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The Program Of The Ann Arbor Green's Campaign For City Council

The Program Of The Ann Arbor Green's Campaign For City Council image
Parent Issue
Month
March
Year
1991
Copyright
Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held By
Agenda Publications
OCR Text

The Problem: The costs of wai and preparing for war run extremely high for the economy, for people, and for the environment. To pay for this single largest item in the federal budget, Washington has had to raise taxes, leaving less at the local level; borrow funds, thereby shortening the money supply; raise interest rates; and reallocate funds from other áreas such as Social Security. Dollar for dollar, military expenditures produce the lowest economie return. Pressing social needs such as infant health, drug abuse treatment, maintenance of transportation infrastructures, and education programs such as Head Start are dramatically underfunded. Military related research engages over half of the scientifïc researchers nationwide, including many at the University of Michigan. Economie opportunity for young people has evaporated over the last 10 years, while the military and the drug trade have become the only 'jobs program' availablc to them. Now we are embroiled in World War UI, a sad reminder of our failure to plan for peace. The destructivepotential of violence extends well beyond the soldier in the field. Violence is now a fact of everyday life in America. Our daily exposure to violence as entertainment on televisión, sale of violent toys, and aggression against women, children, people of color, the gay community, and people holding non-conformist beliefs have all increased. U.S. society does not seek to resolve conflict peacefully, but rather resorts to violence and anger instead. The Alternative: We believe that Ann Arbor has the people and resources to establish model programs to promote multicultural and international understanding, and peace within the community. Examples include: Makingnonviolentdisputeresolutiontrainingavailabletoall citizens at the public schools and libraries. Creating nonviolent civilian-based defense militia. Making Ann Arbor a nuclear free zone. Passing a city resolution opposing the war in the Persian Gulf and making Ann Arbor a sanctuary for military résisters. Ending tax abatements or subsidies to organizations accepting military contracts, including the University of Michigan. Passing a city resolution opposing an unaccountable armed campus pólice forcé. Electing a citizen's pólice oversight board to investígate complaints of pólice brutality, harassment and other misconduct. Enhancing pólice training programs on racism, sexism, and homophobia. Electing a citizen's commission on civil rights. II. Grassroots Democracy The Problem: Unfortunately, here in Ann Arbor, as well as nationally , corporate wealth buy s a disproportionately large voice in governmental decisions. It is often a struggle for average taxpaying citizens to have their voices heard in City Council chambers. To the credit of the people of Ann Arbor, we have spoken out strongly on various local issues, but it often seems that nobody in city hall is listening. Our centralized city government is not structured to allow for genuine citizen participation. (Even public speaking time at City Council meetings is severely limited, and referred to as "audience participation.") The Alternative: We do not want to be an audience. We need to build a strong, new grassroots politics in our city, not just put new ñames and faces in the system. We need to ensure that every person in our community has the right to valued input in the govemance of Ann Arbor. To accomplish this we would créate neighborhood andor ward assemblies, akin to the "ward republics" envisioned by Thomas Jef ferson. Through these assemblies, decisions about the well-being and future of the community can be debated and decided directly by the people. The City Council members would then be called upon to implement these decisions. Citizens would also have the right to recall Council members who do not live up to their mandates. The ward assemblies would, in effect, become the "voice of the city." Working within this context, Ann Arbor can also lead the way in establishing democratie county-wide confederations with neighboring communities to deal with transportation, land use, groundwater protection, and other regional concerns. As steps toward more democratie self-government we propose: Preferential voting in place of the winner takes all, two party system. Election, rather than political appointment, of all boards and commissions. Close the "revolving door" between city govemment and private interests. Créate a "citizen's guide to local govemment." Establish a New England style Town Meeting. If and when a new city hall is built in Ann Arbor, it must have far more space for public assembly. UI. Ecology and Growth The Problem: Environmental degradation may be the greatest single problem facing us. As even the popular media have pointed out, the planet is clearly being abused and suffering. There are many local environmental problems that must be addressed through committed action. Of these, perhaps "growth" is the most pressing. Despite the current recession, Ann Arbor continúes to grow at a furious pace. We face increased pollution and unsightly building projects, some that sit half-finished and abandoned. We struggle with intolerable traff ic congestión while businesses clamor for more parking which will surely lead to road expansions. Washtenaw county is being swallowed up by suburban sprawl, destroying farm land and making people ever more dependant on the automobile for transportation. The stresses of big-city life, throw-away habits.and endless development are invading the community life we value. The Alternative: The future of Ann Arbor must be guided by the needs of all people, not just by short term profit. If we are to preserve the environment for future generations we must make changes in our way of life that can be that can be maintained for hundreds of years. This will involve structural changes, not simply fïnding a hundred simple things an individual can do save the earth. The following options meet this need: Passing a moratorium on development. We need to decide our future democratically, along ecological, humane, and rational lines.. Developing a bio-regional land use plan for the next century that includes preservation of family farms; preservation of wetlands and wildlife habitat; public transit; and res tor at ion of the Huron River to its pre-industrial state of heallh. Working towards local energy independence based on renewable energy sources such as water, wind, and solar power. Making the most of plentiful local resources such as the methane escaping into the atmosphere from our landfill. Using new energy saving devices such as compact fluorescent lights in all municipal buildings. Introducing stringent energy efficiency standards for all new construction and renovation in the city building code. Municipally acquiring open land to be held in public trust. Passing a packaging reduction ordinance. Restoring Ann Arbor's trolley system and bringing backdiala-ride. Creating a complete system of bike and pedestrian paths, including a pedestrian mail on Main Street. Making Ann Arbor a "Toxic Free Zone." Developing sister city relationships with cities in Eastem Europe for technical assistance in ecological restoration. IV. Economie Justice The Problem: We live in a competitive grow-or-die economy that knows no moral or ecological limits. The market economy by its very nature must expand until it tears down the planet. Not only is this insane form of "growth" destroying the environment, it is also destroying the human community. One of the greatest threats to Ann Arbor' s quality of life is the continuing commercial constructionreal estáte speculation frenzy . This odious trend is continuing to force low and moderate income people out of the community, while wealthy developers reap the benefits. The real-esutte speculation spiral creates an artificial prosperity on paper which can only be redeemed by future price increases. Our city must not be allowed to become solely an affluent bedroom community, devoid of economie and cultural diversity. Our economy is not providing such basic needs as decent housing, health care, and a liveable income for many citizens. We are witnessing the emergence of a new underclass of poor people, many of them women and small children, who suffer from poverty and homelessness amidst unprecedented affluence. Economie and social injustice has become a major factor in the everyday life of our community. The Alternative: We need to bring not only an ecological, but a social ecological perspective to bear on city problems. We should never pit ecological issues against social issues, "trading off' the natural environment for the dubious benefits of "growth." The Greens believe that decent housing, health care, a liveable income and good working conditions are rights, not privileges. We also believe that all people have a natural right to live in a healthy, sound environment. We envision a sustainable economy, one that meets human needs without destroying the environment. We believe that small scale, socially responsible, locally owned businesses and municipally owned public Utilities can form the foundation for a just economy. We need to convert from a multinationalmilitary economy to a human scale economy, beginning right here at home. We cali for preservation of the downtown business district as a unique alternative to chain stores and shopping mails. The business district should welcome all types of people and be accessible by means other than cars. A broad mix of housing is paramount for the downtown. We understand that many of our tax dollars leave our community to fill state and federal coffers. Nonetheless, we foresee practical and creative steps that can be initiated by our community to make these rights and visions a reality. The steps we propose are to: Amend the DDA charter to prohibit building of any more parking structures, and to make energy efficiënt housing for low income people a top priority. Convert the Ann Arbor Inn to low cost housing. Institute a property tax freeze for Ann Arborites on fixed incomes (who live in their own homes). Pass a genuine Tenants Privacy Act, not a "landlord access act." Provide seed money for socially responsible local businesses, using affirmative action standards. Expand the network between local farmers and consumers to foster local agriculture and prevent further loss of farmland to development. Establish acity-funded nonprofit health care clinic to provide basic preven tive and routine health care needs of the uninsured. Encourage the U-M to offer incentives to their health care staff to volunteer their time. Build a new senior citizen's center on top of one of the "twin holes" on Main Street instead of destroying the woods near Pioneer High School. This center should include housing for and modest-income elderly, a pharmacy, a grocery store, van jitney service, and medical clinic. The facility could serve as an ideal locación for a model intergenerational day care center.

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