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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Writers recharge at Springfed Retreat

Glen Young - September 28th, 2009
Writers Recharge at
Springfed Retreat

By Glen Young 9/28/09

John Lamb believes his writers’ conference is unlike other such events. Lamb, director of the Springfed Writers’ Retreat has worked for 11 years to create a comfortable atmosphere for those who attend the mid-October gathering.
“The retreat started out as a semi-irreverent affair,” he says, but the wealth of writing talent he’s been able to use to staff the event has turned it into one of the premiere seminars in the state, if not the country. Indeed, his staff is made up of some of the most notable writers of poetry and fiction found anywhere.
A singer-songwriter from Royal Oak who also organizes songwriting workshops in Northern Michigan, Lamb’s objective is to offer a worthwhile experience to those attending, while making each year different. “I’m careful about not repeating subjects,” he says.
He’s also quick to point that all in attendance are equals. “It’s a retreat, not a class. It’s like a summit where people can recharge, and share ideas.”
“Most of these conferences are essentially MFA students trying to meet famous writers,” says M.L. Liebler of the typical writers’ event. A Detroit area performer and poet who has long assisted Lamb with the writers’ retreat, Liebler believes that Springfed draws students who are more interested in improving their writing.
And while Lamb and Liebler annually assemble famous writers, the atmosphere at Springfed is more relaxed. Liebler is convinced it is homier than other writers’ conferences. “This isn’t like other writers retreats, its much more friendly, much more comfortable. There’s more of a family feel to it than a typical writers conference.”

I didn’t want it to be academic in nature,” says Lamb, who doesn’t have any sort of agenda for each year’s event. “I’m getting better every year about making people feel better about their writing.”
After nine years at Camp Michigania on Walloon Lake, Lamb moved the retreat to the Birchwood Inn outside Harbor Springs last
year. Birchwood, he says, is every bit as inspiring, while the amenities are more comfortable. He’s also moved the date back two weeks to avoid competing with the big-drawing Dodge Poetry Festival in New Jersey.
Joining the staff again this year at Springfed will be poet Dorianne Laux, who teaches at North Carolina State University. Laux also considers Springfed special. “What makes it wonderful for students is they get to come together with some master poets and writers and get it going.” she says of the students’ inspiration and motivation.
“There’s a lot of hilarity,” Laux explains. “It really is not a stuffy conference, it’s much more process driven.”
A new staff member who can relate to the goals and expectations of students at Springfed is Irina Reyn, who teaches at the University of Pittsburgh. Reyn, author of the critically acclaimed novel What Happened To Anna K, is a former student at the retreat. This year she returns as the Cranbrook Fiction Chair.
“So often discouragement comes from so many different directions,” Reyn says. “A conference like this is so encouraging.” She says that as an MFA student at Bennington, she had ready access to important writers. She prefers the relaxed mood of Springfed, which she recalls appreciatively. “I found it an extremely warm, friendly atmosphere, something not found at all conferences of this sort.”

Reyn, who is at work on a new novel, hopes to give her students an experience similar to her own. “I hope to be able to offer that same encouragement, as well as the constructive critiques I had when I was there.”
Liebler, who serves as the host of the weekend’s open microphone night, says Lamb has the right approach to putting together his staff. “He ends up getting people who are really good with others and who are able to work with and workshop with people. But they’re also famous,” he adds.
Lamb says students cannot get enough poetry. “It’s the poets that really draw. The poets are kind of like stars in their own right,” he says.
This year’s staff also includes poets Marie Howe and Robert Fanning, as well as fiction writer Margo Lagattuta.

This year’s Springfed Writers’ Retreat is scheduled for October 8-11 at the Birchwood Inn, Harbor Springs. For more information or to register, check out their website at

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