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 · An interview with Sasha Reuther...
. . . .

An interview with Sasha Reuther

Patrick Sullivan - July 25th, 2011
An interview with Sasha Reuther
By Patrick Sullivan
Northern Express: How did you end up making a film about your family?
Sasha Reuther: Obviously, I grew up around the story. I’m Victor Reuther’s
grandson, so throughout my childhood we’d spend holidays together with my
grandfather. We grew up in Washington D.C., so I was only right down the
street from him and I grew up around these amazing stories of the picket
line battles and my grandfather was the international director of the
union so he would travel overseas and he would talk about traveling in
Japan and Germany. And of course, he lost an eye in an assassination
attempt, so here’s this kind of larger than life character that I grew up
with. ...
Then coupled with that, I really was addicted to movies as a kid. I just
watched so many. My mom and I would sit together on the weekends. Even at
a young age, I knew I wanted to make that magic happen on the screen, so I
applied to film school. I got into NYU. ...
It was kind of like, I knew I had this story in the back pocket. Like, you
know, someday I’ve got to tell the family story.

NE: How long have you been working on this film?
Reuther: In film school I at least went down and did a long series of
videotaped interviews with my grandfather while he was still very sharp
and we went through his memoir, he went through each chapter and I had
read the book, but even then it was such a large legacy for me to really
understand all of it. And I said, Papa, ... how about (you) tell me every
story you can think of, and we’ll just talk, so it was very free-hand. ...
I graduated in 1998 from NYU, so it’s been many years since then, but at
least I’d taped that and then I moved on to doing other short format
commercials and music videos and things like that.
When my grandfather passed away in 2004, there were two different
memorials for him, one in Washington and one in Detroit, and there was a
fascinating collection of his allies that were still around, civil rights
leaders and politicians, and they all came and they were all there and
they were telling these amazing stories.
My wife sort of was kicking me, she was saying, I know you really want to
do this project. You better get out there and start talking to these guys.
And it really started from there. It took a couple of years to get rolling
after my grandfather’s memorial, but in 2007 I hired a co-producer, I
hired a cinematographer, and we just got out there, raised a little money
and started to tape interviews. And the rest is history.

NE: Does it frustrate you that some of the things your family fought for,
things that were unheard of at the time, like pensions, automatic
retirement ages, and unemployment benefits, became almost taken for
granted and now are disappearing again?
Reuther: Of course. On a higher level. I’m frustrated by the fact that
most of my generation (doesn’t know anything about the history of unions).
Had I not grown up in this family, I would know really generally nothing
about labor history, let alone the Reuthers. There’s not a lot of concrete
labor history in the typical high school books. You know, we get a lot of
civil rights history. We get a lot of Dr. Martin Luther King, which, you
know, no denying how important those legacies are, but we kind of skip
over some key elements of labor history and it frustrates me that no one
of my generation could ever recall having a labor leader as their role
model. It just doesn’t exist. ...
I know there are labor leaders out there that are still doing the right
thing and they’ve committed their lives just to the welfare of the common
man, and that takes a lot. So these are men and women that are doing
heroic things but nobody knows anything about them. There’s kind of like a
lack of PR. ...
I feel saddened because there’s such a negative image of unions and it’s
really like, ‘they’re the ones that got us in this mess and of course
that’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to start stripping labors
rights because then maybe we can get back on a solid footing,’ which I
think is ridiculous.

NE: Assassins attempted to kill Walter Reuther in 1938 and Victor Reuther
in 1949 in much the same way and neither of those cases were solved. How
much does that hang over your family? How does your film address those
Reuther: I’m a couple of generations removed from it. ... I can’t say I
grew up much around the next generation of family members, meaning my
father and that level, feeling like we have to get to the bottom of this,
just because I kind of feel like the UAW themselves, at that time, made
such efforts to have their own investigation and how difficult that must
have been. From what I’ve read and understood, there wasn’t really a
tremendous amount of cooperation from the FBI. I think there was an
investigation but maybe not as thorough as possible. I don’t think someone
like J. Edgar Hoover was a big fan of Walter in general. ...
(My parents) were just kids when the assassination attempt happened, so
they weren’t really around (to know) who was in Walter’s circle, who was
in my grandfather’s circle. It was a very different time in Detroit and
there were a lot of competing forces and I think that it was a tough town.
We do cover this in the film. To be honest, it really wasn’t my place to
point a finger at anyone, because I think that the Reuthers had a lot of
enemies at that time.
NE: Do you or other family members believe Walter Reuther was assassinated?
Reuther: It’s hard for me to speak for all the different family members. I
think in my life, every few years or at different times, I’d be curious
about it and I’d hear one extended family member or another bring it up
again and say, you know, they should have done a more thorough
investigation of that.
My grandfather, even he kind of wavered here and there. Since I spent a
lot of time studying his memoir, and several other memoirs, I know in his
memoir, which was pretty recent after the crash I think he finished his
book in 1976, so it wasn’t long after that, and in his book he pretty
clearly states that it was his feeling that at the time that there wasn’t
enough evidence to call it any kind of conspiracy. ...
And I’ve read through the National Transportation Safety Board (report),
I’ve seen their final report that does say that yes there is a strong
possibility that the altimeter was faulty or could have been put in upside
down, so there are some interesting things there.
To keep it short, my general impression was that to have such a nationally
influential figure pass away in that kind of an instance, that has a
little bit of a shadow of, OK, we know it was difficult weather, we know
the runways weren’t lit as well as certain major runways, and we knew that
it was probably a difficult approach in that kind if weather, but if it
had that one inkling, of, oh, well, it’s possible that the altimeter was
put in upside down or there was a screw loose, I think that there should
have been a followup investigation, just to see. I mean, he was at the
level of Dr. King or Robert Kennedy, and in that same kind of liberal
power group, and I can’t see why there wasn’t s little more of a thorough
investigation or a followup.

NE: Have you spent much time in Traverse City?
Reuther: I have never been to Traverse City before and I’m really looking
forward to it. I’ve been up to, not to Traverse City, but with the film we
spent a lot of time mainly in Detroit, in and around Solidarity House, and
a lot of the locations where, sadly, where the former factories used to
be, you know, they’re not really there anymore.
But we did spend a lot of time kind of walking in the steps of my elders.
And we did take a trip -- I’ve been to Black Lake, where the UAW Education
Center is, many times in my life. I remember going up there as a kid. It
really is such a beautiful, serene environment up there, but we did go for
the film, with my crew, my co-producer and cinematographer, to take some
footage of that property. We also went to the Pellston Airport, where the
plane went down.

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01.31.2016 at 01:49 Reply
I am a 64 year-old retired industrial electrician, having worked my entire life in the Rockford, IL area. My first job as an electrician was at a "conservative (translation: vote straight Republican!) company. For my first 15 years there, I believed the conservative crap that they preached, because I didn't know any better. The last 4 years that I was employed there, I could see how the company (and our country) was changing. I was "shown the door" (permanently laid off) just after reaching my 19th anniversary there. Upon being laid off, I found out how difficult it was to find another job in a local factory as an electrician. Fortunately, I found a job as an electrician at the A.O. Smith Automotive Products plant in Rockford. A.O. Smith made truck frames for General Motors and had 3 fully-automated assembly lines. They were not a union shop when I first started there but they voted in the U.A.W. shortly thereafter. While employed there, A.O. Smith sold their Automotive Products Division to a start-up company called Tower Automotive. Evidently A.O. Smith decided that there was no longer any opportunity to make money being a "Tier-One" automotive supplier. While working at what became Tower Automotive, I was able to obtain my U.A.W. Journeyman Electrician card, in recognition of the on-the-job experience I had obtained while working in that field. I worked there for 6-1/2 years, until the facility was closed permanently, the parent company having lost the new contract for General Motors' new generation of truck frames to another company. I worked there until the very last day that they were in production. I have recently finished reading two books on the history of the U.A.W. and Walter Reuther, the union's president. The first book was titled "The U.A.W. and the Heyday of American Liberalism," by Kevin Boyle. The second book was titled "The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit: Walter Reuther and the Fate of American Labor." In reading these two books, I found out what a great man and labor leader Walter Reuther was. I also found out that he had a great many good ideas, almost all od which were stymied by members of BOTH the Democratic and the Republican parties - people who were then, as now, bought off by the "Big Money" interests. If Mr. Reuther's ideas had been allowed to come to fruition, I believe that the United States would have become a much better country than it is now and things would have been much better for ALL working people. Brad Anbro