Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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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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