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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On a roll: A couple discovers the romance of bicycling through Europe

Robert Downes - February 22nd, 2010
On a Roll: A couple discovers the romance of bicycling Europe
By Robert Downes
How do you combine romance with the spirit of adventure? For Casey
Stanton, 23, and Kristen Clauder, 22, it involved taking the trip of a
lifetime, having just finished a four-month bicycle tour of southern
A resident of Suttons Bay, Casey is an Internet marketer who used his
skills to create an extensive blog of their travels, while Kristen hails
from White Lake and is a college grad new on the job market. Here’s a
rundown of their trip:

NE: How many miles did you ride?
Casey Stanton: We just got back from our four-month bike trip from
September 17 to January 17 across Spain, France and Italy. Spain’s weather
was beautiful and we biked the entire Mediterranean coast, from a small
town north of Alicante all the way into the Pyrenees and into France.
The weather got cold and wet as we tried to climb up to Albi, France. Our
bikes clocked just over 1,000 miles during the trip. After Albi, we biked
to St. Affrique, trained to Montpillier, then on to Grenoble for
Thanksgiving with Kristen’s friend. We hopped trains to get to a 10-day
silent Vipassana meditation retreat between Florence and Bologna. Then we
trained down to our final host between Florence and Rome.
NE: Was this a honeymoon trip?
Stanton: Ha-hah. Nope. We’re just dating.

NE: How did you two meet?  
Stanton: Kristen and I met in a Native American Religion class at Michigan
State University in Spring of 2008.

NE: How did you prepare for the trip?
Stanton: We prepared by studying the blogs of some tourers, like
downtheroad.org, CrazyGuyOnABike, and asking everyone we could find.
Kristen and I canvassed the local bike shops in Lansing, Ann Arbor,
Traverse City and the Detroit Metro area in order to find all the right
stuff for our trip.
I purchased my bike two years before I met Kristen, with the hope to go
touring one day. I planned a tour from Istanbul to Ireland with some guys
from England, but that turned out to be too expensive for a college
student. I slowly amassed my gear, getting my Ortleib panniers in 2008,
and getting as many miles under my Spandex as I could.
When I met Kristen, we biked a lot! I had a tandem on campus and we used
to ride quite a bit. During the early part of 2009, Kristen got herself a
Trek 1.2 in the perfect shade of blue. We had decided that we wanted to go
on an adventure after she graduated and thought that going by bike would
be the most fun and least expensive.
Kristen searched for all the right gear: Brooks B-17 saddles, Lone Peak
handlebar bags, clipless shoes, water bottle cages, lights, and 3 liter
CamelBak’s for hydration. All that was left were sleeping arrangements.
During a late-night eBay search, I found the perfect tent, the MSR Hubba
Hubba... Easy to set up, strong, and roomy. We had originally thought of
going with Hennessey Hammocks, but in retrospect, that would have been
really hard -- it’s difficult to find two-to-four trees close enough
together to set up the hammock!
Kristen moved back to her parents after graduation. We wanted to go for a
short tour before our big European bike ride, so we met in the Thumb of
Michigan and played around for five days. We tested our gear, honed our
ninja camping skills, and made some delicious oatmeal on the stove. Five
days flew by, and we felt like we were really ready!

NE: Why did you decide to bike through southern Europe?
Stanton: When Kristen and I chatted, we said “Let’s go for awhile. A
couple months.” Then we decided that four months sounded good. No real
reason; maybe because it was more than 100 days, or because we thought it
would be crazy to be gone that long.
Our next stop was to look at a map and see where to go. I studied Spanish
in high school and in college for a semester, so I was comfortable with
it. Spain looked good. But four months in Spain was too much. We looked at
a map and said “Rome looks good. Let’s go from Spain to Rome. Madrid.
Yeah, let’s go there.” Next, we talked to Patty at Passageways about
tickets. To our luck, British Airways flies all bicycles for free. We
grabbed tickets for $650 each, including a few cocktails on the trips
NE: Was it tough biking through the mountains or through Europe?
Stanton: The mountains between Spain and France were actually really easy
-- we took a pass from Figueres (Salvidor Dali’s hometown) to  Perpignan
France, which was all downhill! I’d hate to do it the other way. We must
have coasted at 45km/hour for 30 minutes. A beautiful sight heading into

NE: Did you camp much or mostly stay at inns?
Stanton: We camped in Spain all the time. Sleeping in fields, public
gardens (in Girona), train stations, campgrounds, or even inside peoples’
homes who invited us in.
We had four long-stay hosts; one near Alicante, Spain, one near Barcelona,
another in Albi, France, and our final host between Florence and Rome. We
stayed at these peoples’ homes and were provided food and a bed for
four-five hours of work a day, five days a week. The work ranged from
picking kiwi to turning out a horse bed. We had afternoons to ourselves
and traveled and explored the countryside and cities whenever we could.
The bikes were great to get us to the train stations, down to the local
watering hole, or out to the middle of nowhere.

NE: Was it expensive?
Stanton: When we were cycling in Spain, it wasn’t too expensive. We’d
spend on average, $50-60 a day total, unless we had to pay to sleep. We’d
shower in the oceans, eat at the supermarket, and relax on the beaches.
When we got into Italy, we spent a lot of time in hostels due to the nasty
weather and lack of safety in the big town for all of our gear. When we
were at the hosts, we’d spend less than $50 a week, unless we wanted to
leave and have dinner together.

NE: Funniest moment?
Stanton: We’ve had a ton of funny moments. Being together for four months
straight and not having anyone to openly talk with in our native tongue,
we had a million inside jokes. One constantly funny thing was the way
people looked at us when we were hauling around our gear. Kristen and I
would catch their eyes and they’d always give the same ‘daaaaaaaaaaamn’
facial expression, then do this hand motion that looked like they were
packing a Skoal can.

NE: Did you run into any bad situations?
Stanton: Nothing bad, just some serious challenges.

Check out Casey & Kristen’s blog at http://www.rawandfit.com/biketour/

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