Letters

Letters 10-20-2014

Doctor Dan? After several email conversations with Rep. Benishek, he has confirmed that he doesn’t have a clue of what he does. Here’s why...

In Favor Of Our Parks [Traverse] City Proposal 1 is a creative way to improve our city parks without using our tax dollars. By using a small portion of our oil and gas royalties from the Brown Bridge Trust Fund, our parks can be improved for our children and grandchildren.

From January 1970 Popular Mechanics: “Drastic climate changes will occur within the next 50 years if the use of fossil fuels keeps rising at current rates.” That warning comes from Eugene K. Peterson of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Newcomers Might Leave: Recently we had guests from India who came over as students with the plan to stay in America. He has a master’s degree in engineering and she is doing her residency in Chicago and plans to specialize in oncology. They talked very candidly about American politics and said that after observing...

Someone Is You: On Sept 21, I joined the 400,000 who took to the streets of New York in the People’s Climate March, followed by a UN Climate Summit and many speeches. On October 13, the Pentagon issued a report calling climate change a significant threat to national security requiring immediate action. How do we move from marches, speeches and reports to meaningful work on this problem? In NYC I read a sign with a simple answer...

Necessary To Pay: Last fall, Grand Traverse voters authorized a new tax to fix roads. It is good, it is necessary.

The Real Reasons for Wolf Hunt: I have really been surprised that no one has been commenting on the true reason for the wolf hunt. All this effort has not been expended so 23 wolves can be killed each year. Instead this manufactured controversy about the wolf hunt has been very carefully crafted to get Proposal 14-2 passed.

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

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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