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 · Region Watch · Medical Marijuana Case...
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Medical Marijuana Case Heads to Trial: Civil Disobedience Case could have Statewide Impact

Eartha Melzer - July 15th, 2004
There was a pony-tailed man with a pinwheel among the crowd gathered to support multiple sclerosis sufferer and medicinal marijuana user Matthew Barber at the court house on Tuesday, July 6. But there was also a former magistrate, a kindergarten teacher and a retired cop at the rally. And no tie-dye in sight.
Inside the courthouse, employees wondered what the big deal was -- marijuana possession cases are not typically crowded affairs -- but the lobby was full, there were note-taking reporters and a camera crew and the judges looked apprehensive.
Nine states have legalized the medicinal use of marijuana -- some for only a few narrowly defined ailments, and in California for any condition a doctor feels appropriate.
In August, voters in Detroit will vote on a ballot initiative that would make medical use of marijuana legal. Ann Arbor voters face a similar proposal in November.
In Traverse City, Barber faces a maximum $2,000 fine and a year in jail for possession of marijuana.

Prosecutor Dennis LaBelle said that when this case goes to trial his office plans to file a motion to suppress all discussion of the medicinal use of marijuana.
LaBelle doesn’t want to see the 12-foot-long file that chronicles Barber’s struggle with MS. He doesn’t want to hear the gruesome details of the failed treatment attempts. He doesn’t want jurors to know that a doctor recommended Barber use marijuana and that the New England Journal of Medicine has endorsed the medical use of marijuana for terminally and seriously ill patients.
“He (Barber) is in a very difficult position,” said Tim Beck, chairman of the Detroit Coalition for Compassionate Care, the group sponsoring the Detroit initiative. There has never been a full test of the medical necessity defense in Michigan.
Beck laid out some history:
Peter McWilliams, author of “Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do: the Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in America,” used marijuana to control the violent nausea caused by his AIDS treatment drugs. Arrested and charged with possession of marijuana in Wayne County, he argued that his marijuana use was medically necessary and introduced medical evidence. The district court where he was charged moved the case to circuit court, where the judge, Kim Worthy, allowed the necessity defense. The prosecution appealed and the case went to a court of appeals, which overturned Worthy’s ruling. McWilliams appealed to the Michigan State Supreme Court but before the case could be heard he died in jail -- his nausea uncontrolled, he asphyxiated on vomit.

According to a jail study commissioned by Grand Traverse County, 95% of people charged with crimes in the county plead guilty. Only a tiny portion of cases ever go to trial. Barber wants to fight his possession of marijuana charge even though he admits using marijuana and says he will not stop using it. He is committing an act of civil disobedience and hopes to present his story to a jury of his peers who will have mercy on him.
Dan Solano, a member of Police for Drug Law Reform, was in the courthouse to support Barber. He compared the struggle for medical marijuana to past civil rights movements. It took a lot of organizing and Native Americans didn’t have the right to vote in this country until the 1930s, he pointed out. Veteran civil rights activist and attorney Dean Robb sees the case in a similar light.
“In the civil rights movement they were breaking laws because they were racist laws,” said Robb.
In some cases this would lead to “jury nullification,” where a jury acquits the defendant because the law is unjust.
“Though they are not often told this, juries have the right to decide cases based on common sense,” said professor Ann Fagan Ginger, author of “Jury Selection in Civil and Criminal Trials,” speaking from her home in California.
Although medical marijuana use is illegal in Michigan, a 1996 national opinion poll sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union found that 85% of people surveyed favor the idea of making marijuana legally available for medical uses where it has been proven effective for treating a problem.

GRAND PLANS: In just over one year of ownership by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, close to $5 million in renovations have been completed at the 660-room, 900-acre Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Acme.
Overall, renovations and upgrades are expected to total $10 in a three-phase makeover. Wireless high speed Internet access installed in all hotel and tower guest rooms was the finishing touch to the most recent renovations completed in June as part of phase two. Approximately $5 million is planned to be spent in phase three between November 2004 and June 2005 renovating all 186 guest rooms in the Tower as well as the Trillium Restaurant and Lounge.

SHOW US THE MONEY: Congressman Bart Stupak wants to know how Homeland Security grants have been spent, particularly in Northern Michigan where funds have been lacking.
“After 9/11, the nation finally realized what we in law enforcement have known for years -- that there was a huge gap in how we respond to natural and terrorist-related disasters,” said Stupak in a release. “First responder agencies could not talk to each other and that inability to communicate was a key factor in the deaths of at least 121 firefighters. But since then, it appears very little has been done to address this gaping hole in our national security.”
Out of $4.4 billion allotted to Homeland Security, grants totalling $100 million were supposed to help improve communication between police, firefighters and other agencies in case of a terrorist attack. But Stupak says that Northern Michigan has seen little in the way of funding.
“Where has the money gone? No one seems to be able to give me a specific answer. Meanwhile, the first responders in my large, rural border district are struggling to find the resources to make these upgrades, and they’re coming up with very little,” said Stupak. “Something is very wrong when we make these demands of our first responders but then fail to provide them the resources to meet them.”
Stupak is currently working with a Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee to track down funding information and route dollars to the region.

MERCURY MENACE: Every lake within Michigan is contaminated with toxic mercury pollution emitted by coal-burning power plants, according to PIRGIM, a public interest group with an environmental focus.
Even though enforcing the Clean Air Act would require coal-burning power plants to reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent, the Bush administration recently proposed to allow six times more mercury than that into the air every year for the next decade, claims Megan Owens, a PIRGIM field director. “Michigan’s power plants emit over 2,500 pounds of mercury into our environment every year. Wisconsin’s power plants emits approximately 2,000 pounds of mercury, some of which ends up in Michigan’s lakes and rivers.”
She claims the Bush administration’s proposal would put millions of children at
elevated risk of learning disabilities and other neurological disorders – including effects of mercury exposure in the womb. One in six women of childbearing age has levels of mercury in her blood that are unsafe for a developing fetus.
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