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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Gas Prices

U. S. Rep. Bart Stupak - May 11th, 2006
After eight months of stonewalling, after gas prices broke $3 a gallon, after crude oil reached nearly $75 a barrel and after 129 Democrats signed a discharge petition demanding action on my gas price gouging legislation, Republicans have finally been shamed into taking up a gas price gouging bill.
As the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, I have been calling for hearings on gas price gouging for over eight months. For eight months, I have been asking for consideration of my legislation, the Federal Response to Energy Emergencies Act, which is designed to crack down on gas price gouging.
For eight months, Republicans in Congress have stonewalled. Up until today, Republicans have simply put forth shallow imitations of Democratic ideas and returned to their old standby: drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
My legislation, the Federal Response to Energy Emergencies (FREE) Act, would instruct the Federal Trade Commission to develop a legal definition of gas price gouging. (Last week, the House of Representatives moved forward on gas-gouging legislation based on concepts found in Rep. Stupak‘s proposed act. -- ed.)
Most people are shocked to find out that there are no federal laws against gas price gouging. Therefore, the Federal Trade Commission has never brought a gas price gouging case to court.
Why is this? Because there is no definition of gas price gouging.
Well, even if the President and congressional Republicans don’t know how to define gas price gouging, consumers know it when they see it. Gas costs 70 cents more per gallon right now than it did at this time last year. Profits for refineries went up 250% between September 2004 and September 2005.
During the first quarter of this year, the largest refinery, Valero, saw a 60% profit increase. That’s gouging, and, while it happens, congressional Republicans are turning a blind eye.
In contrast, 125 House Democrats have signed a discharge petition, demanding that my bill be brought to the floor. More are adding their names each day.
These Members are tired of the Republican stonewalling. They want action on a real gas price gouging bill with teeth, not a watered down imitation.
Just as we need to address gouging, Congress should also take a look at the way oil futures are bought and sold.
Seventy-five percent of the multi-billion dollar oil futures industry is completely unregulated, without transparency or oversight by the federal government or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
This is Enron all over again. Without federal oversight, there is no way to ensure these futures traders are not manipulating the market to drive up the price of oil.
I have introduced the PUMP Act, or the Prevent Unfair Manipulation of Prices Act.
This bill would require all futures traders to play by the same rules - ending the speculation, fear and greed that drive today’s oil prices. It has been estimated that stopping this speculation could reduce the price of a barrel of oil by as much as $20, providing consumers with immediate relief.
These are the kind of ideas that we should be promoting to provide consumers immediate relief.
But, instead, Republicans retreat to the same refrain: drill in the Arctic National Wildlife and provide big tax breaks to big oil. You don’t drill your way to energy independence. Tax breaks for the President’s big oil friends don’t result in lower gas prices.
It is time for a real energy policy that alleviates consumers’ pain at the pump today and begins to address this country’s long term energy challenges.

Hold oil companies accountable

By U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow

Oil companies continue to post record profits on the backs of Michigan families. High gas prices are killing our jobs in Michigan and take a huge bite out of family budgets. I have proposed action to hold oil companies accountable for their outrageous prices and provide immediate relief for consumers.
The numbers are staggering: Gas prices in Michigan currently average $2.89 a gallon, and are as high as $3.10 in some areas. And it‘s only going to get worse over the summer months.
The fact is, Michigan families are going to spend an extra $500 this year on gasoline. For a working family, that‘s a house payment, a month of groceries, or a semester of college textbooks.
High energy costs have a negative impact on Michigan‘s economy. Higher fuel costs lead to increased costs for our manufacturers, putting jobs at risk. According to General Motors executives, every $1 increase in the price of a barrel of oil adds $4 million to GM‘s logistics costs.
Gas prices have a negative affect on tourism and recreation, a driving force in Michigan‘s economy. Families are planning shorter trips, or canceling vacations altogether.
As we dig deeper into our pockets to keep up with gas prices, the oil companies are making record-breaking profits. Exxon/Mobil recently reported an annual profit of $36 billion, the largest profit ever recorded for any company in U.S. corporate history.
Meanwhile, Exxon CEO Lee Raymond draws a salary of $69.7 million. That breaks down to nearly $110,000 every day. He makes more in one day than most people in Michigan make in a year! And to add insult to injury, when Mr. Raymond announced his retirement, Exxon gave him a $400 million retirement package-one of the most generous in history.
This situation is outrageous, and we need to take immediate action, both to provide short-term relief, and to develop long-term solutions.
I have introduced the Oil Company Accountability Act to close current tax loopholes that give the oil companies $5 billion in new tax breaks. My bill would put that money right back into the pockets of consumers, through a one-time, immediate $500 tax rebate for families. If Congress acts fast and passes my legislation, Americans could receive these checks by Labor Day.
But short-term solutions aren‘t enough. We need to look down the road and reduce our nation‘s dependence on foreign oil. The best way to do this for Michigan and the country, is through the development of homegrown renewable fuels, such as soy-based biodiesel and ethanol, made with corn and sugar beet byproducts.
The biofuels industry can create good jobs in Michigan, bring fuel prices down, protect the environment, and help local farmers create new markets. Our state will have five ethanol plants up and running by the end of the year. And last September, Biodiesel Industries announced that it will be building a three million gallon-per-year biodiesel production facility near Detroit.
If we act boldly and quickly, we can buy our fuel from middle America instead of the Middle East.
In the meantime, let‘s hold the oil companies accountable and give some relief to people paying the bill.

$25 gas giveaway in TC:
Hoping to hold the line on tourism this summer, the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau is offering a $25 Speedway gas card to anyone who books a stay of four nights or more at any of 43 participating hotels, motels or resorts.
The “Pump Up Your Summer“ program‘s goal is to minimize any negative effect that higher gas prices might have on summer tourism, said Bureau President Brad Van Dommelen.
“It’s not just about us,” said Van Dommelen. “If this program brings more people to our community, that’s wonderful. It’s what we want. But I believe promotions like this can help people put into some perspective the portion of their vacation expense that actually goes to transportation. This additional cost shouldn’t keep them from enjoying the great things Michigan has to offer.”
For a visitor who makes a 500-mile round trip to Traverse City in a car that averages 20 miles per gallon, the card should reduce the impact of gas costs from $3 per gallon to $2 per gallon, said Van Dommelen.
The Bureau has installed a toll-free reservation line (1-800-714-0051) and a web page (www.pumpupyoursummer.com) to help popularize the plan.
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