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Model City Issue Exchanges Heated

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Model-City Issue Exchanges Heated

By Ron Cordray

Charges and counter-charges concerning the makeup of the Model Cities Policy Board were fired at last night's City Council meeting.

The heated controversy involved both councilmen and members of the audience, and prompted Mayor Wendell E. Hulcher on numerous occasions to gavel down Speakers for indulging in personalities.

Prior to the later explosive remarks, the council did give near-unanimous approval to Hulcher’s three council representatives on the 17-member policy board. Approved as representatives in a 10-to-l vote were Mrs. Norma Kraker, William Alexander and Mrs. Mildred Officer.

Fifth Ward Councilman Brian R. Connelly voted against the three because, he said, he wanted first to ascertain if the Policy Board was truly representative of the North Central area residents.

Also prior to the fireworks, Dr. Albert H. Wheeler—state chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a member of the policy board—presented council with a list of recommendations adopted by the board.

The recommendations could prove lo be critical to the program. The board is asking that it be made the City Demonstration Agency (CDA) for the Model Cities project.

It also asked that as the CDA it be given local community control in the Model Cities area during the planning and implementation period. WheeIer said the Policy Board, as the CDA, would act as assistant to the city administrator, be the Planning Commission for the area, the Zoning Board of Appeals for the area, the Building and Safety office for the area to administer code enforcement programs, the Human Relations Commission for the area and the Workable Program Committee for the area.

Wheeler said that unless this action is taken, the plans of the Policy Board could be made unworkable by development that could take place within the year.

Adtric Gillespie, the Republican candidate for City Council in the First Ward, touched off heated debate last night by charging that Ezra Rowry is not a member of the Congress of Racial Equality and that, in fact, there is no local chapter of CORE here.

Rowry is representing CORE on the Policy Board and has been elected temporary chairman of that body.

“For some time now, the council—and all of Ann Arbor—has believed that there is a local branch of CORE,” Gillespie said. “There is no such organization in Ann Arbor. I was in Cleveland over the weekend for a conference of CORE, of which I am a member, along with County Supr. David Byrd.

“I hope you will check on this statement with Roy Innis, national director of CORE. There are only two members here, let alone a so-called director. I also hope you will take the necessary action in the final makeup of the Advisory Committee. The Model Cities program is too vital to be involved with such half-truths and less-than-responsible leadership,” Gillespie said.

“I am the chairman of the official CORE chapter here,” Rowry responded later in the meeting, "and I have been so since 1966.” “I won’t attempt to wallow in the dirt of the accusations made. I reported in September that CORE had a split. Those remaining were not a sufficient number to make any determination. I am a member of the board of directors and I am one who left the organization Mr. Innis has not the authority or power to make that decision (on my membership).”

Rowry also noted he participates in a number of organizations. “I’m on the Policy Board because I’m involved. I do know Mr. Innis and I are on different terms. This is CORE'S business, not the City Council’s. I know there’s a little hanky-panky going on around the board.”

Wheeler, speaking a second time, said, 'I still don’t believe white folks understand what the problem is. There’s been a lot of playing of politics tonight. Playing it on the Model Cities is intolerable. I’m amazed that one black candidate who admitted he has not done anything would have the temerity to come up and attack someone who has been helping people for years.”

Wheeler also charged that Byrd, when running for the Board of Supervisors, claimed to be a member of the NAACP. “We never make public disclosures that they aren’t.”

Noting that votes on the Model Cities Policy Board have carried unanimously at Community Center meetings, Wheeler said those opposing it apparently will speak only at council meetings.

Byrd, speaking near the close of the meeting, tossed a card on the table, saying, “There's my NAACP membership card." He then spoke on the representation of the Policy Board, stating he was concerned about the “thousands of silent black people. There are two city halls in Ann Arbor, one here and one at the Community Center. There are two councils, one elected and one appointed.

“I’d like to see things done in a fair way. When misrepresentations are made, even at my own peril, I intend to bring them to light,” Byrd said.

Tom Harrison charged the North Central area residents are being “misled,” stating there is a “shadow of fraud.”

Jesse Hill, a worker at the Community Center who has done much of the work on the Policy Board, said a lack of information on the part of many persons is causing the current controversy. He and Donald Borut, administrative assistant, presented documents outlining procedures leading up to selection of the Policy Board, including numerous meetings and notification of area residents.

There are now 12 members appointed to the Policy Board, including the three council representatives. “In addition to board members, there is a lot of citizen participation,” Hill said.

Fourth Ward Councilman John R. Hathaway said he was concerned that Rowry, representing CORE, may not be a member.

First Ward Councilman H. C. Curry said the comments about Rowry “are not the only untrue or false statements made to this City Council.”