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..

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Swimmers Beware/ Update

Chris Morey - August 16th, 2007
I love freediving. The fact that I can drive down to the bay and slide into that amazing universe, beneath the waves and between breaths, just blows me away every time.
As I waded out just west of the Open Space in Traverse City around 10 a.m. July 29, I felt that familiar sense of excitement. At the second sand bar I dropped my monofin and stepped into it. A short distance away, on one of the many boats moored near the beach, I overheard a woman talking loudly on a cell phone, admitting that her boat flushes directly into the bay and that her son uses it frequently.
I wondered how common that is.
I eased into the water and slipped beneath the surface. In the stillness below I aimed for deeper water and relaxed in the almost frictionless liquid blue of the bay. I barely noticed the beer cans and plastic cups strewn along the way.
Breathing up in deeper water I saw the bright pectoral fins of a Freshwater Drum, an amazing fish that eats zebra mussels. Taking a cue from something in the Drum’s body language, I looked over my shoulder to find a huge pair of carp just feet away. The carp breezed by, turned restlessly and glided in again for a close look. My mask leaked a little from smiling.
Time to part company. A few easy strokes and I looked up to find a propeller trail right over my head! I surfaced directly in the wake of a grey inflatable. Its young, blond driver looked back at me over his shoulder but didn’t circle back to apologize or see if I’d been injured. He passed within 40 feet of my dive flag – well short of the 200-foot legal limit. I blew off the rage with a few fin sprints then got out for the day.

August 4, 9:10am: My daughter along with a freediver friend and I were back at the same spot gearing up for another dive. I looked over at one of the boats moored near the beach and saw a sleepy little boy come out from under the awning. Expecting him to jump in for a morning swim I was surprised when he pulled down his pants and defecated into the bay 20 feet from the swimming beach. He missed a little and, after a few minutes, his mom came out with a sponge-mop to wash the remaining feces into the water.
As we swam off the sand bar and into the beautiful blue, past the beer cans and plastic cups, we found a discarded diaper.
These incidents point to a less obvious and more insidious problem. Based on what I’ve seen, heard and learned it is VERY likely that many of the boaters who moor along our beaches routinely dump raw human waste directly into the waters just a few yards from these beaches. In addition to being illegal this is apt to result in very high bacteria counts during the peak season, particularly with a north wind blowing the waste toward the beaches.
An account of the last incident and the MC numbers of the boat were provided to the Grand Traverse County Sheriff Department’s Marine Division. However, across-the-board enforcement of this would be very difficult - since most boaters are likely to be more covert.

I believe the specific problem here is Traverse City’s willingness to allow boats to moor all summer proximate to the beaches at the south end of the bay. This amounts to a free marina -- without the controls and safeguards -- and these boaters frequently stay overnight on their boats throughout the summer. During the peak summer vacation times, there are many boats moving in and out among swimmers, which is the most obvious danger. Yet the city remains willing to give over most of the prime shoreline to boaters; reserving relatively small areas for swimming.
Based on the quantity of discarded materials, such as beer and pop cans, garments, diapers, cups, etc., we have a real problem with boaters who have no respect for the environment or for marine laws.
This abuse of the environment, and life-threatening disregard for the law, is not a matter of speculation. It is a repeatedly observed and documented fact.
Obviously, not all boaters behave this way. Nonetheless the question remains: Can we, as a community, afford to continue to reward abuse with privilege?

UPDATE: ‘Grease‘ now playing at septage facility
Bugs 1: Fats, oil and grease 0.
Just like the weather lately, the microbial bugs at the Grand Traverse County Septage Facility got really hot last week. Hot enough to chew up restaurant grease.
This is a milestone for the facility and comes on the heels of the Express report that area haulers were frustrated that the facility, after being operational for two years, still couldn’t process what’s called grease trap waste. Area haulers have had to apply the waste on farmlands, but were running out of space and feared they might have to start hauling the stuff downstate.
The county’s auto-thermophylic aerobic digester (ATAD) is essentially a stew of sewage-eating microbes. It had to reach 120 degrees in order to “eat” the grease that’s mixed with more diluted wastewater. On Tuesday last week, it reached 124 degrees Fahrenheit.
The digester, overseen by the consulting firm of Gourdie-Fraser, will ultimately produce class A or exceptional biosolids, which can be sold as fertilizer for vegetables and fruit.
“This is great news for the Grand Traverse Bay watershed,” said Chris Buday, director of the septage facility.
“Over 20 million gallons of septage, holding tank and special waste was processed at the Septage Treatment Facility since May of 2005. We are now ready to receive the next 20 million gallons and prevent that waste from polluting the region’s watersheds.
Walt Steuer of Steuer Pumping Service said he’s taking a wait-and-see attitude. At this point, the facility has just called a couple of haulers for their loads—but not him.
“They ain’t called us, they ain’t had a meeting to tell us when we can start using it. Right now, it’s a start-up. You can call it a success when they can tell all of us to come in on a daily basis.” -- by Anne Stanton
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