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..

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The Bad Taste of Perrier

Robert Downes - March 14th, 2002
So, how do you like the notion that Michigan is giving nearly $10 million to a corporation in Paris which will sell our precious groundwater and send the profits to a company in Switzerland?
Those are the dirty details behind the $100 million Perrier water bottling plant being built in Mecosta County.
The Perrier Group of America has been a subsidiary of Perrier Vittel in Paris since 1992. Perrier Vittel, in turn, is owned by the Nestlé Corporation of Switzerland.
“As the world‘s largest bottled water company, Perrier Vittel serves customers in 140 countries on 5 continents with more than 70 well-known bottled water brands,“ states its website at www.perriergroup.com.
Closer to home, the Wall Street Journal reported in 1997 that the Perrier Group of America owns or operates 122 springs in the U.S. alone. All over America, environmentalists have been fighting Perrier to preserve groundwater in states such as Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania.
And now they‘re after our water... with the profits going to Switzerland!
The wealthy burghers of Geneva must surely be raising a glass of springwater to toast their good friend, Gov. John Engler.
We can‘t say that we “own“ the water under Northern Michigan any more than we own the waters of the Amazon, the snows of Antarctica or the air over Africa.
But by tradition, we are the guardians of our groundwater -- no one‘s going to keep it clean or protect it but us.
So in a sense, we do collectively “own“ the water and air of our region through the agency of our state government, which is supposed to serve as our watchdog.
That watchdog has been sleeping on the job in regard to the Perrier plant near Big Rapids, which seeks to pump 80 to 105 million gallons of groundwater per year.
The kicker is that the Engler administration is also paying Perrier $9.6 million for the privilege of making a profit.
Perrier will receive $9.6 million from the State of Michigan in the form of “a subsidy package of infrastructure improvements, worker training, and property and education tax abatements,“ according to a report entitled “Liquid Gold Rush“ by Andrew Guy and Patty Cantrell of the Michigan Land Use Institute.
Your tax dollars will assist a company which had $1.6 billion in revenues last year, according to its website (and we‘re talking about the Perrier Group of America here, not Nestlé).
In addition to granting Perrier permission to pump up to 105 million gallons of groundwater per year, Michigan‘s Department of Environmental Quality has approved pipelines for more than 210 million gallons.
As usual in such cases, the ringing question is “why“?
Why would Governor Engler sell out Michigan‘s resources at a time when he‘s also giving lip service to the Great Lakes Charter, a treaty between Canada and the U.S. which was created to preserve the waters of the Great Lakes?
The usual answer for plundering natural resources at the expense of the future is jobs. Perrier‘s plant will create 80 new jobs in a needy part of the state. Even so, that seems small compensation for this dangerous precedent in water diversion.
Forty years from now, the volume of water in the Great Lakes could drop by as much as 25 percent, according to a 1997 report by a coalition of U.S. and Canadian environmental groups.
Perrier‘s pumps will draw from a central Michigan aquifer that serves as the wellspring for the Muskegon River which empties into Lake Michigan. The Perrier project comes at a time when Great Lake levels are down something like 7 feet on Lake Michigan and 20 feet on Lake Erie.
The good news here is a lawsuit filed recently by three Northern Michigan Indian tribes in U.S. District Court. The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Petoskey, the Grand Traverse Band Of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians‘ suit claims that the water diversion violates an 1836 treaty between the federal government and Michigan tribes.
The Perrier project is no small thing in the era of the World Trade Organization, in which all of the environmental rules are being rewritten to benefit corporations such as Perrier Vittel and Nestlé. At a United Nations conference in 1998, the officials of 84 counties agreed that henceforth, water should be considered a “commodity“ to be paid for, rather than a free, essential element to life on Earth.
That‘s good news for companies like Nestlé, but really bad news for Northern Michigan.
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