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 · Books · Signal achievement ... Anne-Marie...
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Signal achievement ... Anne-Marie Oomen

Robert Downes - March 1st, 2007
Anne-Marie Oomen is one of those irresistible writers whose work always packs a surprise. A poet and a playwright with the easyAA warmth that comes from a country upbringing, she weaves an endlessly inventive orbit, enveloping the sphere of life in rural Northern Michigan.
Her latest work is “Uncoded Woman,” a collection of more than 60 poems. The poems tell the story of a young woman named Bead, who is “running away from her life in a stolen pickup.”
Bead (short for Beatrice) seems to be seeking shelter from the storm of her life with a new beginning along the coast of Lake Michigan. She picks up a Native American hitch-hiker named Barn and accepts his invitation to stay at his trailer in the Glen Arbor area (we know because they have “charred burgers at Art’s Bar”). Under her new friend’s guidance, Bead renews her life, learning to fish on Lake Michigan.
Accompanying each poem is a semaphore message from the maritime “International Code of Symbols” used to signal ships at sea in the days before radio. Bead stumbles across the codebook at the lifesaving station in Glen Haven in Leelanau County and recognizes its blunt signals as metaphors for the perplexities of her own life. When she discovers a body floating in the lake, the cumulative codes help build a sense of drama and suspense in the reader’s mind. The mystery forces Bead to face her own demons. How will she decode her own life?

“I hope I managed to make the metaphors linked to the water and the land and what’s a safe harbor,” Oomen says of the evocative codes which title each poem (see sidebar).
Like her protagonist, Oomen discovered the “International Code of Symbols” in the form of a worn old book at the Glen Haven Lifesaving Station, which is now a museum and historical site maintained by the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.
“I found these pennants at the old Lifesaving Station and the colors were so vivid,” she recalls. “I learned that the letters of each pennant made a code used as signals on ships.”
She was inspired to use the codebook as a sort of codicil to her poems. Each code (ie. “B: I Am Discharging Dangerous Goods”) offers a clue or supplementary meaning to its attendant poem.
One poem, for instance, “GZ 1: All Persons Lost,” tells the story of a graveside visit to a woman who was buried in 1907 without any acknowledgment that she was the mother of a doctor’s three children. Apparently an unmarried mistress, some blend of shame or defiance kept her grave at a distance from her lover’s and her children; hence “All Persons Lost.”

Anne-Marie Oomen was raised as one of five children on a 200-acre farm in Oceana County, an experience which still provides a wellspring of inspiration for her work. Her memoir, “Pulling Down the Barn: Memories of a Rural Childhood,” earned a Michigan Notable Book Award in 2005, as did her latest work, “House of Fields: Memories of a Rural Education.”
“I grew up on a farm with humble beginnings and I was very much a reader and what I call a scribbler,” she says.
Coming of age in the ‘60s, she majored in “group social studies” at what was then Grand Valley College, a hodge-podge of liberal arts disciplines including sociology, anthropology, philosophy. A minor in English led her to a teaching certificate and then a Masters degree from Western Michigan University.
There were subsequent teaching posts in Elk Rapids and Chicago and a growing realization that she wanted to exercise her talents as a writer.
“When I moved back to Northern Michigan, I was already writing quite a bit and I began to take it seriously,” she says. “Like many people, you dream about writing and you dabble until something serious happens in your life that makes it more important to you.”
For Oomen, that turning point came with the end of her first marriage in 1985. She began writing plays and poetry for publication and got more involved in the local writing community. Her efforts bore fruit in 1997 when she was accepted as a writer-in-residence for a two-year period at Interlochen Arts Academy (she launched the Dunes Review literary magazine the same year). Then came an offer to chair the school’s writing department, which includes notable authors Mike Delp and Jack Driscoll. “It was an amazing transition,” she says.

Through the years, Oomen has explored the mysteries and richness of rural culture -- a world which is increasingly lost to us or rapidly dwindling away. In addition to six published books, she has written as many plays, including works of children’s theatre.
Perhaps her most memorable play is “Wives of An American King,” about the Morman polygamist, King Strang, who was infamous for his harem on Beaver Island in the early 1800s. Oomen told Strang’s story from the wives’ perspective, offering a feminist insight into an old tale.
In addition to her rural themes, Oomen says she’s always been interested in writing about everyday people and their issues. Her character, Bead, for instance was inspired by some of the women she met at a fruit canning plant in Oceana County many years ago.
“As I’ve become more socially-conscious, I’ve both met more women like her and remember women from my childhood,” she says. “I worked in a canning factory on the third shift right out of high school with women from a lot of different backgrounds. Some were mothers, migrants, locals and runaways. So, a character like Bead comes from an amalgamation of those two forces.”

Married to math teacher David Early and stepmom to son Theo, there are a number of creative projects on Oomen’s horizon. There’s the possibility of adapting her work as screenplays for films, for instance. And she’s also interested in tackling a novel, possibly on the environment and the impact of its changing nature on peoples’ lives. She’d also like to publish a collection of travel essays, and has at least four additional plays in mind.
“I’ve got notes for so many more plays I want to write, but they take so much time,” she says. And of course, her day job teaching creative writing at Interlochen keeps her busy.
But with all those ideas percolating and a stick-to-it farmer’s work ethic to keep her pen in motion, fans of Anne-Marie Oomen can rest assured that they’ll be served with many more works of thoughtful integrity in the years to come.

Semaphore Flag Symbols

Prior to the invention of the radio, sailors used pennants (flags) to signal other boats at sea. Each pennant represented a number or letter which could be deciphered using the International Code of Symbols. Anne-Marie Oomen’s new book, “Uncoded Woman,” uses the following codes as titles for her poems:

NE: You should proceed with great caution
LN 1: All lights are out on this coast
QD: I am going ahead
LN: Light has been extinguished
D: Keep clear of me; I am maneuvering with difficulty
ST: What is your cargo?
HM 1: Survivors are in bad condition
JB: There is danger of explosion
EP: I have lost sight of you
GM: I cannot save my vessel

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