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..

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · The last daze of summer
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The last daze of summer

Robert Downes - August 31st, 2009
Random Thoughts
The Last Daze of Summer
Robert Downes 8/31/09

Remember the “Year Without A Summer”? Neither do I, because it happened in 1816. It was also called the “Year Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death.”
Crops failed throughout the U.S. and Europe -- killed off by frost and two huge snowstorms in June. Ice was reported on the lakes and rivers of Pennsylvania in July and August, and (if Wikipedia can be believed) there were temperature swings from as high as 95 degrees to near-freezing within the space of a few hours.
It was caused by the eruption of the Indonesian volcano Tambora in 1815. The biggest earth burp in 1,600 years filled the sky with ash that dampened the sun.
Then there’s our summer, which most agree was a dud, weather-wise.
The National Weather Service (NWS) notes in its monthly Climatological Report that it was abnormally cool across Michigan this summer. In July, when the Detroit area usually gets half of its 90-degree temperatures, the thermometer never got above 86.
“Only four times in Detroit’s climate record history have we failed to reach 87 in July and that was in 1875, 1907, 1992 and now 2009,” the report states. “Our July average of 68.9 degrees was more like the tip of northern lower Michigan than the metro Detroit area.”
Mid-state, temperatures were about 6.5 degrees below normal on the average, according to the NWS. You can extrapolate from those temps what this has meant for our shivery summer in Northern Michigan. For frustrated beach-goers, it seemed like it rained 10 weekends out of 12 this summer.
About the best you can say for this summer’s weather is that it was good for business. Unable to hit the beach, tourists turned out en masse at downtown stores and restaurants and soothed their sense of deprivation by reaching into their wallets.
But at this rate, the Ice Age cometh next June...
Other pet peeves & ruminations this summer:

• The “handling charge”: Everyone hates this trend: You buy tickets to an event at nose-bleed prices and are then told there’s a “handling charge” of a couple extra bucks. For what, no one seems to know. It‘s not like you‘re getting a back rub or something.
We attended the Cherry Festival Wine event this summer, paying $10 for half a glass of Riesling and a “handling charge” of an extra dollar. It was more of an insult than an injury, but it will be hard to “handle“ going back again next year.
• Locked in ‘79: Was there a single major act that played Northern Michigan this summer outside of Kid Rock or Big & Rich that didn’t have one foot 30 years in the past? A pity you had to go to Rothbury or Detroit to see something current, like usual.

• TC’s snooty factor: It‘s a tale of two cities: again this summer we got an earful of gush about what a well-heeled, high-toned crowd in attendance at the Film Festival;; meanwhile disparaging the “low-class“ people at the Cherry Festival, who have the gall to eat down at the Open Space food court instead of at our gourmet restaurants. (Please note, I‘m paraphrasing here...)
Then there‘s the claim by some downtown merchants that Cherry Festival-goers don‘t buy much beyond ice cream cones, resulting in “the worst week of the summer.“
I wonder if this isn‘t an urban legend that‘s caught on over the years, since I‘ve talked to several downtown restaurateurs and retailers who do great business during the Cherry Festival, although admittedly, they are not high-end operations.
“Snooty” is Northern Michigan’s new “ugly,” and you don’t have to go far to find it in upscale communities around the region, even in a recession. But it‘s hard to imagine that the elitists taking shots at the hoi polloi didn‘t come from working class roots themselves. Or at least their parents did. Let‘s play nice next year.

• The Mayonnaise Rule: Does this ever happen to you?
You tell your glaze-eyed waitperson that you don’t want any mayonnaise on your sandwich.
You (lying): “I’m deathly allergic to mayonnaise; it’s like a mix of anthrax and bird poop with a serious spider phobia thrown in.”
Waitperson: “Right, no mayonnaise.”
You (as the waitperson is walking away): “Oh, and did I mention no mayonnaise? Can’t remember if I said that...”
Waitperson: “Oh yeah, got it.”
You: “You sure you don’t want to write that down? It’s a lot to remember.”
Waitperson, looking irritated: “I got it. No mayonnaise!”
You: “Yeah, good, no mayonnaise. Thanks.”
Sandwich arrives... with mayonnaise.

Back in Biz: The credit crunch and banking crisis put many high-profile developments in the ditch over the past year or so: hotel schemes, condos and new retail developments in Petoskey, Suttons Bay and Traverse City were shelved for lack of capital.
Few were sorry to hear of a proposed 130-room hotel being put on hold in TC‘s Warehouse District, which is percolating with creative energy with the InsideOut Gallery, Right Brain Brewery, and the Cuppa‘ Joe Warehouse restaurant. Many believe a hotel on West Bayshore would ruin the Warehouse District, which might be better developed as something similar to Detroit‘s Greektown.
But now that the Obama Administration is declaring the credit crisis to be over, one can only wonder how many of these developments are shovel-ready once financing becomes available. At the Grand Traverse Commons in TC, for instance, a new luxury hotel is moving forward, along with a possible new brewpub. Northern Michigan is on the verge of a new spurt of growth.

Hostel Takeover? Various (bad) schemes have been tossed around for the renovation of the 61-room Whiting Hotel in downtown TC, including as a luxury “boutique” hotel, or for low-income housing. None have gained much traction so far, even though there is apparently funding available from the State for the makeover of the 115-year-old hotel.
So why not a hostel? A low-cost place that would welcome everyone from backpacking young adults to families on a budget, with wi-fi, a communal kitchen and bikes for loan in the heart of a vibrant city. Hostels welcome visitors in almost every city in the world at rates from $10-$50, yet they are lacking in Northern Michigan. At the very least, we need hostels in TC and Petoskey.

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