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 · Features · SOAPBOX COALITION Empowers...
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SOAPBOX COALITION Empowers Northern Michigan‘s Young People

Andy Taylor - August 26th, 2004
Few people can forget what happened in the election of 2000. Even though it has been said time and again, only after an election that was too close to call did everyone realize how important each vote was.
What was most shameful was the fact that the future leaders of this country, in the 18-30 years old category, did not show up to the polls. Less than half of the 50 million U.S. citizens in this younger age range cast their vote in November of 2000.
This November we have an election that could be just as close as that of 2000. With the help of groups like the Soapbox Coalition, the goal is to make sure that many of those 18-30-year-olds who did not vote in the last election, make it out to the polls this November.
“Soapbox’s goal is to educate, motivate and mobilize 18-to-30-year-olds in the political process and just get them involved. We want to show them different avenues to get involved in politics,” says Scott O’Leary, regional ambassador for the coalition.

In a time when so many groups and committees who claim to be non-partisan are anything but, it seems as though Soapbox genuinely holds to that credo. According to O’Leary, the local chapter is made up of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans.
He adds that the organizing members have even had some pretty heated debates.
“I don’t really like to talk about (my personal views) because I don’t want people to think that it might overshadow the purpose of our organization. I could tell you that mine are even different from all our members and our president and our executive director. We all have very different views but under the banner of soapbox we try to put all that aside and increase issue awareness and voter turnout,” O’Leary says.
Because of this outlook, Soapbox never takes a stance on an issue. Instead the group points out certain issues and says that they must be addressed instead of telling its members how to address the situation.
“Most young adults do not want to promote the agendas of others,” Mitchell says. “They want help transitioning into young voters -- without being told how to vote.”
The organization was started in January of 2004 by Mike Mitchell who began his career interning in the office of U.S. Sen. Paul D. Coverdell (R-GA). Mitchell found that, even though he was working in Washington, he was not being heard. “Even working in the Capital, I was getting ignored,” he says. “Other politicians would not pay attention to issues important to me until I told them I worked for Senator Coverdell.”

With the goal of starting a nonpartisan, political action group Mitchell spent five years prior to 2004 planning and raising funds until the group got off the ground. So far, people seem pleased with the results.
“Usually we have found that once we get people at our events, they are pretty enthusiastic. Once they come once, many of them come pretty much every event,” O’Leary says.
Currently, there are around 70 active members involved with the Traverse City chapter.
Soapbox sponsors a couple of events in the area and has plans to branch out gradually in the future. “We’re very happy to (have co-sponsored) the event at the Loading Dock with a voter registration and awareness concert as well as the following Sunday as well,” O’Leary adds.
There are also regular meetings where members can debate and discuss a multitude of issues. “We do have a weekly happy hour which we host for our active and new members. We’re actually inbetween locations right now and we’ll be letting our members know and passing out flyers as soon as we do set that up. Probably in a week or two and we usually do that on a Tuesday from about 5 or 6 until 8 p.m.,” he says.

With awareness being one of the main goals, the organization is sponsoring debates between local candidates with the hope that young voters will have a better knowledge of the candidates running in local elections.O’Leary says general information forums are also an emphasis.
“We are in the basic planning stages of hosting a candidate debate between Barbra Budros and John Foresman who are both running for judge here locally.
We’re looking to do that with other candidates as well if they’re interested -- hosting debates or with what we did at the Dennos Museum when we had an open forum. What we did there was we had the Republican, the Democratic and the Green Party county chairs come in and it wasn’t a debate -- it was more giving them each 15 minutes to explain what their positions were, how they personally got involved in politics, that kind of thing. After that we had a question and answer session. It actually went fairly well. We had a decent turnout.”
As the election approaches, surprisingly enough, voter registration is not seen as the biggest emphasis at this point in the year for Soapbox, according to O’Leary.
“Locally, voter registration is fairly high. I’ve heard as high as in the ninety percentiles. Where I live in East Bay Township it’s right around 84 percent because of the Motor Voter law that was enacted with the driver license renewal being on the same form as voter registration,” he says.

But there is a problem with registration that has nothing to do with getting unregistered voters to register.
“Even (those numbers) are kind of misleading because I went in knowing that I had registered to vote before, but I used the online checking program to see how accurate it was and they had no record of me being registered. I went in to the township clerk and they only had my family -- so there must have been an error in my form which actually happens a lot because I’ve been talking to other people locally and they had the exact same thing happen. So even though 85% might be high, that could even be misleading because people think they’re registered but they’re not.”
Essentially, the statistics regarding the number of registered voters should be even higher.
So, O’Leary says, it’s never a bad idea to check with your township clerk to make sure you are on the list.
“A lot of people think they’re registered but even if there is one small mistake, it throws out your ballot. So it’s always good to do the double check and make sure you have your voting card with you.”

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