News Hits

Dearly departed

The Sunday Journal is about to succumb to the inevitable. The weekly newspaper that striking Detroit News and Free Press workers began publishing four years ago will hit the streets for the final time Nov. 21, according to Lou Mleczko, president of the Newspaper Guild of Detroit.

The Journal, which is among the 10 "Progressive Heroes" profiled in this week’s issue of the Metro Times (see related story), has served as a weekly antidote to the disinformation regularly spun by Detroit’s two dailies. The long-running labor dispute, despite what the dailies would have the public believe, is not over. Workers continue to be locked out of jobs that belong to them, and the quest for both decent contracts and justice continues.

The paper became increasingly more difficult to put out as its staff either found full-time jobs elsewhere or, as has been the case more recently, were called back to work at the dailies.

The Journal was never intended to be permanent, but it was hoped it would continue publishing until the dispute between unionized workers and two of America’s most powerful media corporations reached a formal conclusion.

The paper’s fate was sealed when its board of directors voted unanimously to pull the plug last week. The final edition will mark the fourth anniversary of the Journal’s debut.

"It’s sad," says Emily Everett, the Journal’s managing editor. "But there’s a realization we cannot continue to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We’ve lost so many people."

That doesn’t mean the unions are going silent. "We’ll still be getting the information out," promises Everett. "We’re just not sure what form it will take. But this struggle is not over."

Hamtown lowjinks

Anyone who watches the local political scene knows there’s rarely a dull moment over in the enclave of Hamtramck. But things may have hit a new low there during last week’s municipal election when the old guard (read: all-white and uptight) put their xenophobia into high gear by having poll watchers challenge voters they suspected of being Muslims.

According to Mayor Gary Zych, who earlier this year survived a nasty recall attempt and on Election Day won a second term, there was an organized effort to intimidate Arab-Americans and other apparently Islamic immigrants turning out to cast ballots.

Zych and his slate, which included Bengali-American council candidate Shahab Ahmed and Albanian-American city clerk hopeful John Ulaj, also took advantage of a state law that allows duly designated observers to question people suspected of committing voting fraud. But in their case the challenges were based on research and designed to keep the dead and other illegitimate types from casting ballots. (Ahmed and Ulaj both lost their races.)

The point, says Zych, is that there has to be some valid reason to issue the challenge. At least that’s the case in places where some measure of sanity applies. In Hamtramck, however, showing up at the polls with a skin tone a few shades darker than pasty (indicating a predisposition, it seems, to vote for people who actually embrace diversity rather than vilify it) is apparently reason enough to have your constitutionally protected rights to choose leaders challenged.

A meeting last Thursday was filled with people saying they were intimidated and harassed simply because of their ethnicity.

"Charges," promises Zych, "will be filed."

Downriver uplift

The election of environmentalists in Gibraltar and Trenton last week sent a clear message to the developers known as Made in Detroit: Don’t go messin’ with our marsh.

Frustrated that city officials were ignoring public outrage over plans to put luxury homes and a golf course on the last undeveloped wetlands along the American side of the Detroit River, environmentalists set out to unseat the incumbents. They had remarkable success. In Gibraltar, where Humbug Marsh was the issue, Friends of the River members Kathleen Walz Law and Kathleen LaPointe both won seats on the council. And in Trenton, environmental attorney and Friends of the River member Pat Hartig defeated the incumbent to become Trenton’s new mayor. "Environmentalists everywhere should be energized," crowed Law.

Ford's good Fortune

So, Fortune magazine has named Henry Ford the "businessman of the century." We were wondering whether that designation was just for his unapologetic anti-Semitism, his general racism or the fact that the father of the Model T started us down the road to overreliance on the internal combustion engine. Or maybe it was his innovative use of hired thugs who clubbed lowly workers brazen enough to utter that most hated of all words: "union."

Cold guns and hot sauce

If you’ve been watching TV lately you’ve seen Taco Bell’s vaguely commercial for its new chalupa. Cops bust in on a guy clutching the Bell’s latest creation. The lawmen repeatedly order the apparent maniac to "Drop the chalupa!" It’s supposed to be funny, but even with that talking Chihuahua it’s a dark and humorless spot. But don’t go away disappointed. The good folks from TB recently announced that coupons good for 2,000 free chalupas have been issued to Detroit’s finest. God bless ‘em. Anything that’ll help wean the guys and gals in blue off a steady diet of doughnuts has to be good.

Give that guy a Z-minus

Was that David Adamany sitting in on the recent conference regarding the pros and cons of school takeovers in other major metropolitan areas? Sure was. Unfortunately, the Detroit school district’s new head honcho apparently found the daylong affair somewhat less than stimulating. According to an eyewitness, the man appointed to lead us into academic excellence couldn’t quite keep his eyes open during the afternoon session. A little siesta after downing too many chalupas at lunch?

Good times, bad times

If you want to shell out a few bucks for a fun night out and help out a worthy cause at the same time, consider ambling over to the Cass Cafe (at 4620 Cass in Detroit) around 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13. For $7 you can shake it to the music of the Layabouts and hear some fine local poetry, with the money going to help pay a delegation from Metro Detroit Against Sanctions pay their way to Iraq, where 250 people a day are dying from malnutrition and treatable diseases as a result of the America’s ongoing pressure tactics. The group will bring medical supplies in and eyewitness accounts out. For more info call 313-297-8808.

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