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 · Where in the world is Jimmy...
. . . .

Where in the world is Jimmy Hoffa?

Anne Stanton - December 21st, 2009
Jimmy Hoffa
Where Are You?
Perhaps an affluent Cadillac subdivision
By Anne Stanton
On a pretty, sunny afternoon 34 years ago, Pete Smith was at work
building a cabin in the woods north of Cadillac near M-55 and 33 Road.
Smith, a strapping 23-year-old, was running low on logs. He hopped in
his truck and went on a quiet ride down a two-track looking for more.
Twenty minutes later, he came upon a couple of well-dressed Italian
guys dressed in black. His first thought: they were definitely out of
place in the woods.
A taller man was closing the trunk of a large shiny black car—maybe an
Oldsmobile or Buick—with a red interior. At the same time, a second
shorter man was emerging out of the edge of the woods. Their black
hair was slicked straight back.
The men met eyes with Smith and nodded. Smith waved and drove away.
Smith suspected he had stumbled upon two gangsters and feared for his
life. His heart racing, he drove to the dead-end of the two-track, out
of sight of the men, and didn’t leave for 45 minutes.
Once he thought it was safe, Smith returned to the spot and walked in
the direction of where he saw the shorter man. After about 25 minutes,
he came upon what appeared to be a freshly dug circle grave about
seven or eight feet in diameter. “It was obvious someone was buried
there,” he said. “Then it hit me. There’s a body here. It dawned upon
me that this was two days after Jimmy Hoffa went missing. This could
be something.”

Hoffa, once the powerful president of the Teamster’s Union with
mobster connections, suddenly disappeared on July 30, 1975, never to
be seen again. Smith believes the mobsters chose this remote spot to
bury a body, thinking it was part of the Manistee National Forest. In
fact, the property belonged to his dad, who had recently bought it
from the state.
Smith didn’t take a picture nor did he report the incident to the
cops, not wanting to get involved. Instead he kept quiet until about a
year ago, when he went to the Michigan State Police in Cadillac , who
then referred the case to Agent Robert Birdsong of the Federal Bureau
of Investigation in Traverse City. The grave—if that’s what it is—now
lies in a wooded area of pines and maples in front of a $500,000 home.
Last summer, the FBI contacted the property owner where the body is
allegedly buried, but the owner has refused to let them come on the
“We don’t discuss ongoing cases,” said FBI spokesperson Sandra
Berchtold. “That’s pretty much all we can say. If we do get new leads,
we investigate those leads. Murder has no statute of limitations. We
would have to have probable cause to draft a search warrant and
present it to the general magistrate and get permission to go on the
land. … We follow all leads until the leads are exhausted.”
Smith’s call to the Express was his first outreach to the media, but
he said that over the years, he’s told his close friends and the
property owner about his suspicions. For many years after he came
across the grave, he would visit the site to see if it had been dug
up, but it remained untouched.
Smith requested that the exact location not be published, so as not to
cause undue hardship on the property owner, who he wanted to remain
publicly unnamed.

At first, Smith told no one about what he’d seen. He thought to
himself that he’d dig it up, but he wanted to finish building his
cabin before deer season started. Then it was winter and the ground
froze too hard to dig.
Smith’s life was overtaken by work the next year as he began to design
a golf course. And over the next two decades, he remained busy as he
designed another golf course, developed a subdivision around the golf
course, married and raised a family. In short, there just never seemed
to be enough time. “I had a backhoe, a dozer, everything I needed to
dig it up. I just didn’t do it. I always thought I’d get to it later.
I just procrastinated myself out of doing the whole thing. I screwed
up, swear to God, I should have told somebody,” he said.
Even in the 1990s, when he heard there was a $200,000 reward for
information about the Hoffa murder, he didn’t say anything. “I don’t
know why. I just had a lot of things going.”
In 1995, a beautiful house was built on the lot containing the burial
site; Smith told the new owner about the makeshift grave he’d seen.
Smith eventually marked the site with a large rock. At first, the
property owner thought it “was kind of cool,” but over the years he
became much less open to talking about it, Smith said.
About six years ago, when Smith’s work had slowed down significantly,
he saw a television documentary that showed two suspects in the murder
and a car that might have been involved —it was black with a red
interior. “The men looked real familiar to the two people I saw. It
was 20 some years ago that I saw them in the woods, but it looked like
the same guys. I know it was the same car.”

After Smith had contacted the State
Police, he went to the spot himself with the property owner and
another friend while the ground was still partially frozen. Smith
tried to dig up the grave himself, but said his back was in horrible
pain. The other two men refused to help since they didn’t believe his
story and gave Smith a hard time.
The combined pain and humiliation caused Smith to give up after
making little progress.
A detective at the Michigan State Police Post in Cadillac said he told
Smith he wasn’t happy with his efforts to dig up the site. (He added,
however, that the property owner is free to dig up the area.) This
past summer, Smith met with FBI Agent Robert Birdsong in Traverse
City. “I told him (Birdsong) the story twice, and the third time he
told me they tried to get in and dig him up, but the owner didn’t
want anything to do with it, so they didn’t.”
The Cadillac-based detective said the case was referred from the
Traverse City FBI office to FBI officials in Detroit,
who determined there wasn’t evidence to justify a search warrant. He
said the case was cold, and authorities found it strange that Smith
had waited 34 years to report what he’d seen.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first connection to Jimmy Hoffa and
Northern Michigan. Jimmy Hoffa’s son was in Traverse City on the day
of his father’s murder, who was last seen that day at a Bloomfield
Hills restaurant at 2:45 p.m., according to a Hoffex Conference report
generated by the FBI in 1976.

Smith said he knows people will think he’s crazy, but he knows what he saw.
“I saw two guys in the middle of the woods. Definitely Italians.
Definitely doing something they shouldn’t be doing. I believe my story
should be told. If anybody else saw what I saw, they’d think the same
thing. Jimmy’s gotta be here.”
Could the Italians have buried someone other than Hoffa? Smith has
thought about that too.
“”Say you had a contract to kill Hoffa. You whack him, put him in the
garage. Are you immediately going to whack someone else? These people
are not whacking people every day. They’ve got a job going on.
They’ll solve this problem before they’ll go onto someone else.”
“I know it was a weird thing to see. I did it all wrong, but I saw
what I saw. This would help solve one of the biggest crimes of all
time. It was just on Entertainment —Hoffa was the fourth on the list
of the country’s 20 most unsolved crimes. I’ve heard about him,
‘Where’s Hoffa?’ on 30 shows. It’s the running joke, and I’m the only
guy in the world who knows where he’s buried at, besides the two guys
who buried him. But it’s like seeing a Martian. Even my own mother
can’t believe it.”
Your wife?
“Not really. She’s just tired of the whole thing. But I wouldn’t come
and waste my time and go through all this if I were lying. I’m telling
you the honest truth. I’d like to get this over with and find out
what’s buried there.”

Next week, Dan Moldea, author of Hoffa’s Wars, the critically
acclaimed 1978 book on the murder of Jimmy Hoffa, weighs in on Pete
Smith’s story.

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