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 · Features · Deb Lake
. . . .

Deb Lake

Rick Coates - July 21st, 2008
If you read the headlines it is obvious the impact Michael Moore has personally had in making the Traverse City Film Festival (TCFF) one of the best in North America. His work on behalf of the Festival and the renovation of the State Theatre has resulted in a new vibe and economic stimulus in downtown Traverse City. But if you ask Moore, he will tell you he is a little uncomfortable for getting all the credit.
“I always feel a bit uneasy when people thank ‘the board’ of the film festival for doing so much good for the community. The record needs to be set straight,” said the Oscar-winning filmmaker and TCFF co-founder. “Nearly all of that ‘good’ is being done on a day in and day out basis by one person: Deborah Lake. While I spend a good chunk of my time each week on programming the festival and the State, coming up with new ideas and directions in which to take both projects, and securing the funds and the support of the Hollywood studios for our endeavors here in TC, the only way ANY of my ideas are moved forward is due to the smarts and the sweat of Deb Lake. And after that, the hundreds of volunteers who provide the fuel for the engine -- volunteers whom she has nurtured, organized and inspired.”

Deb Lake has been with the TCCF almost since its inception, starting as a volunteer in its first year and evolving into the executive director, the only paid position within the organization. Lake, like Moore, is uncomfortable in taking credit for her contributions to the success of the Festival.
“I am getting paid for what I do, so I don’t deserve any credit. It is easy for me to do what I do because it is my job. The real credit belongs to the nearly 1,000 volunteers who give of their time to make this festival a success,” said Lake. “There are so many talented people who have professional jobs and work a lot of hours and then take on responsibilities at the Festival that other festivals pay those positions full time. So we have these amazingly talented people giving to make this Festival work–that is where the credit belongs.”
While Moore agrees with Lake’s point on the importance of all of the volunteers, he disagrees with her assessment of her own importance.
“There simply would be no Traverse City Film Festival at this point without Deb,” said Moore. She is the machine that makes it happen. She does the jobs of 10 people, and while that may be laudable, ultimately it isn’t fair that one person has to sacrifice so much so that thousands can enjoy the fruits of her labor. The success of the festival and the State will allow us to hire even more people to provide Deb with the support she deserves. I can’t imagine anyone in the community not agreeing with that and not helping me fund the staff that Deb needs. It will be one more example of creating more middle class jobs in Traverse City.”

Lake grew up in Canton, MI as she puts it so her parents “could live near the Big House” (U-M football stadium). She spent her summers in Traverse City and headed off to Princeton obtaining an English degree with a film studies minor. She eventually moved back to Michigan and Traverse City to marry her childhood sweetheart.
She worked as web designer and had been laid off when she heard the news about a film festival starting up in Traverse City.
“I was so excited, because I love movies. So I called and called the number but never received a return call. So I figured they didn’t need me,” laughs Lake. “Then I am at a family function on July 4, just a few weeks from the Festival and the fundraising committee calls saying they needed help raising $100,000. So I built a back-end database to help them. Then the Festival office calls days before saying they needed to send out e-mail schedules to all the volunteers, and I ended up spearheading that.”
After the first festival ended Lake recalls everyone went back to their day jobs, something she was without, while she hung around, cleaning up and organizing files. She spent about three months working for free, getting the office organized, filling out reports before she was offered a full time job with another company.
“I went to the Festival board and made them a list of everything I had been working on and what needed to be done and told them I had taken a position that was going to pay a salary,” said Lake. “Well, when they looked over everything, they thought it was a good idea to hire someone and they offered me a job as a contract employee for a lot less than the job I was offered. But in my heart I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of.”

With that type of loyalty, commitment and work ethic, Moore knew he had the right person for the job.
“I want the festivalgoers to know that much of what we are able to pull together for our schedule depends on the genius of Debbi Lake. I don’t use that word lightly. If you could spend a day with her your head would be spinning as you marvel at how she is able to find films that distributors say no longer exist, or to convince filmmakers to come to Traverse City or to answer 200 emails,” said Moore.
“Deb and I watch hundreds of movies every year in order to find the very best to bring to Traverse City. She has an encyclopedic mind for movies and she loves ones that are both obscure and ones that are meant for a broad audience.”
Lake is uncomfortable in the spotlight. She relishes her work behind the scenes. While she doesn’t get to enjoy the Festival on the same level as thousands who attend, she finds enjoyment in a different way.
“I enjoy watching everyone having a great time. The buzz about the films as people discuss them when they walk out of the theater,” said Lake. “I think I was able to watch 15 minutes of Borat before I was called out of the theater to resolve something. But that is my job. I get to watch these films before they come. I get to go to Sundance and other festivals and have my fun. But I am having fun being a part of something that is helping to make the town I live in become a really cool place to live.”

In addition to overseeing the Festival, she is responsible for the State Theatre operation and the four fulltime employees, two projectionists and two house managers. She also has plenty of paperwork and administrative work to keep her busy with the festival year round.
“Most festivals of our size have three to five full time employees working year round to make it happen. Look at how many the Cherry Festival has,” said Lake. “But Michael, the board and I have spoken about this. We know we need more full time employees but we want to be careful. We have seen how other festivals that have grown and added staff have taken on a different personality. So much of the personality of this TCFF is a result of the committed and dedicated volunteer team we have.”
So what does Deb Lake think about Michael Moore?
“First of all, he is incredibly intelligent and very funny. He makes me laugh at least a handful of times a day. For me personally, I like helping him accomplish the million ideas he has,” said Lake. “I admire the fact that he really believes everything is possible. I have personally witnessed him accomplish several things that others said couldn’t happen. When you are around that type of person with that type of energy you can’t help but want to do better. I get bored easily and that is the reason I have never worked anywhere for more than a couple of years. I have never been bored one day on the job at the TCFF.”
Lake is excited about the future of the Festival and the big plans for the fifth anniversary next year. She is also pleased with all that the Festival has accomplished to date.
“I know how important tourism is to the area and the Festival is helping to attract visitors to the area year round, and the addition of the State has helped with that effort,” said Lake. “But I am also grateful for what the Festival has meant to all of us who live here year round. There are so many wonderful things about this area and there is no question that the TCFF has made this even a better place to live.”
As for great things, Deb says the greatest thing to happen to her was last October when she became a mother for the first time. But if you ask the 60 managers and the nearly 1,000 volunteers of the TCFF, Deb Lake has been the “mom” that has kept the Festival together for the past four years.
For a complete listing of all the parties, panel discussions and films at next week’s Traverse City Film Festival check out traversefilmfest.org.

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