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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A second chance on biomass

Robert Downes - May 17th, 2010
A second chance on biomass
What do rocket scientists do when a bad idea blows up on the launching
pad? They go back to the drawing board.
Last week’s announcement by the FAA that it would not approve plans
for a $30 million biomass power plant next to Cherry Capital Airport
in Traverse City confirmed the suspicions of critics that any number
of things could go wrong with a plan to burn the region’s forests for
electrical power.
You know: the seven truckloads per day of timber rumbling through
town, the smoke from the plant, what to do with the ash refuse, TCLP’s
dubious survey, the impact on our forests... all of this has been
discussed at length in recent months with warnings from the public
that have been resolutely ignored.
Yet hopefully, the FAA ruling will pull the community together to
discuss better alternatives for electrical power in the region.
At TCLP’s forum meetings, for instance, one got the feeling that wind
power was dismissed almost out of hand under the rationale that local
citizens might raise a fuss over wind towers. Why not find out for
sure before we ditch such an obvious alternative on our windy Great
And our region is preparing to spend as much as $30 million to remove
the hydroelectric dams on the Boardman River at a time when an
entrepreneur has requested a chance to renovate one of the dams with
private funding. Why not revisit that option before pulling the plug
on hydro power?
TLCP’s trump card in response to these questions is that neither would
provide the continuous ‘baseload’ power needed to supply Traverse
City. Although a natural gas plant could supply the necessary
baseload, supplemented by wind and water power, this too has been shot
down under the rationale that the cost of natural gas may rise in the
unforeseeable future.
So what the public has been served often seems to be a lot of ‘mights’
and ‘maybes’ in TLCP’s rebuke of wind, water and natural gas
resources. Yet, given that biomass has already been problematical from
the get-go, these options deserve a closer look.
In June, NMEAC (Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council) is
hosting a Smart Community Energy Initiative to seek better
alternatives for providing power to the area. If you’d like to get
involved, check out the details at http://nmeac.org or write

Black Like Me
A politicians’ habit of planting a token black American in the
background of a TV commercial for the sake of diversity has backfired
for one Michigan candidate for governor.
Derek Moss, who serves as vice chair of the Michigan Republican Party,
was surprised to find a commercial of himself walking with candidate
Mike Cox. The spot makes it look as if Moss is hanging onto every word
in an attack ad directed at Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who is also running
for governor.
Moss, who is black and is currently serving as an officer with the
U.S. Army National Guard in Kosovo, endorsed Republican candidate Rick
Snyder before heading overseas. He says he finds it “appalling that
he (Cox) is using my image in a shameful attack ad of another
candidate,” and that he is a “very proud” supporter of Snyder.
The clip of Moss was pulled from the ad last week.
It’s appropriate that minorities are included in political
commercials, but sometimes the stereotypes seem more funny than
Democrats, for instance, always seem to include male, middle-aged
factory workers in baseball caps, nodding earnestly as the candidate
explains his brilliant plan for “change.” Possibly, this is meant to
shore up ambivalence toward the party by all of the so-called angry
white men out there.
And you get the impression that events such as the Republican response
to the annual State of the Union speech would be as doughy white as
the audience of Rush Limbaugh’s old TV talk show, were it not for a
few minority representatives carefully inserted at strategic camera
angles in the crowd.
Anyone want to bet that a lot more Latinos will be showing up in the
campaign commercials of both parties this fall?

But is it eco-logical?
Is it possible to be “eco-industrial,” or is that the ultimate oxymoron?
In any event, the Gaylord Herald-Times reports that a group known as
Eco Park Partners, LLC hopes to establish Michigan‘s “flagship”
eco-industrial park with a new biomass plant, lumber yard and wood
pellet factory at the site of the former Georgia-Pacific plywood
This will include $120 to $152 million in private investment on the
933-acre site and the developers plan to create a Center for
Environmentally Sustainable Studies aimed at creating “green jobs,
power generation and development of eco-industrial parks.”
Taken with all of the other overlapping biomass plans for Michigan, it
makes you wonder how long it will be before Northern Michigan and the
U.P. are denuded of their forests and as drab as the southern half of
the state?
Even in job-hungry Gaylord, not everyone is thrilled with the idea.
Here’s an abridged quote by a blogger named Guillermo on the
Herald-Times website: “Biomass? What a joke... Like the one I heard
about corn ethanol. Burning our food in our Hummers? This is another
step toward Michigan whoring-out its commonweal (forests, in this
case) in the name of ‘Progress’ (read: rich get richer).”

Check out Robert Downes’ travel website/blog at www.planetbackpacker.net

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