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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Christmas grab bag

Robert Downes - December 21st, 2009
Christmas Grab Bag
Something to Carp About
Do you lie awake nights, worrying about the Asian carp menace and its
possible migration into the Great Lakes?
Relax, we’re probably screwed on this one any way you look at it.
These carp reach up to four feet in length and weigh up to 100 lbs.
They reproduce like rabbits and eat like elephants, gobbling up enough
food to equal 40% of their own body weight each day.
Two species of the Asian carp escaped when floodwaters engulfed a
couple of fish farms down South back in the ’90s. They’ve been making
their way up the Mississippi ever since, and threaten to enter Lake
Michigan by way of the Illinois River and Chicago Ship and Sanitary
According to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the carp have been
spotted approximately 40 miles from Lake Michigan. Once here, it’s
feared the ravenous fish will kill off other species and wreck the
Great Lakes’ $7 billion fishing industry.
An electrical barrier was established in the Chicago
canal in 2006. But, according to an article in the Detroit Free
Press, pressure from tugboat and barge operators kept it from being
turned on until last April. The fear was that sparks from the barrier
would electrocute boat operators, or possibly even set cargos on fire.
Eventually, the electrical barrier was turned on at one-quarter of
its power.
Currently, Senator Carl Levin is drumming up support in Congress to
have the canal sealed off by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But
this has aroused the wrath of barge operators, who transport 24
million tons of coal, oil and other items through the canal each year.
In any case, one might note that closing off the canal may not be a
deterrent for the Asian carp, for the same reason that you can find
other species of fish thriving in lakes that are hundreds of miles
from other water sources: birds.
This is one of those “Are you smarter than a fifth grader?”
observations, but one can only imagine that any elementary school
science class is aware that fish commonly travel long distances
overland through the help of birds.
How? “Tiny fish eggs attach to the legs of birds that are visiting
populated ponds, then come off into the new ponds and hatch there,”
according to a website called askabiologist.org.
In our case, seagulls picking at the corpses of dead carp will most
likely bring some fish eggs up to Lake Michigan.
Flooding rivers also allow fish to travel long distances. Hmmm,
weren’t there some major floods in Illinois last year?
You can close the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal, or electrify it to
its maximum voltage, but either way -- as was the Chaos Theory lesson
in Jurassic Park -- this monster fish would seem likely to become a
guest of the Great Lakes in the very near future, no matter what we do
to stop it.

A Whiff of Britney
Funny what you learn each year while Christmas shopping. On a whim, I
wandered through a department store’s cosmetics aisle, looking for
some perfume for my wife, and found that just about every fragrance
was modeled around some movie star or pop singer. We’re talking about
$30-$40 perfumes from Britney Spears, Faith Hill, Paris Hilton, Liz
Taylor, J Lo and Halle Berry. And men’s colognes too, if you wish to
wear the scent of David Beckham, Usher, Sean Combs, Prince or Antonio
Each to their own, but the idea of splashing some Derek Jeter on
myself each day (with “the aroma of chilled grapefruit, black pepper
and oak moss”) seems kind of skanky...

Reconsidering Term Limits
Michigan voters established term limits for state legislators back in
1992 in an attempt to keep lawmakers from getting too cozy with
special interests and lobbyists.
Currently, however, there’s some retro thinking on this matter that
argues that term limits have been destructive to Michigan because we
keep putting inexperienced people in office. The new lawmakers mean
well, but they‘re poorly equipped to handle the task of forging our
state’s $40 billion budget each year.
State Rep. Timothy Bledsoe (D-Grosse Pointe) notes that there are
currently 44 freshmen out of 110 members in the State House of
Representatives and that 29 of 38 Senate seats will turn over next
This high level of inexperience, lack of trust, partisanship, and lack
of long-term relationships has been widely blamed for this fall’s
budget fiasco in Lansing, where newcomers were more inclined to play
games with the governor and each other than create a balanced budget.
One newspaper editorial notes that the budget disaster made Michigan
“a laughingstock around the country.”
“More than ever, we need capable and experienced leadership in
Lansing, yet due to term limits we continually replace one group of
leaders with another,” Rep. Bledsoe wrote in a recent editorial.
He adds that making collective decisions (like hammering out the
State budget) requires the “building of coalitions and cooperative
relationships unlike anything in the hierarchal corporate world.
“Mutual trust is the cornerstone of these relationships,“ Bledsoe
adds. “Yet trust evolves only from prior shared experiences and
anticipated future dealings. In other words, I trust you because I
have dealt with you before and you have shown yourself to be
trustworthy, and because I anticipate future interactions with you
where our mutual needs will be at stake. To have a relationship of
trust, two individuals must have a past and they must anticipate a
Makes sense -- if you trust your legislators not to be corrupted by
special interests by remaining in office too long, that is. Been
there, done that...
Bledsoe will present voters with an initiative to change term limits
next year, allowing legislators to serve up to 14 years. He points
out that two of Michigan’s last three budgets have suffered from an
absence of experienced leadership in Lansing, making a strong argument
to get surer hands on the reins of government.

Robert Downes is the author of Planet Backpacker, a global travel
adventure, available at area bookstores, amazon.com, or
www.planetbackpacker.net .

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