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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Random Thoughts: Motor City Shrink Wrap

Robert Downes - October 19th, 2009
Random Thoughts: Motor City Shrink Wrap
Robert Downes 10/19/09

These days, Detroit is the Incredible Shrinking City.
Back in the 1930s, when my grandmother lived there, Detroit was known as the “City of Trees” for its towering elms and forested boulevards. Although those trees were killed off in the ’60s and ’70s by Dutch elm disease, new fields and forests are taking root amid the ruin of the city.
Writing in a recent issue of Newsweek, Bill McGraw of the Detroit Free Press reported that Detroit has lost half its population since the 1950s. And, although its city limits encompass 138 square miles, “experts estimate that about 40 square miles are empty.”
That trend is increasing.
Thus, vegetable gardens are springing up, along with greenways and bikepaths, and there’s even a proposal for a farm within the city limits.
The decline of Detroit is also changing the landscape of Michigan politics.
For decades, outstate politicians had an “us versus them” mentality regarding the City of Detroit.
Often, this was a barely-concealed racism that sought to deny or punish the mostly-black residents of Motown. In the early ’80s, for instance, then-Governor Bill Milliken pushed hard for the Detroit People-Mover, which was originally conceived as an urban light-rail system running for three miles through the heart of the city. But outstate politicians shot the plan down and Detroit ended up with the rinky-dink equivalent of a toy train downtown, instead of a step forward in mass transit that could have revitalized the city.
On the other hand, there was justification for the rest of Michigan being reluctant to dig Detroit out of its perennial hole: Detroit became symbolic of a bottomless pit of social need, into which endless amounts of cash could be poured without any noticeable result. For instance, today, the Detroit Public School District has an annual budget of $1.2 billion, but the city leads the nation for high school drop-outs, with only 58 percent of students graduating.
For many outstate residents and even its own newspapers, Detroit was a huge “problem” that never seemed to have a solution or an end, no matter how many Renaissance Centers or stadiums or riverfront developments were built. Every few years, GM, Ford and the pizza titans would float new schemes for urban renewal downtown with the help of the State government, but it was always like trying to save a Stage 4 cancer patient who was more inclined towards a hospice bed than wellness.
Detroit’s own media has echoed this theme since the mid-’60s with endless stories along the lines of “Can This City Be Saved?”
But we haven’t heard much talk of “us versus them” in Michigan politics during the ’00s, quite possibly because Detroit is increasingly irrelevant to our state’s future. And the “problem” that no coalition of government and industry could ever seem to fix is solving itself by the city’s evaporation.
During the early 2000s, for instance, white collar workers surpassed blue collar workers in Detroit as industry fled the city. And today (with the exception of Ann Arbor) the robust communities of Michigan are all along the west coast: Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Traverse City/Petoskey. What’s left of the commercial side of “Detroit” is north of town in Oakland County.
Today, you see sad scenes of Detroit and Flint in magazine photo spreads, or in films such as Capitalism: A Love Story. The underlying message is that the “reason” for these cities’ existence no longer exists. No jobs, no cities.
But another way of looking at the situation is the Eastern idea of death and regeneration: something ill has to die before it can be reborn.
Consider that Thompsonville used to be the biggest town in Northern Michigan in the lumber era of the mid-1800s -- a thriving city with a bright future, served by railroads and nearby steamships --it dwarfed Traverse City. But today, it’s a virtual ghost town: after Benzie County’s trees were all chopped down, it turned out that the land around Thompsonville was less than ideal for farming and people moved on.
Northern Michigan is dotted wth such towns: in the Pigeon River Forest you can cross-country ski the Shingle Mill Pathway to an old ghost town called Cornwall Flats. Once, it was a place of lumberjacks, bucksaws and dreams; but today, all that remains is the foundation of an old mill, dimly glimpsed in the gloom of the forest.
So, is it sad that Detroit and other relics of the industrial era of the 1940s-’60s are wasting away? Or should we be happy that the residents of a failed city are moving on to brighter futures?
A more optimistic view would be that Detroit is simply re-inventing itself to the benefit of the entire state by downsizing and “greening” its neighborhoods. As writer McGraw notes: “Surrounded by fresh water, and buffeted by nature reasserting itself on land where factories used to be, Detroit could someday be the greenest, most livable urban area in the country. A city can dream, can’t it?”
That new, green city would be an asset to our state, not a problem.

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