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Letters 10/03/07

- October 3rd, 2007
Slow Down, Would‘ja?
During the day I love to take my dog for a walk around Traverse City to get some exercise, sunlight and fresh air. But there is a big problem in our town with cyclists endangering pedestrians on the city sidewalks. I am getting very tired of going for a nice stroll and nearly being hit by a speeding cyclist several times during my walk. This is happening even when I stay off the TART trail and stick to sidewalks only.
I’d like to remind cyclists that the proper place for you to ride is either the TART trail or the street. The sidewalks are for pedestrians only. If you absolutely MUST ride your bike on the sidewalk, I’d like to ask you to please SLOW DOWN and ring a bell, yell, or make some kind of noise when you come up behind someone walking so that they have an opportunity to move out of the way. Most of you are whizzing by so fast and so close that if a pedestrian makes any arm movement or steps over just a bit they will be hit!
Max Wolf • TC

High Cost of Imports
Last week Mattel apologized to China for sending substandard and dangerous toys to American markets.
Why? The truth is, they had no choice. There is no other source for the toys they import. And Mattel is just the tip of the iceberg; we buy things too numerous to discuss from China. Everything from T-shirts to computer parts are made there and shipped to the US.
My wife and I tried in vain to avoid Chinese products for the first couple of years that we were parents, not wanting to support prison labor or the sweat shop practices that are well known to occur in China. We managed to find some items of clothing made in Indonesia, Pakistan and some South American countries. American goods were few and far between.
At this point I would like to introduce some additional information about our relationship with our “Most Favored Trading Partners”: the trade deficit with China in 2006 was, according to US government, $232.5 Billion dollars. That is how many more dollars we sent to them than we received.
At the end of 2005 the Chinese government held some 300 billion dollars in Treasury Bonds. Treasury bonds are, in simple terms, paper sold to cover debt incurred by our government. (Any appearance that we are buying the Chinese government our debt is a coincidence.)
Somewhere in the vicinity of 7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the US since 1980. “Real” income has dropped, depending on whose stats one uses, by between zero and 40%.
Now the other shoe falls!
Last week, while listening to the BBC News on IPR, I heard a story about the economic situation in the UK. They were discussing interest rates, inflation and the general state of things relative to the US sub-prime mortgage troubles. It seems that the only dim spot in the economy there is a very focused inflation. Much to the dismay of the economists, the only inflationary pressures were coming from Chinese imports! (Hear it?)
Whether it’s an epiphany or a conspiracy it would appear the Chinese have figured something out.
They have a monopoly on the manufacture of a lot of the things the world depends on. When you have a monopoly, there are no price controls imposed by pesky things like “competition,“ so it would appear that price increases are in our near future. And, if we make China angry, they may stop floating our national debt.
So, next time you are at the store wondering how they can make and sell toys, shirts, shoes, TVs, computers, etc.. so cheaply, remember, the truth is:
They can’t!
J. Grant • Mesick

The Scoop on the Pointe
Anne Stanton did a great job on the Petoskey Pointe story in the Sep. 27 issue of the Northern Express. It was the best background information about the project I have read yet!
During the early controversial public hearings, no mention of any dissent was reported by the local newspaper. The reporter only interviewed the project developers and the City Manager, and the public was given a biased account of what was taking place. My husband even called the reporter and asked if he was at the same meeting that we were at. No quotes were given in the stories by anyone who was not in favor of the project. Not until a group of citizens provided over 900 signatures for a ballot referendum.
The referendum lost by as many Bay Harbor absentee votes as those who received absentee voter applications from the developer and his supporters. Many of the Petoskey residents believed the project to be all that was promised, including a two year completion date. The referendum did not hold up the project. The financing and the purchase of the bank property had not been completed at that time and still is not totally secured, even though we were told they were “ready to start.” The firm is still “arranging financing from New York City lenders who are getting the funds from Europe and Hong Kong.”
The development will not be a “hotel with condo options,” but condos with rental options and no hotel amenities. A “public open area” will also be controlled by the owners.
Tourists enjoy idly browsing the windows of the shops in the “Gaslight District” and will not come to Petoskey to shop in an indoor shopping mall that shadows the downtown area and blocks the beautiful view of Little Traverse Bay for the entire city. They can shop at an indoor mall anywhere else downstate.
Ms. Stanton quotes the city manager stating the project will provide “badly needed parking.” Actually, it will provide fewer parking spaces than before and will be underground for local shoppers. The project will be seven stories when nothing in Petoskey is higher than three stories and will be visible for miles away, similar to the Grand Traverse Resort in TC and the monster development in Destin, FL that the locals in the small “fishing village” despise.
The mayor and city manager have given “every indication” the project is still “a go”, even though they “haven’t seen anything in writing”. We have heard this for more than two years now. The mayor may “not care what the dates are” but the locals do. I don’t think the hole in the ground is any better than what was there and it is definitely more dangerous.
Project supporters want the citizens to “be patient while it works out” while the new Odawa Casino was started and completed in much less time than it took to dig the hole in the center of town.
The citizens of Petoskey are paying for the upgrading of utilities near the project. Downstate, cities have the developers pay for utility and road upgrades for their private projects. “The city gave the developer its parking lot for which it originally paid $20,000 and is now worth $970,000” doesn’t sound like a wise investment to me!
There are still too many problems and unanswered questions for me to be “confident people will be happy,” like the mayor of Petoskey.

Carolyn Bourland • Petoskey


Correction: In Rick Coates‘ RestauranTour article on Casino Cuisine, the correct name of the tribe is “The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians,” and the wine tastings in Odawa Casino‘s Sage restaurant are on Saturdays from 3-5 pm.

 
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