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 · Long Lost Sisters
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Long Lost Sisters

Emily Manthei - February 4th, 2008
“Sister Cities” in Michigan represent a wide range of countries, including Japan, Germany, Cuba, China, and Russia. You may have seen those signs indicating a town’s “sister city” upon driving across its city limits - but do you know exactly what being a “sister city” means?
Established during Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency to promote cultural understanding, economic growth, and peace starting at the civilian level, the Sister Cities International program has flourished across the United States throughout its 52-year history, building partnerships between U.S. cities, counties, and states with international “sister” or “twin” cities in any number of foreign locales.
Yes, it’s true - while politicians were still making enemies, people around the world had decided to make friends instead.

Traverse City and Petoskey both have “sisters” in Japan (Tsuchiyama and Takashima, respectively), but it was to the sister city of Michigan’s own capital, Lansing, that I recently made a wintertime journey - St. Petersburg, Russia.
Situated in the frosty Russian north, on the eastern edge of the Gulf of Finland, St. Petersburg has been called the “Venice of the North,” as the Neva River flows through the heart of St. Pete’s, separating the main borough from the other northern islands comprising the city. The famed Fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul lies on its own island, while Vasilyevskiy Island is home to the world-famous University of St. Petersburg, and Petersburgsky Island houses yet a further arm of the city.
Canals can be crossed everywhere in the central city, under which the water of the Neva’s smaller counterparts, tributaries, and adjoining canals spent the week that I was there freezing themselves into their yearly seasonal icy state.

Winters in St. Petersburg are like Northern Michigan winters in the days before the recent soothing effects of global warming – chillingly frigid, wind-blown and shocking to the system, with woolly accessories in high demand. Ten degree temps the entire time I was visiting cut down a bit on outdoor activities, but there was still a lot to see.
In this northland, the Russians don’t mind admitting their obsession with fur: fur hats, fur boots, fur coats, all in extravagant fashion line the streets as Petersburgers walk arm-in-arm down the bustling Nevsky Prospekt (one of the main thoroughfares), which itself is decked out in lights and festive garb for the holidays.
The wintertime mystique gives way to a chilling quiet throughout the city, providing a strange contrast to the busy crowds: while people still carry on with their lives, they do it in muted separation from their neighbors, which somehow only seems natural here.
But it’s not that the Russians aren’t friendly; it’s just that they have inside faces, voices, and personalities that remain separate from their public, outside demeanors.

Luckily I didn’t have to undertake the task of bringing Russians out of their shells; I was on the receiving end of all the Russian hospitality one might expect from the residents of a far-away “sister” city.
My Russian host, who manages an office space planning company that sells office designs and furniture to U.S. companies, introduced myself and my fellow American counterpart to all of his Russian friends, who graciously shared their New Year’s traditions: sparklers, champagne, caviar, and five-and-ten-cent store animal masks.
And boy, was I in for some longstanding party stamina. The Russians stayed up drinking and talking until 7 a.m., prolonging the festivities well into 2008 - and in fact, the party continued for nigh unto a week, as most professionals (including my host) had the entire week off of work.
Because the state Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas by the Eastern Orthodox calendar, Christmas Eve is not observed until January 6, at which time the cathedrals come alive with singing and chanting; and thus New Years Eve marks the beginning of the holiday, celebrated as a secular festival, and Christmas marks the end, as the religious counterpart. All of this celebration made for one very festive time.

But while Petersburgers do know how to party, they also know how to work. Gone are the days of Soviet control and mass poverty: capitalism is alive and well in the upmarket shops where Hugo Boss reigns supreme and the younger set tosses about prices in dollars and euros instead of the lower-valued national ruble.
The economic prosperity many enjoy today is incredibly new to this city though, and the remaining reminders of the recent past haunt the corners and alleyways where Soviet-style food stalls and communal-living apartment blocks still recall the days of Leningrad, the city’s former alias.
But nowadays, these city dwellers would rather recall their even more distant, artistic, and romantic past: the royal balls in the great Winter Palace, the unparalleled collection of art in the state Hermitage Museum, magnificent ballet and opera houses, and the visual splendor of a city lined with palaces and cathedrals designed by the greatest Russian and Italian architects of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. And when it comes to all of this, the people of the city certainly do have plenty to
be proud of.
They will be the first to tell you that St. Petersburg far outstrips Moscow in culture and class and that you really haven’t seen Russia until you’ve been to their northern outpost, which is, incidentally, much the same way we feel about Michigan: that you haven’t really experienced the beauty of the state until you’ve made it up to the Grand and Little Traverse Bays.

It is true that visiting a place can dispel many myths one has about its people, its politics, or its reputation – and this seems to be exactly what President Eisenhower had in mind when he developed the Sister Cities program.
Even if it doesn’t mean directly visiting a foreign “sister” – although if you can manage it, that’s one cool way to identify your Michigan homeland with it’s foreign counterpart – there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved: by linking up with a foreign pen-pal, celebrating Sister City educational and cultural exchanges, and learning about a Sister City to the town or city near you.
For more information, you can go to the Sister Cities International website (http://www.sister-cities.org) or contact your chamber of commerce.
Who knows? You may find yourself on a trip to the Japanese countryside, the gingerbread houses of Bavaria… or the chilly cities of Russia. Or you might even find yourself hosting an international student or traveller, such as myself, and introducing them to the great lands of Michigan’s Up North - a great way to help build communities worldwide.

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