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 · Other Opinions · Power to the people
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Power to the people

John Murray - June 15th, 2006
Are you shocked by the rollercoaster price of gasoline?
Aren’t you glad your electric bill doesn’t change so dramatically for no apparent reason at all?
When you think about it, electricity is probably at least as important to our day-to-day living as gasoline. Maybe even more important.
Try going a couple of hours at home or work without electricity. I doubt that you’ll enjoy the experience. Sure, you could probably live without the TV, at least for a couple of hours. But what about your refrigerator? The lights? How many other gadgets in your home require electricity to operate?
Expanding on this, how would our schools, hospitals and government services operate if electricity weren’t affordable and reliable? One of the greatest modern marvels, the internet, wouldn’t be possible without reliable and affordable electricity.
In Northern Michigan, there are over 200,000 of us who get our electricity from a member-owned electric cooperative. In the Traverse City area, chances are you get your electricity from either Cherryland Electric or Great Lakes Energy.
Both of these organizations are different from most nameless corporate utilities. The beauty of this type of organization is that the “owners” of the utility are the customers, working to serve the needs of the community – not investors on Wall Street.
Each year, the cooperative “owners” elect a board of directors. The cooperative board fulfills an important role – making sure that the cooperative serves the “owners” in the community. The board of directors acts very much like our local school boards or county commissioners. It oversees the delivery of an essential service to our community – electricity.
The board of directors is responsible to make sure that electric rates are fairly set, services are reliable, and that any special needs are met in an equitable fashion. It makes sure that the management of the cooperative is focused on serving the needs of the “owners.”
For most of us in Northern Michigan, we have no choice when it comes to where we get our electric service. If we don’t like our natural gas or telephone services, most of us have alternatives. However, if we don’t like the electric service we’re getting from our electric cooperative, we’re stuck.
This is why it is so important for the “owners” of an electric cooperative to participate in the oversight of their electric utility. The best and easiest way to do this is to vote in your annual board of directors election.
Beyond just getting the cost and service levels right, the board decides how to invest the “owners’” money. Big commitments of “owner” money are required to secure future electric power supplies. Right now, the Cherryland Board of Directors is contemplating very large financial commitments that will drive electricity rates for cooperative “owners” for the next 30 years or longer.
The last time the Cherryland Board of Directors was faced with major supply decisions like this it invested in nuclear power. That investment failed miserably and ended up costing cooperative “owners” well over $150 million dollars over 10 years. Ouch!
The board of directors also can invest the “owners’” money in non-utility activities. At Cherryland, the board invested over $4 million in a cellular telephone business, an internet service provider and alternative heating and cooling ventures. Virtually all of this “owner” money was lost and written off. Ouch!
Getting back to the core mission of the electric cooperative, did you know that residential electric cooperative “owners” in Northern Michigan pay the highest rates for electricity in Michigan? If you have a neighbor who is served by either Traverse City Light & Power or Consumers Energy, compare your electric bills. You’ll notice quite a difference in the cost of electricity. Ouch!
To add insult to injury, did you know that your cooperative board members compensate themselves far more than other cooperatives? Compared to national averages, Northern Michigan directors reward themselves much more than other cooperative Boards around the county. Ouch! (Source data from 2004)
Some board members even voted themselves a special deferred compensation scheme that will reward them for years, even after they are no longer members of the board. Ouch!
Yes, just as in private industry (think of Enron or WorldCom), when an organization’s board isn’t doing its job, the “owners” pay the price.
Sadly, at Cherryland, only about 2% of the “owners” get involved in the election of their board of directors. At Great Lakes Energy, the turnout is even lower. Think about how well our school boards or county commissions would run if only 1% of the “owners” came out to elect leaders. Almost certainly things would be run by a small group of “insiders” who cannot be relied upon to represent the needs of the “owners.” Ouch!
Are you interested in “green power”? Do you want to see your local utility improve service? Do you think that regional power supply solutions could benefit our region? As an “owner” of your local electric cooperative, you can get involved to promote your interests. You can start by voting in your cooperative board of directors elections each year.
Cherryland Electric’s election will be held this year on Thursday, June 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the “owners’” offices in Grawn. Along with having a chance to meet the great folks who work at Cherryland, you’ll be served a nice BBQ dinner. You can meet the board candidates at the meeting and let them know what you want to see happen at your cooperative.
You can also vote by mail-in ballot. Ballots have been distributed in the May edition of Country Lines, the monthly magazine sent to all cooperative “owners.”
For more information on your cooperative, call Cherryland Electric at 231.486.9200 or Great Lakes Energy at 1.888.485.2537.
Think about how important electricity is in your life. Please take a minute to get involved. It’s your cooperative and you don’t want to be shocked!

A resident of Solon Township, John Murray is running for a seat on the Cherryland Electric Board of Directors.
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