Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · A Meijer Moment
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A Meijer Moment

Robert Downes - May 5th, 2008
While reaching for a bag of corn chips in the snack aisle recently, an unexpected thought flew into my head: Why the heck am I shopping at Meijer?
Although I’m a member of our local co-op and also support independent supermarkets in the area, there are times when the need for some hardware or whatever leads me down the miles of aisles at the big M.
But lately, you can’t help but wonder if Meijer is the sort of “good neighbor” that’s worth supporting.
It’s troubling to see, for instance, that Meijer has replaced many of its cashiers with digital scan terminals. If a large corporation isn’t bringing jobs to our community, why should we support it? I can’t imagine that many of the cashiers replaced by digital robots were exactly on Easy Street to begin with.
More disturbing is the ongoing scandal in Acme Township. Last December, it was revealed that Meijer’s used corporate money to fund a recall drive against officials in the township who had a zoning issue over the construction of its new superstore. The funds included $30,000 spent on a public relations firm to sway public opinion.
Township officials weren’t bent on scuttling the proposed store; they simply wanted it to fit Acme’s master plan with some requirements that the Meijer bigwigs found inconvenient. The township’s intention was to develop Acme in a way that would still bear a slight resemblance to a nice place to live, rather than the depressing, run-amok, urban sprawl scenario that corporate America seems to prefer.
Using corporate funds in a recall campaign is a felony. In an article in last week’s Detroit Free Press, Rich Robinson, the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, spelled out what that means:
“Meijer spent years and tens of thousands of dollars bullying local officials, suing them and generally making their lives hell because they dared to exercise local control in a zoning decision. In this case, justice demands more than a wrist-slap and a token fine.”
Now, there is also an issue over whether Meijer has to respond to the subpoenas of Grand Traverse Prosecutor Alan Schneider, who is seeking communications documents from the corporation regarding the recall. In an April 11 ruling, Circuit Court Judge Philip Rodgers noted that our Legislature has created a special “political class” under the law which could provide Meijer with a way out. Under the Campaign Finance Act, only Michigan’s Department of State can pursue this criminal investigation.
Judge Rodgers‘ opinion stated: “While all other citizens are subject to the full brunt of the justice system for their alleged crimes, the Legislature has created a ‘political class’ of those who are elected or would be elected to office and exempted their alleged campaign crimes from scrutiny by experienced county prosecutors.”
And, quoting again from Rich Robinson’s excellent article: “In this case, the member of the ‘political class’ getting the exemption was the secret source of money behind an election campaign.”
So, that leaves the investigation hanging, and Robinson claims that Meijer hopes to get off with a fine through Michigan’s Department of State, which has no subpoena power, and therefore, no real ability to investigate a possible felony.
Ultimately, this is all just splitting hairs. If Meijer had funded the recall through a political action committee instead of corporate funds, it would still be the mark of a bad neighbor, and the result would be just the same.
True, there are many residents of Acme Township who are angry at their local officials over this case: Funds have been squandered on the Meijer battle at a time when Acme’s roads and sewers need serious attention. And many were giving Meijer the thumbs-up from the get-go.
But, if ever there was a time to support your local, independent supermarket or food co-op, this sure seems to be the proper occasion until Meijer proves that it can be a good neighbor and corporate citizen. Since I stopped shopping at Meijer, I’ve been delighted to find that local stores such as Glen’s, Oleson’s, and certainly the Oryana Food Co-op, have made significant improvements that are well worth your consideration. See you there.
 
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