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 · Region Watch · NMEAC Rise of the...
. . . .

NMEAC Rise of the Enviro-Rebels- founders look back on 25 years

Robert Downes - October 27th, 2005
   Twenty five years ago, a new force for the  environment arose in Northern Michigan as a puff of wind that has since acquired a hurricane-like power for whipping up public opinion and action in defense of our natural resources.
  NMEAC  -- the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council -- has been involved in virtually every environmental battle in the region over the past generation.  NMEAC has also played midwife to many citizen activist groups through the years, such as the Friends of the Crystal River.  If there‘s a fight brewing in your town over a new development, a big box store, or a sprawl-producing bypass, chances are that members of the 700-strong NMEAC are lending their voices and skills to the outraged citizens.
   This Friday, NMEAC celebrates 25 years of rabble-rousing at the Hagerty Center in Traverse City.  We checked in with executive director Ken Smith and co-founder Sally Van Vleck on how NMEAC got started and where it‘s going.

   Sally Van Vleck is co-founder and owner of the Neahtawanta Center on Old Mission Peninsula, an inn which is involved in bioregional and peace & justice issues.

  NE:  How did NMEAC get started?
   VanVleck:  It really was four women sitting around a kitchen table back in 1980 -- that‘s the myth and that‘s actually the truth.  We were talking about the Big Rock Nuclear Power Plant and some hearings that were coming up on changing the rules of safety.  
  We were concerned about nuclear power, our kids and the environment -- just four friends who got together to express our concerns.  We wanted to raise enough money to hire an expert to speak at a hearing.  We weren‘t intending to start an organization, but we did have an art auction to get donations for the cause. (The other women involved included Judith Comstock, Martha Phillips and Char Goral.)
   NE:  What were you doing at the time?
  VanVleck:  I was raising kids, just being a mom.  In the course of planning this event at the old barns at the Grand Traverse Civic Center which got torn down, people kept asking ‘who are you?‘  My husband at the time was Jim Olson (a prominent environmental attorney), and he said we should call ourselves NMEAC because it had a tie-in with environmental groups on the east and west side of the state: EMEAC and WMEAC.
   We filed papers to become a non-profit, but our auction was not a big money-raiser.  None of us had done anything like this before -- it was all by the seat of our pants.  We had the auction on a Saturday in July when it was 85 degrees out.  But it wasn‘t a total flop because it got our name out and a lot of us bought art and launched NMEAC.

   NE:  Where did you take it from there?
  VanVleck: Fall came and an issue just dropped into our laps over oil-drilling in the Sand Lakes Quiet Area.  We got a lot of petition signatures together which got our name out and a lot more members.
   Then came the plan for a downtown Bayview Mall (planned for along the river in downtown TC in the mid-‘80s) and that meant a big push for membership. We made some enemies on that issue, where it was ultimately determined that the downtown property was public parkland.  My current husband, Bob Russell, was head of NMEAC at the time and led the charge on that one.

   NE:  Have you had any frustrations over NMEAC‘s course through the years?
  VanVleck:  NMEAC never really got the funding thing figured out in terms of operating revenue. No one was ever paid anything -- it‘s mostly all volunteer work.
  What kept NMEAC going was its grass roots appeal.  We never had a paid staff, but then, I think something gets lost in an organization when you get so caught up in seeking grants that you don‘t get the work done.  And not every issue that we‘ve approached is fundable by a foundation. Most aren‘t interested in things like nuclear power.

  NE:  What do you consider NMEAC‘s biggest successes?
  VanVleck:  I think that stopping the Bayview Mall was one of the biggest things for the whole region, but also just the overall awareness of our envirnment spread out in so many different ways.  We raised awareness that our environment wasn‘t going to be there unless people got involved.
   Ken Smith is NMEAC‘s current executive director.  A former GM engineer, he obtained a Ph.D in planning in the 1970s.  Today, he‘s a consultant with Resource for Great Programs, Inc., which does market research for non-profit groups trying to obtain legal aid for the poor.

  NE:  How did you get involved in NMEAC?
   Smith:  I had written some tongue-in-cheek letters railing about some things going on, particularly the proposed bypass of Traverse City.  In 1987 I wrote a forum that talked about all of the things you could buy for the $40 million they were going to spend on the bypass and that included a 10-speed bike for everyone living in the region with enough left over for 40 buses.  Phil Thiel, who was NMEAC‘s director at the time, called me and asked me to get involved.  

   NE:  There was a lot of publicity about NMEAC back in the mid-‘80s.  What was it like back then?
   Smith:  It was a well-meaning and talented group of people, but not very well organized.  We were kind of all over the place and our board was kind of inexperienced at getting things done.
  What I tried to do was make NMEAC more strategic. Rather than being all over the map and protesting one bad thing after another, I tried to focus on specific issues.  For example, it was very clear that sprawl was damaging everything.  We tackled the big drawers of sprawl, such as the huge bypass planned around Traverse City.

   NE:  Some of these things seem to come back again and again every time you think they‘re finished, like the Hammond-Hartmann Bridge.
  Smith:  It‘s like killing a vampire -- nothing is ever really killed because there‘s too much money at stake for the proponents of this project to make them give up and say, we made a mistake and we‘re done.  But we got the attention of the establishment of this area that there is a problem with the bypass.  The county has appointed a group to oversee the visioning and planning effort and we‘re part of it - it‘s really a good step.

  NE: Where do you see NMEAC 25 years from now?
  Smith: I see two things. One is that we‘ll continue to do what we‘ve found to be most effective over the last 25 years.  We helped launch at least a dozen activist groups through the years and we‘ll continue to support other groups and get people involved in the issues.  We‘ll capture citizen outrage and provide channels for it.
   We‘re also building a litigation fund -- an endowment that will give us a huge capacity to file strategic lawsuits here that will be really effective.  We‘ve found it can be very effective to sue a public body when it‘s not doing its job.  We sued Cone Drive and the DEQ and ended 30 years of contaminating Boardman Lake.  They were just trading paper back and forth for 30 years until we filed a lawsuit.  
   I don‘t think it will take a huge amount of money in our endowment to send the DEQ, DNR, EPA, county prosecutor and developers a message that if they aren‘t doing their jobs right, we‘ll sue them.
   NMEAC celebrates its 25th anniversary Friday, Oct. 28  from 6-9 p.m. at the Hagerty Center in TC (Great Lakes Maritime Academy)  for a $20 donation -- $10 for students and seniors.  Info: www.NMEAC.org

  Major NMEAC Actions 1980-2005:
  • Defense of Sand Lakes Quiet Area
  • Monitoring Big Rock Nuclear Power Plant
  • Launched oil recyling & acid rain programs
  • Launched Friends of Crystal River to stop a proposed golf course on the river and a land swap
  • Opposition to development of North Fox and       South Fox islands.
  • Opposition to TC Bypass & Hammond-Hartmann Bridge
  • Lawsuit ended pollution of Boardman Lake.
  • Defeat of proposed Bayview Mall.  Opposition to GT Mall and Horizon Outlet Center.
  • Guidance of many local groups: Friends of Elmwood Twp, Friends of the Jordan & Boardman River Valleys, Concerned Citizens for Acme, East Bay and Arbutus Lake, Coalition for Sensible Growth & more.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5