Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Books · A Passionate Moderate
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A Passionate Moderate

Rick Coates - April 20th, 2006
It has been 24 years since Traverse City’s William G. Milliken walked the halls of the Capitol building in Lansing in an official capacity. As Michigan’s longest serving governor (14 years between 1969 and 1982), his legacy is now the subject of a new biography written by author and environmental expert Dave Dempsey.
Dempsey will appear at the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council’s (NMEAC)17th Annual Environmentalist of the Year Celebration, Friday, April 21 at the Waterfront Conference Center in Traverse City. Milliken and his wife Helen will be honored for their many contributions to the environment. Dempsey will speak about those contributions and read excerpts from his book.
Dempsey’s book “William G. Milliken: Michigan’s Passionate Moderate,” details Milliken’s life as a war hero in WWII (Milliken’s war experience included 50 combat missions on a B-24 and being wounded over Vienna, Austria, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart) and his public contributions both pre- and post- governor years.
Dempsey was surprised that a biography had not been written before his.
“During conversations in the late 1990s on another book I was writing, I interviewed Milliken and discussed the biography concept with him. At that time someone else was writing one but that fell through so I jumped at the chance,” said Dempsey (who spent three years researching and writing the biography).
“Besides the obvious reason of Milliken being the state’s longest serving governor I felt that his contributions protecting the environment and the Great Lakes were well ahead of their time and that his life and contributions should be examined and documented.” 
Dempsey hopes that this book will serve more than just a recollection of Milliken’s contributions, who in 1978 was selected the nations most influential governor by his fellow governors.
“I hope the reader will go beyond the nostalgia and look at the possibilities of a return to Milliken’s type of governance,” said Dempsey. “There is much to be learned by the Milliken years. He governed with such civility and compromise that he was able to accomplish so much. It is an example that today’s generation and political leaders may learn from and also strive to achieve. There is so much gridlock today that one must wonder if the public’s best interest is being served.”
Milliken, his family, colleagues and friends, cooperated with Dempsey, who also pointed to “mistakes in judgment,” in some of the governor’s policies.
“No life is perfect and certainly no administration is without its faults. I wanted to be careful not to paint this picture of total perfection,” said Dempsey, whose father served as an advisor and confidant to Milliken. “Milliken, though, is the only elected official that I know who has admitted to errors and worked hard to correct them after out of office. In particular, his position on a life without parole for drug dealers that ended up targeting users and drug runners versus drug kingpins. He lobbied extensively after office to change this.”
There were several things that impressed Dempsey about Milliken’s life, including the former governor’s military service (a humble Milliken never campaigned on his military record or war hero status) and his relationship with his wife Helen.
“There could easily be and there definitely should be a biography on Helen Miliken’s life,” said Dempsey. “There is no question she played a major role in shaping the Milliken legacy and played important parts on several pieces of legislation.”
Dempsey said their relationship and marriage was a strong one and the couple practically saw eye-to-eye on most issues. 
“Their strong relationship allowed for Mrs. Milliken to be on the front lawn of the Capitol protesting for women’s rights while her husband was inside at work,” said Dempsey. “One big-money Republican once even asked the governor to quiet Mrs. Milliken. But that was not his way. He valued her thoughts and input.”
The book details the numerous environmental contributions Milliken made, including the bottle bill (10 cent bottle/can deposit).
“He took a political risk with this one as the legislature had voted it down,” said Dempsey. “But the Millikens together championed a referendum that led to it becoming law. He also stood up to major Republican donor Jay VanAndel (of Amway) on the phosphorus content of laundry detergent.”
Dempsey said Milliken had a way about him that politicians today don’t have.
“He was respected by both sides of the aisle,” said Dempsey. “He forged a friendship with Detroit’s Mayor Coleman Young that led to many cultural and economic benefits for both Detroit and the state.”
As for Milliken not pursuing a political life on a national level, Dempsey said the governor never cared much for Washington DC. As for Milliken’s relationship with the first President Bush, Dempsey said that had soured before Bush became president.
“Milliken was upset with comments Bush made while campaigning for president about the ACLU. He wrote the senior Bush expressing his dissatisfaction and letting him know that he was a card-carrying member of the ACLU,” said Dempsey. “I not sure if they ever spoke after that.”
 While Milliken didn’t consider cabinet positions or ambassadorships, he remained very active after leaving office.
“He served on numerous corporate boards, non-profit foundations and lent his name to several causes,” said Dempsey. “It often is said that Jimmy Carter was our best out of office president for his post presidential contributions; I think the same can be said about Milliken. He is definitely been the best and most active governor we have had after he leaving office.”
After the NMEAC dinner on April 21, Dempsey will return on May 16 for a public reception to honor the Milliken’s and a book signing at the Hagerty Center in Traverse City. To learn more about the NMEAC dinner to honor the Millikens visit www.nmeac.org or call 231.946.6931.

Editors note: The Northern Express will have a detailed interview with the Milliken’s in our May 11 issue. 
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