Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

Home · Articles · News · Region Watch · Ross Child‘s Report
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Ross Child‘s Report

Anne Stanton - July 27th, 2006
As promised, Ross Childs has submitted a huge report—a book really—in the hopes of taming the aggressive and “biased” reporting of the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Childs, who spent 25 years as top gun of the Grand Traverse County government, mailed the report over the Fourth of July weekend to Peter Kann, chairman of the board of Dow Jones & Company, which owns Ottaway Newspapers, which owns the Record-Eagle.
He said he hasn’t received a response yet.
Childs said he prepared the report out of his belief that the town needs a “credible” paper. He alleges that it’s hard to tell the difference between the Record-Eagle’s straight news reporting and the editorials—claiming that both have such a strong point of view. He also dislikes that the paper repeats the same negative news in follow-up stories and editorials.
“My wife said we live in one of the best cities, and if you read our paper, you’d think we lived in one of the worst.”
The newspaper is inarguably more aggressive under editor Bill Thomas. It has run critical front-page stories that range from a Northwestern Michigan College program that drained $1 million from college coffers each year to several articles on state Sen. Jason
Allen, who is vying to become the next senate majority leader. A major story was about the $8 million septage processing plant that partly collapsed 30 days after it was built.
Childs is in many ways connected to these stories, either as a friend to those whose judgment is questioned, or directly—he sits on the board of Northwestern Michigan College and works as a consultant on how to resolve the Grand Traverse County septage plant dilemma.
Editor Bill Thomas said the newspaper is simply doing the job newspapers are supposed to do—reporting about the abuses of public office and protecting taxpayers. He said that complete strangers have emailed him and stopped him on the street, saying, “Keep it up.”
“We have had a great response,” Thomas said. “Carol (his wife) and I were shopping at a store, and the shopkeeper recognized me and said, ‘We’re with you Bill.’ I walked outside to this 4-H stand and the woman there said, ‘You’re Bill Thomas aren’t you? Keep it up!’ It’s just been very, very heartening. These are the people we write for, the people we publish this newspaper for, not the people who are dedicated to secrecy.”
The newspaper is apparently not backing down, having just run another critical story on State Senator Jason Allen.
Childs said that about 250 individuals contacted him and helped him collect 875 signatures (still more are coming in). Those signatures along with 30 letters of complaints and in-depth analyses of eight articles were indexed and shipped off to Peter Kann.
Petition signers have come from the six-county area: Antrim, Benzie, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Kalkaska.
“It started out as a small thing. I thought I’d do four or five articles and get half a dozen letters. What made this change was when your [June 22nd Northern Express’] article came out,” Childs said.
Ann Reed, publisher since May 22, pointed out that 875 signatures out the paper’s readership of 100,000 is not a large percentage.
“It hasn’t hurt our circulation,” Reed said. “Our circulation is dead even with last year, which for the newspaper business is a very good thing. The website viewership is growing by leaps and bounds; 30 percent year after year. And we have not noticed any impact on advertising sales”
Still, Reed does not want to get into a slugfest with Childs and his group of supporters.
“It doesn’t serve the community very well. I want us to continue to report the news, to be fair and accurate, and to not hold back. We also need to restore good civil relationships with each other.”
Since Childs began this project, rumors have been flying. Childs acknowledged that he has been meeting and talking with former Record-Eagle reporters, but denied that he has talked to local auto dealers about pulling their ads and putting them into the Grand Rapids Press.
What about the rumor of looking for a new buyer for the paper?
Childs said that he has formed a group that has outlined some options if the Record-Eagle won’t budge. He declined to elaborate on those options until he hears back from Dow Chairman Peter Kann.
“Our first purpose is to try to bring it back to credibility,“ Childs said. “Some even and fair reporting. If we can’t get it done with the Record-Eagle, we have to look at other newspapers... I have researched the business of publishing and it’s been an enlightening experience. I’ve learned a lot about the Record-Eagle and where some of the dissatisfaction is... Newspapers might not be a very good investment in their present format. You look at the annual reports from Dow Jones and Dow Jones has been divesting themselves from their local papers over the years. A lot of [newspaper] advertising has gone to the Internet. People are saying, Internet is the new thing.
“The paper I would love to get here is the Grand Rapids Press,” Childs said. “They’re a good paper. I get it periodically.”
Yet the word on the street is that the Grand Rapids Press is discontinuing its circulation north of Cadillac. The paper’s publisher Dan Gaydou hedged his answer about the paper’s plans: “We are always evaluating our routes. I can’t tell you for a fact [that we’re discontinuing delivery in Northern Michigan], but I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Gaydou said that Childs has not contacted him.
Childs said his effort to change the newspaper has nothing to do with the yes-vote effort on the controversial Traverse City parking deck, which he supports.
Last question: What about mediation?
“I haven’t really considered it, but that wouldn’t be ruled out. I think mediation is a great idea,” Childs said.
Said Reed: “I really can’t comment one way or another and partly because I haven’t seen the petition or the specific issues he has problems with. Once I have a better understanding, we can make a good judgment of where we go from here. I will say, it’s important that we all heal as a result of this. I don’t think we can continue on the way we are.”

Bus Bliss
It sure was controversial when it was first proposed, but at last Friday‘s dedication of the new bus Transit Center on Hall Street in downtown TC it was smiles & high-fives all around for mass transit in the region.
The Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA) celebrated by inviting the public to ride its buses for free all day with prize drawings, hot dogs and refreshments at the new station.
The new BATA Transit Center makes possible expanded bus service with scheduled stops throughout the Grand Traverse area – including service for Leelanau County. The Transit Center offers restrooms, comfortable seating and will be staffed during service hours. Free wireless Internet access will soon be available. Long distance commercial bus service is now available.
“This facility represents a giant step forward in addressing the need for viable public transportation in our area,” said BATA Executive Director Joe DeKoning. “Having a permanent transfer point greatly expands our capacity to deliver dependable, comfortable and convenient service.”

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