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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Random Thoughts: Untying the knots of justice

Robert Downes - November 2nd, 2009
Random Thoughts
Robert Downes 11/2/09
Untying the Knots of Injustice
We get a lot of requests to investigate stories of the “she said, he said” variety here at the Express. Often, these are a result of a perceived failure of the local courts and the feeling that justice has been denied.
Custody battles, disputes with builders, issues over getting fired, anger over court decisions and claims of harassment by the cops... these are typical of the requests we receive at the Express on a weekly basis. Many requests involve knotty issues that could take days or weeks to unravel, if ever.
Sometimes, people feel they’ve gotten the runaround by the law, or they’ve taken their problem along with an eight-page summary all the way to Michigan’s attorney general, where it is most likely sitting in a file cabinet or a waste basket.
Some people with grievances have taken no legal action at all, but are “planning” to sue a shady builder or the boss who fired them unfairly. These callers often feel that a newspaper article listing all of the injustices against them will somehow fix the problem, or at least offer the satisfaction of sticking it to the person who did them wrong.
The problem for any news organization is that there are always two sides of a story, separated by what is often a muddy field of half-truths. And unlike in a court of law, where perjury can lead to a fine and/or a prison sentence, you can get pretty creative with what you tell a newspaper: omitting damning details, embroidering the truth, painting yourself as an angel while the other guy is a devil... you get the picture.
This is why newspapers rely heavily on legal documentation and the confirmation of the facts by at least two sources.
It’s also why we sometimes throw up our hands at the possibility of approaching worthy stories that seem too complicated and filled with pitfalls for us to handle. The simple truth is that not everyone can be a “winner” in court -- or in a newspaper article.
Recently, for instance, a woman called regarding a custody battle with her ex-husband that involved more than 20 years of abuse. She said her husband had framed her in a case involving theft from her employer. Subsequently, she lost her job and her home.
She spelled out a horrific tale of abuse, bound to a cruel man for more than two decades who ripped her off and has left her with nothing.
“I would have been better off killing him,” she said, alluding to the alleged murder of State Police officer Melvin Paul Holbrook by his wife Joni in Frankfort. Six years or so of prison would have been better than more than 20 years of hell with her husband.
Interesting story? Yes. Difficult to approach? Extremely. Because each allegation of abuse in a story like this has to be backed up by court records or police reports for us to even begin reporting on it. Not to mention getting the husband’s side, which tends to be 180 degrees in the opposite direction with an entirely different set of allegations, all of which also have to be checked out.
You calculate the time it will take to invest in such a story and realize it may take weeks. And the outcome may not be what the person who contacted you desires, since there is, of course, always “another side to the story.”
In our current issue, for instance, investigative reporter Anne Stanton spent months tracking down information for her exclusive interview with Anne Avery Miller. There’s so much to this story and its side issues that it could easily fill a book. Many of the details in Anne’s article could be stand-alone stories on their own.
One can only imagine that there must be similar tales of woe and a stack of statements three feet high on the desk of every Friend of the Court in the nation.
So if justice sometimes goes astray in our court system, perhaps it’s because people tend to get themselves so deeply entangled in their domestic problems that the knots upon knots become impossible to unravel.
In the case cited above, I wondered why the woman didn’t simply walk away from her husband 10, 15, or even 20 years ago when she began to realize that he was a bad apple. Wouldn‘t that be better than regretting that you didn‘t kill someone you once professed to love?
But then, I’ve known many women who’ve stayed in abusive relationships for years for their kids’ sake. They know they can’t afford to raise their kids on their own, and if they bail out on their marriage they fear their husband will win custody.
Result? Unhappy stories with unhappy endings. Solution? I‘m no Ann Landers, but I would say, don’t tie that knot to begin with, because there are some bonds that no court or newspaper story can untie.

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