Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Train derailed?
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Train derailed?

Patrick Sullivan - July 11th, 2011
Train Derailed? Future of the Spirit of Traverse City is in doubt
By Patrick Sullivan
Opposition to the city’s plan to remove the Spirit of Traverse City from
Clinch Park is gaining steam.
In the meantime, while the mini train could be figuratively derailed by
the end of this summer, or otherwise moved someplace else, it literally
derailed and part of it tipped over on July 4. The train was back in
service Wednesday after repairs.
Michelle Hazard started the Facebook group Save the Spirit of Traverse
City after she discovered the train had been removed from the city’s
bayfront plan and was not expected to return in 2012.
The group has generated hundreds of comments and prompted nearly 1,500
people to hit the “like” button.
“I’m a relatively new resident, but one of the first things I did when I
came up here was go to Clinch Park and take pictures of the train and its
passengers and I thought what a neat thing it was,” Hazard said. “The
train was part of the process of deciding I wanted to move here.”

At a meeting Tuesday, the city commission responded to the uproar.
Commissioners agreed to ask the architects to try to design the train back
into the bayfront plan, Mayor Christopher Bzdok said.
Planners may also seek an alternate spot for the train, he said.
“The ‘uproar’ is good for local morning radio, which seems to be
generating it, but the parks commission has been and continues to be
working on a solution,” Bzdok said.
In fact, Hazard said the spokesman for the Save the Sprit of TC group is
Jack O’Malley, a morning DJ at WTCM.
Jim Carruthers, a city commissioner, said he believes the train should be
saved because of its historical significance.
“Everybody seems to have a memory of that train,” Carruthers said. “Don’t
we want to preserve our history in some way?”
Carruthers hears the train from his home on 11th Street and believes it
adds to the character of the city.
He said he isn’t sure how many of the train supporters are actually city
residents, though. Many of them, he suspects, are tourists or people who
live out of town.

Some say the public outcry in favor of the train is coming a little late.
Gary Howe, a parks and recreation commissioner and smart growth advocate
on his blog, mywheelsareturning.com, said there were numerous
opportunities for people to voice their feelings about the train during
the bayfront planning process.
During those public hearings, the train didn’t receive a lot of support,
he said.
“The design/engineering firm played with many different ideas and in the
end couldn’t make it work with all the other elements and goals that came
out of an exhaustive public process that included a lot of volunteer hours
by a lot of people,” Howe said.
Howe said it was determined that including the train would ultimately mean
too many sacrifices would have to be made to a well-though-out plan to
make the bayfront more usable.
“There wasn’t a large outcry demanding the city to design around the
train,” Howe said. “In fact, many people were indifferent, if not
supportive of moving forward without the train.”

Lauren Vaughn, Traverse City Parks and Recreation superintendent, agrees
the decision to remove the train came down to design.
“When (the design firm) got to the final design work, they felt that it
just didn’t fit well,” Vaughn said.
New features such as the splash pad proposed for TC’s bayfront are also
expected to bring more children to the area, increasing safety concerns,
he said.
Cost of the train didn’t factor into the decision to remove it, Vaughn
said. He said in the past few years the train has operated at a deficit of
roughly around $5,000 to $10,000 per year.
Carruthers said even though he was a part of the bayfront planning process
he doesn’t understand how the train was removed from the plans.
“I do remember the meetings where one week it was there and the next
meeting it wasn’t,” he said.
He shares the concern of critics about the lack of public discussion
leading to the removal of the train.
“Designers can design around things,” he said. “They just felt it would be
easier to come in and have a clean slate.”

The train literally derailed on July 4. Vaughn said no injuries were
There is an array of possible causes for the derailment -- a coin or a
rock could have caused the train to leave the rails, or the movement of
passengers could have caused the car to tip, he said.
Vaughn said minor derailments that involve the train coming off the tracks
but not tipping over are not uncommon, but he’s never heard of the train
tipping over like it did last week.
“This is my 20th year and I can’t remember any time when a train car has
tipped over like that,” Vaughn said.
The Spirit of Traverse City has been a part of TC’s history since the
early 1980s.
In 1970 a local resident purchased the locomotive from an owner in
California, according to the city’s website.
The man attempted to set it up on his property on Elk Lake but his family
soon lost interest and the train was for sale again.
The city purchased the train in 1979 and it went into service at Clinch
Park in 1982, renamed the Spirit of Traverse City.
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