Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Gunfire on the Great Lakes

Rep. Bart Stupak - November 30th, 2006
Earlier this month, at my prompting, the Coast Guard held a public meeting in Charlevoix to discuss its proposal to
establish 34 live gunfire training zones on our Great Lakes. The Charlevoix meeting brought to my attention a number of
reservations held by my constituents. While I recognize the importance of ensuring adequate training for Coast Guard personnel, these concerns should be addressed before this new proposal is adopted.
The Coast Guard’s initial plan to notify the public
via marine band radio and the federal register, demonstrates a bureaucratic mindset that is out of touch with the boating public. For many boaters, marine band radio is not their primary source of nautical information
and few people read the federal register.
To address this problem, I worked to include a provision in this year’s Homeland Security Appropriations bill that requires the Coast Guard put the word out by notifying harbormasters and local media of upcoming live fire exercises. While this minimal requirement is a step in the right direction, it is disconcerting that it required an act of Congress for the Coast Guard to provide adequate public notification.
Beyond notification, I am concerned that these zones are located in high traffic areas and will affect boating, fishing, and other activities on the Great Lakes. One of the zones covers part of the route used by the Beaver Island Ferry. Requiring the Beaver Island Ferry, as well as other boat traffic, to divert their course could increase fuel costs and travel time, possibly increase ticket prices and even reduce tourism to Beaver Island. Placing live fire zones in other heavily trafficked areas will also further endanger commercial and recreational mariners.
There are also environmental concerns. The training exercises will result in 7,000 pounds of lead being dumped into our Great Lakes each year. That is more lead than the entire state of Michigan and all of its industries and pollution sources emit to surface waters every year. The Coast Guard should conduct additional studies on the consequences of significantly increasing the amount of lead in the Great Lakes before moving forward.
We should also examine using
“green ammunition,” which is an environmentally friendly alternative to lead bullets. The environmental effects of the Coast Guard’s plan might be mitigated if the Coast Guard used this substitute to lead bullets.
Other excellent points were raised during the Charlevoix meeting. For instance, representatives of Native American tribes have not been consulted. The Coast Guard is required to consult the tribes because Great Lakes waters are held in trust for the tribes by the federal government.
We must also be careful that the Coast Guard does not run afoul of international treaties regarding the use and amount of weaponry allowed on the Great Lakes.
The citizens also asked the Coast Guard, “Why now?” Why, five years after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, does the Coast Guard need increased fire power on the Great Lakes? Is there an imminent threat that requires increased weaponry on the Great Lakes? Does the Coast Guard really need all 34 zones on the Great Lakes? As these citizens’ questions were left unanswered by the Coast Guard, I will be following up with the Coast Guard.
As co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus and founder of the Law
Enforcement Caucus, I understand the need for security at our nation’s borders. Our government has no greater responsibility than protecting its citizens. To the extent the Coast Guard’s live fire proposal helps prepare them for that task, it is worthy of discussion. Nonetheless, there remain a number of unanswered questions that the Coast Guard should address
before rushing to begin live fire training on the Lakes.

Congressman Bart Stupak (D) represents the 1st Congressional District.
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