land Bank Author-
ity is sure to help with this problem. To do that, the Land Bank should
concentrate on providing affordable housing for county residents and
encourage important environmentally friendly initiatives.

Ethics always affect
consumer decisions
Last week, Jeremy Levy argued
that"single producer-to-consumer
transactions" should be morality-
free zones where "our sense of
social responsibility shouldn'tmat-
ter" (Not buying it, 07/19/2009).
Whether or not Americans have a
responsibility to purchase Ameri-
can cars, Levy's principle goes
too far. What about the exchange
of cash for a product immunizes
participants from the ethical con-
sequences of their actions?
Levy's claim that consumers
should maximize their own per-
sonal benefit in any transaction is
itself a kind of ethical principle -
and a selfish one at that. The issue
isn't whether or not ethics should
govern our economic behavior,
butwhich ethics should influence
our decisions.
Daniel Trump
Law School
Corruption claims
lack real credibility
In his latest column on the
corruption of the Environmen-
tal Protection Agency, Patrick
Zabawa's first sentence is, "as
a reader, you expect the news
stories in this newspaper to be
balanced and unbiased" (The cov-
er-ups continue, 07/13/2009). Had
Zabawa used these themes as his
guide and bothered to dosa Google
search, he would have found that
John Davidson and Alan Carlin,
who authored a report on global

warming discarded by the EPA on
global warming that Zabawa ref-
erenced, aren't climate scientists.
I found and read the "gagged"
draft report. In summary, it
immediately states that the
report's theoriestcould be
wrong. The main theme is that
the Earth's climate is so incred-
ibly complex that the possibil-
ity exists that man-made carbon
dioxide increases may not be the
sole cause of global warming.
Until we know for sure, I would
allow that this is possible, but the
General Secretary of The World
Meteorological Organization
wrote in response, "It is a misin-
terpretation of the data and of sci-
entific knowledge to point to one
year as the warmest on record...
and then to extrapolate that cool-
er subsequent years invalidate
the reality of global warming and
its effects."
I am disgusted that the jour-
nalistic ethics and ideals I stud-
ied at the University are being
corrupted by the likes of Fox
News and writers more inter-
ested in a political agenda than in
the truth.
All governments are going to
suffer corruption at some point.
That is expected. But, the exam-
ple provided in Zabawa's column
is weak at best.
That said, the "gagged" report
and subsequent media spin
achieved its right wing goal of
injecting FUD (Fear, Uncertainty,
and Doubt) into the debate on the
environment as Obama tries to
move this country toward agreen,
energy-independent future that
big oil corporations oppose.
Now there's a place for a good
journalist to look for political
James Mersereau

The Washtenaw County Land
Bank was established on July 8,
just in time to meet the dead-
line to receive $300,000 in fed-
eral stimulus funds to help with
start-up costs. A specific busi-
ness plan has yet to be gener-
ated, but the Washtenaw Land
Bank will probably follow a fair-
ly standard model. Generally,
after acquiring foreclosed prop-
erties, land banks collaborate
with local officials to determine
their best use on a case-by-case
basis. This could mean renova-
tion, demolition, beautification
or other projects. Properties are
then sold to private owners who
agree to develop the land along
the land bank's suggestion.
The Washtenaw Lank Bank
is expected to be modeled after
the Genesee County Land Bank,
which has earned the 2007
Harvard University/Fannie
Mae Foundation Innovations in
American Government Award for
Affordable Housing. The over-
all impact of the Genesee Land
Bank has been overwhelmingly

positive - Genesee has produced
a cost-conscious program that
softened the blow of the Flint
area housing crisis. There is no
reason why Washtenaw County
can't replicate this success.
But for the Lank Bank to work
here, officials will have to tai-
lor its objectives to Washtenaw
County's needs and values. For
example, here in Ann Arbor,
students and residents alike
have long been in need of more
affordable rental units. Afford-
able housing located centrally
in downtown Ann Arbor helps
combat socioeconomic strati-
fication in the city. It allows
people of various means to live
in close proximity, rather than
forcing the less fortunate to live
further from the city proper
and commute. And if the Land
Bank takes initiative to encour-
age the development of this kind
of affordable housing, the city
wouldn't have to foot the bill.
Local residents and especially
students have also expressed
their enthusiasm for more envi-
Editorial Board Members:

ronmentally friendly initiatives.
The Land Bank could support
this cause by encouraging pri-
vate owners to include features
approved by the U.S. Green
Building Council's Leadership
in Energy and Environmental
Design program. Perhaps even
environmentally friendly high-
rises could be on the Land Bank's
agenda -- these could also facili-
tate low-income housing.
And even less functional uses
- like vegetable gardens or play-
grounds -could prevent further
degradation of the already bur-
dened housing market by turn-
ing blighted properties that
pull down property value into
useful spaces.
This project has potential.
But the officials in charge of the
project should proceed with cau-
tion - wasteful uses of property
or delayed development could be
disastrous. It's up to the officials
in charge of the Land Bank to
make sure this doesn't happen
and see that the project creates
the facilities the city needs.

Let us know what you think. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu or
visit michigandaily.com and click on 'Letter to the editor.'
Q It's only fassrentation..C

Raghu Kainkaryam, Sutha K Kanagasingam, Erika Mayer,
Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Vivian Wang, Patrick Zabawa

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