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 · Features · Segway spins its wheels
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Segway spins its wheels

Katie Huston - August 30th, 2007
“I got hooked on Segways because of the joy of the glide,” Kathleen Russell says. “It’s always fun to share that with others.”
Russell is the owner of Segway by KAR in downtown Traverse City, where she sells and rents the self-balancing, two-wheeled machines. She stands on a Segway and zips around a pole with ease as I wonder, “How does it stay up?”
As though reading my thoughts, she shows me a flashing diamond of green lights on the platform. “That shows that the gyroscopes are reading the platform 100 times a minute,” she explains.
She opened Segway by KAR in August 2006. The dealership serves 15 counties in Michigan and two in Ohio, and offers six models, which range in price from $5,145 to $5,645. Accessories like golf bags and backpacks are also available.
Segways are entirely electricity-powered and can travel 20 miles on a charge, which uses approximately 10 cents worth of electricity. They emit 14 times less greenhouse gas than the average American car, and 20 times less than a large SUV.

It’s a trust thing, she explains as she demonstrates. And it’s simple. To go forward, you lean forward; to stop, you can lean back or stick out your bum. “I have my toes down as though I’m pressing them into warm sand,” she says.
The machine has a maximum speed of 12.5 miles an hour. In Michigan, it’s classified as a “personal assistive mobility device,” which means it can be operated on sidewalks, bike paths, and streets with speed limits of 25 or less. Half of the trips Americans take are less than five miles and transport a single passenger--trips that could be made on a Segway.
Before long, I’m swooping around the pole too. “This is fun!” I exclaim, giggling.
“And that’s what we call the Segway smile,” Russell says.
After 10 minutes of practice, we’re off. Everywhere we go, people are looking at us and waving. “If you’re in an introverted mood, go somewhere where you’ll be by yourself,” she laughs. “You’ll spend a lot of time showing it off.”
We meet an older man behind the city’s Maritime Academy, and Russell lets him give it a try. “Look at me! I’m a pioneer, just like the Wright Brothers!” he cries as we Segway together to the end of the pier. “First in flight!”

Russell first encountered a Segway in February 2006. Ten years ago, at 39, she was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s Disease, which impacts the nervous system and impairs motor skills and speech for many people.
Last year she attended a Parkinson’s Action Network conference in Washington, D.C. “One of my colleagues glided in on a Segway, and I just couldn’t take my eyes off it,” Russell said.
Before she got Parkinson’s, Russell was extremely active; she played basketball and softball for Penn State in the ’70s and used to bike from Toledo, Ohio to Traverse City.
“I was used to being able to do things like climb two fourteeners in a weekend,” she said, referring to the 14,000-foot-high mountains in Colorado. “Getting on the Segway was kind of like a return to that sense of mobility for me.”
“I’m a guy who works with words, and I can’t come up with the right word to describe it,” says Paul Heaton of TC, who rented Segways with visiting family members to take a tour along the Bayfront. “It’s an invigorating experience, because the technology is so fascinating and the simplicity is impressive.”

Russell stresses a Segway’s role as “a tool for mobility.” Segways are great for people with injuries or prostheses, and for people who simply can’t move as much as they used to. Of the 85,000 people living in Grand Traverse County, she tells me, nearly 12,000 are disabled--over 14 percent.
Roen Tharp of TC has been paralyzed on the left side since he had polio in 1951. He uses a Segseat, an accessory that’s not unlike a bicycle seat, which allows him to both stand and sit. “It’s nice because you can use it on the trails. If you’re not able to walk that far, it helps a lot,” he says.
Tharp doesn’t own a Segway yet, but he hopes to buy a used one. “I think if people are used to being able to do things, and can’t as much as they used to, they should check it out,” he says.
Russell has heard people complain that Segways will make us all fat and lazy. However, she says, it’s unfair to presume that you can judge another person’s ability to walk. And she’s not trying to discourage people from biking or walking.
“We call it Segway by KAR because K.A.R. is my initials, but it’s also to say goodbye to cars,” she says. “We don’t want to replace bicyclists, we don’t want to replace walkers,” says Russell. “Part of my joy in Segwaying is the out-of-doors.”

Segways are also great for family outings and tours, Russell says. “It allows grandparents to be really cool. It’s been a pleasure to see family reunions.”
Susan Close of TC surprised her husband with a family Father’s Day glide around the city with their kids, ages 12 and 14. “All of us just had these big grins on our face once we started riding them. Within five minutes we had the hang of it. It’s just a feeling of freedom,” she says. “My kids just zip around like it’s part of their body. We call it pod-racing because it reminds us of Anakin Skywalker.”
Segways also have many practical applications for security and business. They can be used in airports, in large warehouses, and for hospital security.
The TC police department has purchased one, which they use downtown. “They’re able to patrol all day for under 10 cents,” Russell says. “They’re eight inches taller, and they’re able to see above the crowd.” The Chicago Police Department has a fleet of 50.
Northern Michigan College received a Segway through an anonymous donation, which has been used by security, in classes, and as part of the energy demonstration center. “It’s a great resource for us,” says Heaton, the NMC director of public relations. “It has made our campus safety officers more visible and accessible.”

Although she hopes Segways can enhance mobility and create family fun, Russell also hopes that for the young and able-bodied, Segways will spark creativity and entrepreneurship. “It’s my hope that some people will decide to be a scientist or inventor,” she says.
“Sometimes I think I should’ve stopped at one Segway, but it’s been quite a moving adventure,” she says, laughing and adding, “pun intended.”
Segway by KAR is located at 130 Hall St. in TC. A lesson is $5 and goes towards the price of a tour, which is
$75. After taking a tour, a 24-hour rental costs $150. For more information,
call (231) 922-0KAR (0527) or visit

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