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 · Random Thoughts · Embezzlement 101
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Embezzlement 101

Robert Downes - January 19th, 2006
A few of us here in Northern Michigan received a surprise bonus over the Christmas holidays. It was a payout from a distant and obscure banking organization to former members of the old Bay Area Medical Federal Credit Union many years ago.
It was so long ago that I’d all but forgotten the matter until receiving a check for $153 -- my share from an amount that had been embezzled, repayed, parsed and trickled down through the years after all the lawyers, accountants and regulators got their cut, I’m sure.
I remember the Fouch family who were at the heart of looting the credit union for $2.5 million or more. They were nice people. Every two weeks I’d stop by the credit union to cash my check and we‘d make small talk about things like vacation plans. Whenever there was something squirrelly about the balance in my checkbook, manager Jay Fouch -- the family patriarch -- would hasten to explain that it was just a fund balance transfer miscrepancy or some such rigamarole, and the problem would be fixed until the next time.
Then came the anonymous calls to the authorities that the Fouch family was buying expensive cars, homes, toys and vacations. They were like a family that was dancing on spinning logs over icy water, juggling accounts until the whole mess sent them underwater.
These days, it’s practically raining embezzlers in Northern Michigan from Manistee to Petoskey and beyond. You can hardly open the daily paper without reading of yet another township official, private employee, or person holding a public trust getting caught red-handed.
And embezzlement goes much deeper than what we hear about in the newspaper: many local businesses are wrecked because of embezzlements that are settled out of court and never reach the press. “Inside jobs” that can destroy a business as effectively as an armed robbery.
But many embezzlers have a habit of flashing their bling around, making blunders that would make a burglar blush. It’s like they’re screaming to get caught. Consider these recent cases:

• Last June, Jerome “Jay” Wisniewski, the former director of Manistee’s housing commission, was charged with embezzling $1.2 million over a five year period. Apparently, Wisniewski never thought anyone would suspect, even after he purchased fancy homes, a 1989 Rolls Royce Silver Spur worth more than $46,000 and a 1999 Porsche 911 valued at over $31,000, among other goodies.
His sentence: three years in prison and restitution.
• Also in June, Karla Sue Lockman of Boyne City was charged with embezzling $675,000 or more from the Northern Preferred Title Company. And talk about covering your tracks: she paid cash for a $262,000 home and for two vehicles worth more than $67,000.
The company was forced to lay off most of its 16 employees. As of last month, Lockman was planning an insanity defense. No kidding.
• In November, Ricky Dean Conway, a former Northern Michigan Education Association treasurer, was accused of embezzling over $40,000. Some of this involved getting cash advances at casinos with the association’s credit cards -- like no one’s ever going to get wise to that...
• In October, Deborah Jean Tuszynski, former finance director for Crossroads, a non-profit that aids the developmentally disabled, turned herself in after it was reported that $20,000 was missing during an audit.
• In March, a postmaster in Cross Village confessed to embezzling $100,000 to support her gambling habit.

And so it goes. East Bay Township Clerk Janice Gee was convicted last week of embezzling $62,000 from taxpayers. She’s one of three past or present township officials who’ve been charged with crimes in office.
Too bad none of those embezzlers (and those who are waiting to get caught) didn’t heed the lesson of the Fouch family, which plundered my old credit union.
It’s a lesson that crime does not pay.
Jay Fouch was seriously injured after shooting himself while fleeing the police. He was sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison and ordered to repay $1,313,000. His former wife, son and daughter-in-law got sentences from three-to-seven years and were ordered to repay amounts ranging from $200,000 to $887,000.
Of course, some might say that crime does pay, once the final tally is taken: Jerome “Jay” Wisniewski, for instance, received only a three year sentence for the dismal crime of ripping off the poor in his role as director of the housing commission. He could have gotten 20 years.
So, would three years in the clink with Michigan‘s most dangerous citizens be worth the risk to you? That, and spending the rest of your life paying back those you stole from? Some clearly feel the risk is worth taking.
Considering all of the bungled embezzling that’s taking place in Northern Michigan these days, perhaps our local colleges should start offering a new major in the art of fleecing your workplace. Embezzlement 101.
College courses in how to establish offshore bank accounts; how to flee to your new home in North Africa; how to change your identity; tips on plastic surgery; or how to make the best of your coming years in prison would sure be helpful to those planning a career in embezzlement.

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