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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Michigan still looking for a leader

Robert Downes - June 15th, 2009
Michigan still looking for a leader
Robert Downes 6/15/09
Each spring in Michigan, you know that the season has finally turned when you see the first crocus flowers starting to bloom, often while there is still snow on the ground.
And so it is with state politics, where some of the hardier specimens of Michigan’s long, dark night are starting to blossom with the hope of being elected governor in 2010, after eight years of Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Love her or hate her, you‘ve got to admit Gov. Granholm was dealt a dead man‘s hand when she became Michigan‘s first female governor in 2003. She inherited a $1.7 billion budget deficit from Gov. John Engler, and it’s been downhill ever since with the meltdown of the auto industry, the loss of 140,000 manufacturing jobs, and budget deficits of $1-$2 billion each year. One can only imagine that Gov. Granholm will be happy to say “Take this job and shove it” on her way out the door.
But who will replace her? And who is up to the task? Michigan now occupies ‘last place’ in the nation for job opportunities. Michigan is also the only state in the nation to have experienced negative economic growth for 10 years in a row.
So far, we have a collection of “Great Unknowns” at the gate -- and untested, to boot.
Some might even say uninspiring.
Take Lt. Governor John Cherry, Jr., who is the presumptive Democratic frontrunner. Recently, an Express reader (and a Democrat) wrote in to note that Cherry has been pretty much missing in action these past eight years. Most of us know a lot more about Jon & Kate Plus Eight than we do John Cherry, and he’s had eight years to get his game on.
“I’d really like to see a story on what Lt. Governor Cherry has been doing for the past decade,” he wrote. “He’s had a marvelous pulpit from which to improve the lives of his constituents (and his name and face recognition) and as far as I can tell, he has done nothing.”
It makes you wonder, what does a lieutenant governor do?
Not much. If you go to Lt. Gov. Cherry’s web page at www.michigan.gov, you’ll find that he’s taken on a few ho-hum duties, such as investigating Chronic Wasting Disease in deer and elk. He is also a member of commissions on higher education, the Great Lakes and such, so perhaps he should be lauded for sitting through what must be some very dull meetings.
And recently, Cherry announced that a workgroup under his leadership “identified seven core functions of government,” such as public safety and education, which may be helpful to know in Lansing.
Cherry and his workgroup could have asked a junior high school civics class to come up with this report, saving the taxpayers the cost of bothering to write it down, but that’s what Lt. Govs do to earn their $123,900 salary per year, plus $20,000 expense account. Perhaps he could run on the platform of eliminating the lieutenant governor’s position, if elected.
On the other side of the aisle, Congressman Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland is the lead candidate for the Republicans.
Sad to say, most of the news releases Rep. Hoekstra issues involve a lot of carping and complaining about the Obama administration, with few constructive ideas for Michigan.
Even his complaints seem simplistic.
“Washington should not be in the business of running companies,” Hoekstra says in a release regarding the GM bankruptcy, adding that if we don’t watch out, GM and Chrysler could end up turning into another Amtrak, heavily-subsidized by the taxpayers.
Maybe. But what’s the alternative to trying a last-ditch effort to save America’s auto industry? Let the remaining 55,000 GM workers in Michigan go bust, along with all of the car parts suppliers? Let the empty factories stand there and rot? Under the latest plan, the American people will have a temporary, 60 percent ownership of GM until the company can get back on its feet.
Hoekstra also complains that the Obama administration is forcing automakers to improve the fuel efficiency of their cars: up to 39 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for light trucks by 2016. Like that‘s a bad thing.
In Hoekstra’s view, forcing carmakers to improve mileage could result in more job losses hemorrhaging in Michigan. Perhaps he hasn’t noticed all of the people buying those high-mileage JAPANESE cars.
At times, Hoekstra even gets simple-minded, as in a June 2 news release when he claims that moving prisoners from Guantanamo to Supermax prisons in the U.S. would be bringing terrorists into the “neighborhoods” of America.
The last I heard, few of us live in Supermax prisons where (barring an asteroid strike) there’s not a ghost of a chance of escaping from the “neighborhood.“ Try it and see.
And so it goes. At a recent debate between gubernatorial candidates on Mackinac Island, Crain’s Business News reported that the exchange of ideas was “long on civility and sometimes short on specifics.”
What Michigan needs is our own Barack Obama. A go-getter with superior intelligence, bold ideas, charisma and a steady hand working both sides of the political aisle. Someone who takes action with the verve of a jackhammer each day, instead of the partisan complaining that is the bone and gristle of politics in Lansing. Someone who has ideas beyond just tax cuts as an all-purpose cure-all (the Republicans) or pandering to state unions (the Democrats). Someone who can save us from ourselves.
President Obama, do you have any cousins out there you could send our way? Because those flowers we thought were crocuses are starting to look like skunk cabbages.

Cash for Clunkers
Calling all clunker owners: You‘ve got a year to trade in your old wreck of a car or truck to receive up to $4,500 on the purchase of a new fuel-efficient vehicle.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed “Cash for Clunkers“ legislation, hoping to spur U.S. auto sales and reduce air pollution to boot. A similar idea worked well in Germany, where auto sales shot up 40 percent.
For the next year, Uncle Sam will make $4 billion available for the trade-in program, hoping to generate sales of one million vehicles while saving 250,000 gallons of gas.
If you have a car or light truck that gets less than 18 mpg, or a large pickup that gets less than 15 mpg, you can receive a voucher worth $4,500 towards a new vehicle that gets at least four miles per gallon better mileage.
One problem: because of U.S. entanglements with world trade agreements, apparently, you can use that voucher to purchase a foreign vehicle, which means that taxpayers will be subsidizing some purchases from Toyota, Honda or Subaru. Even the new Ford Fusion is 100 percent made-in-Mexico, and other U.S. cars have drivetrains made in Japan, etc.
Here, Rep. Pete Hoekstra comes through with a better idea: he has proposed legislation that would provide a nonrefundable $3,000 tax credit for the purchase of any American-made vehicle in 2009. That would boost our auto industry and keep our dollars at home.

Check out Bob Downes unplugged with Jim Moore and Acoustic Dynamite at Left Foot Charley‘s patio at Building 50 in TC, Friday, June 19 from 6-8 p.m.

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