Our little town is filled with voices: listen. Ours are the thousand beautiful voices of filmmakers and actors, authors and broadcasters, activists and
office-holders, musicians and painters and sculptors.
We lost one of those beloved voices on Wednesday. Lori Hall Steele was a writer, a journalist and essayist. She wrote about us, both from us and to us. She wrote about the heart and the hearth. She wrote about helping her toddler shovel tricycle trails in the snow. She wrote about the children who joined her playing in the dirt to plant flowers. Bright crazy things were living, she wrote, and they helped. She wrote about Phil Murrays chocolate. She wrote about the re-birth of the old State Hospital. She wrote about the value of strong neighborhood schools.
Lori lived and worked from the center of this community. She wrote stories that pleased and provoked and moved us because she knew us. She cared about what mattered to us. She promoted the changes that are good for us. On fine days, she and her laptop would sit at a table outside Horizon Books. She must have gotten some writing done there, but it seems that she spent most of her time listening and responding as folks stopped to talk about the big issues, the small issues, and everything in between. Lori dwelled in the center of this community.
When her illness compelled her to ask for help, help arrived in abundance - and no wonder. It wasnt just that we knew Lori. It wasnt just that we loved Lori. We cherished Lori. Selfishly, we had to try to make her well, to restore her to the health that gave us those warm thoughts, those sparkling words, those big bright compassionate eyes... and oh, those dimples!
As Lori got sicker, we hoped for a miracle that didnt come. Now that shes gone, were left to do what her writings always invited us to do. Pay attention to the everyday miracles that do come. Appreciate the snowflakes, and the neighborhood sounds that float in through the windows. See the genie summoned when we polish our grandmothers silver. Hear the love in our mothers absent-minded chatter: Your uncle called and we should take yoga class and how do you make apple crisp?...
Lori Hall Steele was a vibrant voice, and its a sorrowful void of silence she leaves behind.
Bonnie Deigh TC
Great Lakes cash cow?
If you doubt that Great Lakes water is at risk, see the full-page Morgan
Stanley ad on page 49 of the November 17 New Yorker magazine. Picture a gigantic water bottle superimposed on a gigantic city being built in a desert, and saying:
WORLD WISE: Demand for water is growing twice as fast as the population. New methods of sourcing, purifying and transporting water will be essential to meet these demands. But what could these innovations mean for you? Speak to your Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor about where potential opportunities may lie. To find the smart investments today, you need to be world wise.
Where else but in the worlds greatest supply of fresh water, the Great Lakes, would investors first look for the sourcing of water? We must support the efforts of Bart Stupak and the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation to amend the Great Lakes Compact to prevent sales of our water as products for investors profits.
Anita Abbott Northport
Churches & politics
In a letter to the Northern Express (November 10-16, 2008), Anahata Balance stated that Since churches are listed as 501C [sic] organizations with the IRS, by law they are not able to participate in politics, nor officially protest. The letter-writer is partially correct.
According to Publication 1828, the IRS Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations, 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from endorsing or opposing a particular candidate for public office. However, they may engage in some lobbying on legislative actions (including ballot initiatives), as long as they do not devote a substantial part of their activities to attempting to influence legislation. Violating these restrictions may jeopardize the tax-exempt status of a church or religious organization.
If a church is to live its faith actively in the world, it must sometimes participate in the public square, especially to protest against injustice. While I disagree with the Catholic churches stand against embryonic stem cell research, I am glad that my country permits churches to have some voice in public life, and I am very glad that this voice is carefully limited.
My religious denomination Unitarian Universalism has a strong history of working passionately in favor of legislation that is just and non-discriminatory, from the 15th and 19th Amendments, to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, to the current struggle to ensure that all American citizens have equal rights to marriage and family.
Karen McCarthy TC
TC‘s new manager
For too long, our city managers have lacked vision, expertise, advanced education in the field or knowledge of city planning. The poverty of skill and experience in the city manager position in Traverse City is made only more obvious by the necessity of The Grand Vision.
Now, after 17 years of Richard Lewis leadership the city still has no long-term plan and continues to react to developers demands and the changing demographics of the region rather than proactively charting its own course.
After saying that, I would love to say that the city has finally cast its net wide enough and found a truly qualified candidate for city manager. I cant. The city chose R. Ben Bifoss.
While working as Manistees city manager Bifoss sold city-owned waterfront land so that Abonmarce Consultants could develop exclusive condominiums. Bifoss then left his position in city government to become a project manager for that same company, Abonmarche Consultants.
Does Traverse City need more of this nonsense? I encourage everyone to look into Mr. Bifoss actual accomplishments including the Harbor Village condominiums in Manistee, an architecturally bland real estate development, and ask themselves if this is what they want for Traverse City.
Kevin Summers TC
Make a donation
This time of year, everyone donates. But listen, I work at a service company and have heard from several families that the Detroit area cant handle all of the homeless so they are telling them to go North. Im serious. No lie.
How sad to have to move and be homeless, and feel all alone.
My suggestion is that if you dont need a generous donation this year - refuse it. Send it to someone that really needs it. Give food. Even the Grand Rapids area has had to close food pantries because they are empty. Food will be accepted with open arms.
Lets take care of each other this year, with honesty, until life gets better for our state. There is a real need out there for our neighbors. Lets be real Christians, and only take what you need, and GIVE all that you can.
Barb Lardie via email
Advice for Democrats
Democrats should not take this election as a shift to the left, by the populace at large. I believe it was a repudiation of the Bush (and the Republican partys) economic policies, intensified by his tremendous incompetence. These policies are wrongheaded and short sighted, and are long overdue to be discontinued. The country needs to move away from policies that shift the fruits of our economy strictly to the wealthy. We need a large and successful middle class and a safety net for the lowest members of society that for one reason or another are unable to function in our system. The people at the top will prosper anyway.
But it was a repudiation spurred by a disastrous financial collapse, not a sudden realization that things were going in the wrong direction. The electorate has a short memory about things like this. When the general public again feels that things are going in the right direction, they will turn back to their other concerns, right or wrong.
My largest frustration with Republican voters is that because they support one (or more) of the partys positions, they feel they MUST support every position of their party, even if its to the detriment of society at large. Whether the issue is guns, religion, abortion (issues that good people can disagree on) or even something like racism or homophobia, I do not understand why the Republican rank and file support economic policies which are not good for them or the country.
If you look at the people who have been successful over the last eight years, the intentions of the Bush administration (and the Republican party) are clear. Oil company profits are obscene. Defense contractors like Blackwater and Halliburton are doing very well. Wal-mart - a purveyor of cheap junk from overseas and low paying jobs - prospers. Auto makers, with large groups of union workers, dont prosper. The well being of 90 percent of the population is not even a concern.
The Democratic party needs to concentrate on getting our economic house in order. They should not immediately reach too far to correct the inequities they see under the Republicans.
Proceed carefully in correcting the many social inequities that exist in this country. You MUST succeed to insure the stability of the country and the stability of the Democratic Party.
Alan Petrie East Jordan