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 · Closing the loop
. . . .

Closing the loop

Anne Stanton - December 7th, 2006
Get ready, set, rev ... or maybe do a slow boil of disappointment. It all depends on who you are.
Thanks to a decision to open a 12-mile railroad grade along Mullet Lake, snowmobile enthusiasts can now make a complete loop around Northern Michigan. The trail connects snowmobile trails in Indian River and Cheboygan. With the gap closed, the snow machines can tour from Indian River north to Mackinac City, south to Alanson, and then back to Indian River, said Mike Grisdale, executive director of the Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We’ve been hoping and working for this for quite awhile. Winter stuff is hard to come by—we don’t have a ski resort or a casino. So snowmobiling is the one thing Cheboygan can offer in the winter. The city council is even opening up the downtown streets to snowmobilers this year. We’re hoping to promote the entire region as a snowmobile destination,” Grisdale said.
Meanwhile, landowners along Mullet Lake are nursing a deep disappointment over the state’s decision to allow snow machines on a railroad grade that abuts their lakeside yards and goes through scores of driveways. The state bought the railroad grade in 1988 with Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund dollars. At that time, it promised that it would forever keep motorized vehicles off West Mullet Lake Trail.
Without a trail connection, some snowmobilers drove on the unplowed shoulder of M-27. Others even tried to make it across the lake.
“We had several snowmobiles try that, and then they’d fall into the lake and we’d have to rescue them,” said Cheboygan Undersheriff Mike Newman.
The state finally agreed in the mid 1990s to find an alternate route or rescind the snowmobile ban. The pressure to compromise was intense. There are 380,000 registered snowmobile riders who spend an estimated $1 billion on meals, drinks, clothing and equipment related to the sport. On the other side were about 300 Mullet Lake residents; some who own cottages while others own $2 million homes and often don’t stick around for the winter weather.
There have been reports that Mullet Lake landowners had blocked the trail with boats and docks—essentially using the railroad grade as private property.
Officials from the state Department of Natural Resources recently met with landowners to make sure the trail was clear.
“We actually have quite a few things that we consider potential liabilities to individuals, and we’re working with residents to get them out of the way by December 1st, assuming we have snow,” said Lori Underwood, a DNR land use specialist. “In particular, we’ve had a few handrails on stairways that walk down to the water. Decks, actual decks where folks had chairs sitting on the trail, railroad ties, landscaping. There are a couple of places where people had boulders that extended on the traversable portion of the trail. Pretty big variety of things that would be a danger to snowmobile users or the groomer that’s going to go through there.”
The DNR just moved a propane tank last week that was within seven feet of the trail’s center,” said Ken Phillips, a DNR forester in Indian River. “Actually people have been quite cooperative.”
No one has been so irate with the situation that they’ve purposely put an obstacle on the trail, as was the case several years ago when one resident dug a shallow trench across the Leelanau Trail from Traverse City to Suttons Bay, causing a cyclist to crash and break a wrist. “Obviously there are serious waterfront property rights concerns, but they don’t want anyone hurt either,” Underwood said.

Gray Fischer has led the opposition to snow machines. Not only are residents hurt by the decision—cross country skiers and hikers won’t be able to use the trail. “Now it will be a snowmobile highway, “ he said.
Before the state bought the railroad bed, trains ran back and forth on the tracks, hauling supplies for Proctor and Gamble. “When they originally put in the railroad grade many, many years ago, homes on the lake weren’t an issue,” said Cheboygan County Undersheriff Michael Newman.
“Now you’ve got a narrow band of area between the lake and homes, and some of those houses are very close to the railroad grade. You might have a lot 100 feet deep and it butts right against the trail,” he said.
Over the last few years, leaders from the different sides met with the state Department of Natural Resources and tried to come up with alternate plans. One would have allowed snowmobiles on two miles of an existing two track in Pigeon River Country State Forest. But the DNR vowed to never allow snowmobiles because it would disturb wildlife. There was another plan for a 30-mile trail that would have involved building snowmobile bridges over I-75 and the Pigeon River—an expensive proposition, but one which the Michigan Snowmobile Association said it was willing to help fund, Fischer said.
Ann Wilson, the DNR’s spokeswoman, said more than 30 options were examined, and all thrown out for different reasons. Private property owners, for example, weren’t willing to grant an easement for a bridge over I-75 on either side of the bridge.
“When we were adding up all the obstacles it would have been very difficult,” she said.
State Senator Jason Allen and State Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer pressured Gov. Granholm last spring to agree to allow snowmobiles on the trail. She did, and so did the DNR director. Newman said he believes the Mullet Lake trail is the only one in the state with restrictions: snow machines can drive no faster than 35 mph and must stay off the trail between midnight and 8 a.m. Fischer said that the state’s betrayal should put citizens on notice that the state cannot be trusted to follow through on its promises.
“We spent two years of meetings with the snowmobile clubs, the DNR and a lot of people who thought they were working in good faith. And then bingo. It was over in just a heart beat last spring,” Fischer said.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
“It doesn’t make me wonder,” Fischer said. “It makes me understand. This was an election year.”

Sugar Loaf
sits out the season
Snowboarders and skiers will have to wait at least another year for Sugar Loaf ski resort to re-open in Leelanau County.
There were just too many hurdles, including a dispute over a sewer bill.
Sugar Loaf was closed in 2000, so there’s been a lot of buzz over the prospect of the resort opening again, albeit with just one chair lift.
But Joe Quandt, the attorney for owner Kate Wickstrom, said it just didn’t make sense to rush the opening. The state has recertified one of the ski lifts and snowmaking equipment, but Quandt said the owner wants the resort fully operational.
Kate Wickstrom, the new owner, is in the process of finalizing a tentative agreement with the Sugar Loaf Service Company over the sewage treatment system. The two parties disagreed about how much Wickstrom should pay for sewer service soon after she took ownership in March of 2005. The Service Company wanted her to pay $8,000 a month—the historical amount—but she thought the bill was over the top for a nonfunctioning resort. The two sides have since reached a tentative agreement, Quandt said.
In the meantime, Quandt wants to dispel the notion that Sugar Loaf will be devoted solely to snowboarding when it reopens.
“It will have a state-of-the-art snowboard park, but there will be traditional skiing with the component of snowboarding.”

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