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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Sandra Serra Bradshaw - June 15th, 2006
Beautiful Grand Traverse Bay draws many of us to this region. Yet, the bay’s ecosystem is changing because of population growth and development. Monitoring these changes has become increasingly important and the summer of 2006 will prove no exception.
“In ten years Grand Traverse Bay will not even be recognizable,” said Robert “Bobby” F. Kennedy Jr., president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, in an interview a few years ago for the Northern Express. Those words stung. Locally, growth brings with it man-made necessities including concrete, blacktop, roofing, fertilizer - each contributing to contaminants and pollutants flowing from the watershed into the bay. 
The need for waterkeepers to protect America’s waterways was first mentioned in a book by Robert H. Boyle in 1969 about the Hudson River’s contamination. The first riverkeeper, John Cronin, was established on the Hudson in 1983. Kennedy joined the group in 1984, which eventually grew into the present-day Waterkeeper Alliance, active in over 130 locations around the world. 
The Watershed Center of Grand Traverse Bay appointed baykeeper John Nelson in 2002 when the center joined the Waterkeeper Alliance. Nelson oversees 973 square miles of watershed in Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Antrim and Kalkaska counties, along with portions of Otsego and Charlevoix counties. Included are nine major drainage basins: Elk River Chain of Lakes, the Boardman River, Mitchell Creek, Acme Creek, Ptebego Creek, Yuba Creek, the East Bay shoreline, the West Bay shoreline and Old Mission Peninsula.

Nelson, an Annapolis Naval Academy graduate and retired science teacher, is passionate about protecting the bay.
“I grew up here. It is hurtful for me to see the natural environment being harmed,” he said.  “One issue that is of deep concern is the increasing algae along the near shore beaches. From 1991-1998 the algae beds - called macrophyte beds – have doubled in number. A lot of this is due to use of fertilizers.
“If you get up in an airplane for an aerial view - it’s not very pretty,” Nelson continued.
“The many shopping malls -- all the pavement -- are adding to the problem. Take Mitchell Creek and Kids Creek - they have been compromised by the growth and are just a few miles from the bay. All the sediment flows right into it. Stream management is becoming a huge issue.
“The more impervious structures we make, the more sediment and nutrient run-off end up in the bay. All of that sediment - a nutrient overload - raises the temperature of what were once cold- water streams that were great for fishing. Look what happens. Now the temperature has been raised and there are far fewer fish. Mitchell and Kids Creek were once popular places to fish – not any more,
“Wastewater is another big concern, and Suttons Bay is a perfect example. Its population has doubled in size and its wastewater - rather than a periodic discharge - continuously discharges right into the bay, as will the new one (water treatment plant) being built. The bay will suffer. For one-and-a-half million dollars more (of the $4.2 million budget), this could be remedied. Look at the bay - is that not worth it?”

Traverse City area residents took a different approach to protect West Grand Traverse Bay. The city’s Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant serves over 45,000 persons in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties. 
“It was a $31 million project to address plant capacity as well as quality effluent discharge,” said the treatment plant project manager Scott Blair, who works under Operations Management International based in Denver. Instead of a second-best effort, Blair notes that the community constructed a plant that offers the cleanest possible discharge of treated water back into the bay.
Water clarity in the bay is another issue that has come under scrutiny. While many think clear water is advantageous - it is not. Zebra mussels (which filter water to a crystal clarity) have destroyed many of the tiny organisms that feed many fish in the bay.
Other species are also a problem.
“Exotic species, such as Quagga mussels seem to be getting the most attention now,” said Tom Kelly, director of the Inland Seas Education Association in Suttons Bay.
“The Quagga mussels seem to have replaced the Zebra mussels. They are more aggressive because they are able to use a wider area for habitation such as clinging to the sand rather than just hard objects as Zebra mussels do,” said Kelly. 
Quagga mussels were first discovered in 1991 in Lake Ontario, having been transported in (freighters) ballast water from Eurasia.  Zebra mussels, also from Eurasia by the same method of transport, were first identified in1988 in Lake St. Clair.

Another problem besides the exotics is the lower water levels. Though higher than the last few years’ record low’s, shorelines have changed, and where waterfront owners once had sandy beaches, now many are concerned with the new vegetative growth building up.  This growth, however, acts as a protection to help keep sediment from entering into the bay.
Leaving this vegetative shoreline has become a political issue with many waterfront owners - here and throughout the state - by the Save Our Shoreline association (SOS).  Members of the group wish to be able to remove the plant growth and restore their beaches, despite a DEQ ruling that shore grooming is illegal. 
So, if the bay is clean, why worry about it?
Anne Brasie, executive director of The Watershed Center, hears that question often and has a response.
“It’s true, according to the numbers everything is still within state guidelines, but you have to remember that our bay is already cleaner than many of the waters of the state that these guidelines are based on,” Brasie said. “Do we really want to only meet those numbers? We are seeing subtle and not so subtle changes to the ecosystem. The increase in algae washing up on our beaches is a good example. None of us knows which day in the influx of nutrients or toxic chemicals will tip the scale into the unhealthy zone. Aren’t we better off staying as far away from that possibility as we can?”
She adds that she and Nelson attend the national Waterkeeper Alliance meetings each year to represent Grand Traverse Bay and the waters of Lake Michigan. “We spend five days surrounded by some of the most inspired and talented people out there - all working to keep our waters clean.
“We get to look out at that bay and enjoy all our wonderful lakes and streams and know that we do one of the best jobs around. How can you find a cause more relevant to our quality of life in this region? The health of our economy is so dependent on the health of our natural resources.”

The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay is located at 232 E. Front Street Traverse City, MI 49684 231-935-1514 (ph); 231-935-3829 (fax). Internet:

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