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 · Art · Mission Possible
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Mission Possible

Rick Coates - November 3rd, 2005
Debra McKeon, the new executive director of the Traverse Area Arts Council has her hands full. Funds and grants for arts organizations have been drying up in recent years. And without a leader for over a year, little if anything has been heard of the Arts Council during that time.
“The Arts Council has essentially been resting for the past year,” said McKeon. “Its importance to the community has not lessened at all. After coming off a 10 year run where it accomplished so much for the arts in this area, this sort of down time is typical. It has been catching its breath and is now ready for its next phase.”
McKeon, who started in late September, comes in as “overqualified” for the position. For the past 20 years she has worked at the international performing arts level. That included serving as the assistant manager of the New York Philharmonic and traveling with famed conductor Leonard Bernstein. A desire to enjoy small town living led her and her husband to move to Elk Rapids where he serves as a school band director.
McKeon’s time with the New York Philharmonic led to several contacts in the performing arts community resulting in her creating McKeon & Associates, Inc. Her company has consulted numerous arts organizations with strategic planning, project facilitation and operational management. Her clients have included the renowned Julliard School, for which she coordinated several international orchestra tours. McKeon has also worked with the American Federation of Musicians, Youth Music Australia, American-Soviet Youth Orchestra, The New England Conservatory and most recently as managing director and CEO of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas (YOA).
The YOA is led by artistic advisor Plácido Domingo with President Bush and his wife Laura serving as honorary chairs. The internationally acclaimed orchestra saw its operation strengthened under McKeon, who oversaw the annual $1.6 million development drive as well as the organization’s $2 million operating budget.

With her credentials McKeon could easily serve as the chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, so one must wonder why she would want to take on the challenges of the Traverse Area Arts Council?
“I see this as a wonderful challenge to be a part of a community that celebrates the arts,” said McKeon. “We have tremendous arts resources in this region and I welcome the opportunity to work together with the numerous individual organizations in the area that are promoting the arts.”
As McKeon assesses the current “state of the arts” in the Traverse region she points to the fact the area is plentiful with performances and exhibitions. She sees the role of the council to help facilitate events versus becoming another presenting organization.
“We are fortunate to have Interlochen Center for the Arts, Traverse Symphony Orchestra, Dennos Museum, The City Opera House, several galleries, neighborhood artists, theater groups and others doing an excellent job presenting performing and visual arts in our community,” said McKeon. “The Arts Council doesn’t need to enter into the presenting arena. Our goal must be that of facilitator and promoter of the arts.”
McKeon is spending her first days on the job meeting with area arts leaders and discussing what they need and expect from the Arts Council. She is building and repairing bridges between the major arts presenters and the Council. Early response has been positive.
“There is no question that every arts leader I have spoke with sees relevancy and certainly a place for the Traverse Area Arts Council,” said McKeon. “What we need to do is assess how we are able to best service the broad umbrella of the arts we have here.”
McKeon doesn’t see the numerous arts groups in competition with one another but rather as partners in promoting the area as an arts-centered community. She feels this is essential to the image of Traverse City.
“I was recently reading an editorial by Don Coe of the Winery at Black Star Farms where he wrote about the importance of the arts to the business community,” said McKeon. “This is often overlooked in the economic development process in many communities. It is a positive that the business community here understands the relationship between the arts and a healthy economic climate.”
In addition to connecting with the players in the arts community McKeon also plans to develop relationships with the business community.
“It is essential for the health of the arts here that we have support from the business community,” said McKeon. “We are exploring several options and partnerships and by the first of the year should have some exciting opportunities to announce.”
At the root of her challenges is definitely dollars. During its period of “rest” the Traverse Area Arts Council funds dried up. The budget currently allows for McKeon to essentially be on the payroll only one day a week and there are barely enough dollars to employ a part-time administrative assistant. Lack of funds have forced the council to vacate its downtown Traverse City office and locate in McKeon’s home office in Williamsburg. Despite the financial challenges McKeon remains optimistic about the Council’s future.
McKeon points to one community that is 50 miles up the road as a great example of a city that has centered itself on the arts.
“Often we think we have to look across the country for examples, but Petoskey is a prime illustration of a community that has embraced the arts at its core,” said McKeon. “I know other communities in the area are looking to the arts as a means to stimulate tourism and economic growth.”
Don Coe of Black Star Farms agrees and feels that Traverse City is the major economic center in Northern Michigan and should lead as the major cultural player as well.
“It is essential for the health of our region that Traverse City embrace the cultural community,” said Coe. “It is why our wine region early on made a commitment to support the arts. We see a direct relationship in our success in having a solid arts culture here in Northern Michigan.”
While finances are a concern McKeon feels confident in the community’s desire to support the arts and feels the funds will be there. A bigger challenge from her perspective is art’s biggest competitor: the home.
“We are at place in our society that people in general feel they don’t need to leave their home to be entertained,” said McKeon. “I see that as our biggest undertaking as the Traverse Area Arts Council. DVDs, video games and high quality music recordings are keeping people at home more. It is important that we promote the importance of experiencing the arts in person and coming together as a community to experience it. We are loaded with artistic talent. We have musicians, actors, painters, sculptors and others who easily could make a living in the big city as artists but they choose to live here. Several of these artists have international reputations.”
In order for McKeon to accomplish the Council’s mission she will need adequate financial support and cooperation from the community. Petoskey’s Crooked Tree Arts Council employs eight, while McKeon is expected to work miracles one day a week. Fortunately for the Traverse City Arts Council and the arts community in general McKeon is committed to her love for the arts and she is currently giving more than the eight hours a week her contract calls for.
To assist McKeon in her efforts either financially or with moral support contact her through the councils website www.traversearts.org or at her office 231-947-2282.
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