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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- February 8th, 2010
Where guns shouldn‘t go
Having read the article in the February 1 issue of Northern Express
titled Christine goes to jail, I must say that I have a hard time
having any sympathy for Ms. Blackledge. While I support her right to
carry a firearm and certainly understand why she does, she made a very
bad mistake. My 5-year-old daughter and my wife fly out of Traverse
City airport on a regular basis to go visit Grandma in another state.
If anyone brings a gun to the airport I want them and the gun removed
The decision to carry a firearm is a HUGE responsibility. If Ms.
Blackledge (or anyone for that matter) isn’t responsible enough to
manage that firearm properly then they must suffer the consequences.
While her case may have been handled poorly I suggest that Ms.
Blackledge use that as a learning experience and be more responsible
in the future.

Tom Speers • Fife Lake

Guns and poses
With her usual ardor to find others responsible for a person’s
misfortunes, Anne Stanton did it again in her article on Christine
Blackledge and her gun (2/1/10). There are the usual villains in her
story–the overzealous prosecutor, the hard-hearted jailers, the rigid
judge, the bumbling and expensive lawyer. In the process, she missed
all the valuable lessons.
If we look for real lessons, there are several salient ones. First,
carrying a gun tends to create more problems than it solves. This
story is Exhibit A. Second, carrying guns contributes to lawlessness.
This very gun had been stolen and was in the hands of drug dealers for
seven years, according to the article. Third, guns don’t protect. She
was a victim of violence at the point of a gun, and by then, another
gun was going to do her no good. Perhaps we could have had a wild-west
style shootout with two victims.
As a practical matter, most of us are more likely to be struck by
lightning than we are to be victims of a crime that a handgun would
prevent. How many people do you see walking around with a lightning
rod on their heads? It would be a more rational act than carrying a

Chris Campbell • TC

Beyond bike lanes
“Complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for
all users.” This philosophy is in the Traverse City infrastructure
policy. As more of us think about the future of our streets, and with
several road construction projects slated for the coming months, there
is good reason to start applying this principal now. Why? Projects
to be completed in 2010 will have an impact on the quality of life in
Traverse City for many decades to come.
Although the city has made moves to work with MDOT on shared roadways
like Division St. and Grandview Ave., streets under sole jurisdiction
of the city remain unchanged. A primary example includes the section
of Eighth Street from Lake St. to Garfield Ave. which seem to be
considered non-negotiable by the city. Meanwhile, Eighth Street
continues to be treated and designed to actually discourage
non-motorized traffic. What gives?
I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument about why this neighborhood
street should remain a car-only strip. City residents and visitors
choosing to walk or bicycle to the homes and businesses along this
route need to be able to do so with an expectation of basic comfort,
convenience and safety. The argument that there are other routes
available to those users ignores the fact that this is the most direct
route across town, that there are destinations along Eighth Street,
and that this remains a neighborhood street despite the fact that
signage meant to discourage cars from exceeding 25mph is itself, too
often ignored.
Two blocks of Eighth St. from Barlow St. to Garfield Ave. is slated
for reconstruction in 2010. This is an excellent opportunity for the
city to be pro-active on the matter of how our streets serve this
community. What if our city was fully committed to designing for calm
streets that provide for all modes of transportation choices? It’s
what city residents have asked for, and worked for, and what has
proven elsewhere to be an engine of economic growth, community
cohesion and sustainable development.
Regrettably, the current design slated for implementation this spring
includes none of the above considerations. Mayor Chris Bzdok has taken
a courageous, but difficult lead on questioning staff and challenging
other commissioners to show leadership on this issue. He has re-capped
the project’s history on www.PlanforTC.com.
It might be too late for a short-term fix, but the time couldn’t be
better to have a community discussion. Do we want to build a city that
values each neighborhood as a place to visit and is convenient for
multiple modes of transportation? Or, do we want portions of the city
to be devoted solely to accommodating automobiles? If we are to have
this debate, and I hope we will, it is best we have it today and not
in 20 years.

Gary L Howe • editor, MyWheelsareTurning.com

Why no bike lanes?
A couple of weeks ago the cycling community in Traverse City found out
about a plan to dig up 8th Street for a $850,000 (approximate price
tag) sewer and water, and repaving project that is funded in part by
$230,000 in Federal Stimulus funds.
As knowledge of the project began to find its way through the
community grapevine, more questions than answers were heard, such as
why the public didn’t hear about this until the deal was sealed
between city planner Tim Lodge and MDOT. And why are bike lanes and
safe street crossings not included in the reconstruction plan?
Traverse City boasts the largest trail and bike advocacy organization
in Michigan and one of the nation’s largest bike clubs. Because of
this, the League of American Cyclists presented Traverse City their
Bronze Award as a Bike Friendly Community. Traverse City is only the
second city in Michigan to receive this distinction.
The Grand Vision Transportation Working Group has been working to
expand infrastructure serving pedestrians and bicyclists both in and
out of town.
The City of Traverse City endorsed “Complete Streets,” a plan that
requires the State roadway system to accommodate safely all users of
the public right-of-way, including pedestrians, people requiring
mobility aids, and bicyclists.
No matter how you examine the question, community consensus
overwhelmingly seeks accessible and bikeable roadways as well as safe
crossing areas that are conspicuously absent in the 8th Street plan as
it has been contracted. If we are not able to implement the will of
the community to create an accessible Traverse City now, when will it
happen? This street project, if allowed to move forward as planned
will prevent improvements the community is demanding in this corridor
for at least the next 20 years. This plan clearly does not reflect the
will of the people who have contributed thousands of volunteer hours
developing a plan that meets the needs and desires of the people who
live and work in Traverse City.

M‘Lynn Hartwell • TC

Avatar‘s lesson
I would like to respond to the “Avatar Brainwashing” letter in the
January 25th edition of the Northern Express.
I would hardly consider Avatar a brainwashing-type of movie. Avatar
doesn’t brand people of the American military as incredibly selfish
evil-doers who only care about harming gentle native people; it merely
reflects what happened here in this country when America first formed,
much like Disney’s Pocahontas showed us years ago. But I don’t see
anyone ranting about that movie; probably because the basis of the
story actually happened, when we forced thousands of Native Americans
out of their lands and forced them to walk for miles without food or
water to reservations (the Cherokee ‘Trail of Tears‘). Of course,
Pocahontas couldn’t show such violence as it was a children’s cartoon,
but it did show Europeans coming into their land and attempting to
take it over.
There are plenty of films that show Americans as good human beings,
which is what I consider every human being that joins any form of
military to protect their own country. That takes a lot of bravery
and strength, something I don’t think I could muscle up if I had to do
it myself. Take movies such as Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers
and the newly-created The Hurt Locker that was directed by James
Cameron’s daughter; they all show Americans in a great and true light,
(although not always pretty) with a lot of bravery and a lot of
strength. Just because a movie shows an American force being defeated
for attempting to take other peoples’ land doesn’t mean Americans are
bad people; it just means they chose the wrong land to try and take

Katie LaCross • TC

Providing for a child
I am sorry to state the obvious, but that article about the lady
getting her baby “taken away” is ridiculous! (“Don‘t Take My Baby,”
She gave him up for adoption! And also, I am sorry that she “changed
her mind” about it later. She sounds like she has made some poor
choices in life; everyone has, but this person acts like it is
everyone else’s fault, and she needs to take responsibility for
All I thought when I read that article was that she needs to get on
with her life and quit having children that she can’t take care of. I
think she needs to get some psychiatric help with her problems and
leave that poor baby where he is, I am sure he is better off
The responsibilities of a parent include providing for that child, and
if she is going to rely on her Social Security disability payments,
that is NOT providing for her child. I know many people that
unfortunately have to provide for their families that way and it is a
very unstable environment for a little baby.
She has to learn to deal with her own problems before subjecting a
child to them. I lived with a mother who had problems and we
struggled for years with money; it was no walk in the park. Babies are
expensive! If she truly loved that little one, she would let him have
a better life and back out gracefully but she seems like she cannot do
that. She is going to make everyone’s life miserable, including that

Cathy Frederick • via email

America in peril
On January 21, five conservative justices of the Supreme Court of the
United States sold out to the corporatocracy. Our democracy needs a
lifeline and it needs it now.
When the court decided that there would be no limits on corporate
financing of campaigns in the U.S., the fate of democracy has been put
on the plank of a pirate ship and is about to be pushed off the edge.
The court overthrew a century of precedent. This is easily one of the
darkest days in our country, and it is an act that will have the most
far-reaching implications. This decision will corrupt all future
campaigns; it will lead to the election of persons willing to do the
bidding of the corporatocracy.
In time, the voices you’ll hear on T.V. and radio, will overwhelmingly
be those of the corporatocracy. We’ll be bombarded with whatever it is
they may be “selling.”
You can kiss environmental regulations good-bye; and any and all
safety nets; you can say “hello” to perpetual wars of choice; and
“hello” to declining educational standards and so much more.
The downplaying of this issue in the media is shameful. There is no
easy answer. We can hope a couple of these corporatist-justices will
soon retire. We’re in deep, deep trouble people. So again I say: MAY
DAY! MAY DAY! MAY DAY! American democracy needs some life saving
action right now.

Karen Martin • Cheboygan

Supreme sell-out
Many aging “boomer” sports fans regret the name change so many
ballparks have undergone in the last two decades. In a corporate
dominated world, every name becomes a logo. And every logo means
bucks. Growing up in San Diego, I regret that “Jack Murphy Stadium,”
affectionately called “The Murph” by locals, was renamed Qualcomm
Stadium when San Diego hawked the name for twenty million dollars in
1997. Jack Murphy had been a popular local, longtime sports columnist
with the San Diego Union. San Diego originally believed a man’s
lifelong local popularity and devotion to local sport meant something.
Well, those sentimental days are bygone history.
Which brings us to the issue of the far greater tragedy of the recent
U.S. Supreme Court decision. Citizens United v. Federal Elections
Commission, passed by a single vote of the Robert’s court, is a
corporate bonanza. The weak restraints placed on corporate power by
existing campaign finance laws have been obliterated.
Corporate personhood now has been codified. Exxon is as much a person
as you are -- a “person” with much money to spend directly to buy
political influence. And a person that never dies.
To mark the death of democracy, it’s time to make it official. Sell
off the name “White House.” Call it the Aetna Arena. Sell off the name
“Capitol.” Call it Halliburton Hall. Just sell off the name of
everything! Sell off “America.” Call it Walmart.

Matt Malpass • East Jordan

Breach of trust
Re: the letter “Commies on the run” (1/25/10)
Wow, the people of Massachusetts have spoken. I’m a little confused;
did they raise $1.4 million to elect Scott Brown or Charlie Brown? I
would put more stock in Charlie myself. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter,
because most politicians on both sides of the aisle are placed there
to keep things the same, not to bring about change. There are no
commies on the run; but there is an enormous breach of trust running
through Capitol Hill. Governments try to perpetuate that which keeps
them in power. Abhorrent behavior, personal ideology, and campaign
malarkey seem to sway the masses into believing that their particular
party will do the best job in managing our society.
The fact is we live in an emergent society. The foremost interest of
existing institutions, whether governmental, corporate, or religious,
is self-preservation. If we continue to uphold these institutions in
our nation or any other, then fascism, communism, free enterprise,
socialism, and all other subcultures can be defined in one word;
U.S. global hegemony has been sliding down the hill for several years
thanks to the powers that be in Washington and Wall Street. We are
divided as a nation, and as long as greed, power and money remain in
the crosshairs, the corporatocracy will continue to load the barrel in
their best interest, not ours.
At least we have an intelligent commander in chief attempting to amend
the political behavior throughout the system.

Mark Waggener • TC

Last week‘s Random Thoughts column on biomass neglected to mention
that Traverse City Light & Power is one of the investors in the
Heritage Stoney Corners wind farm. A reader notes that: “L&P has
negotiated a purchase contract with them for 5 turbines at 2MW each
for a total investment of $60 million over 20 years..”
• Also, as a favor to Families First magazine, we are passing on the
news that the local monthly posted last year’s calendar of events for
February by mistake and publisher Laura Kalchik would like to spread
the word to disregard the listings for the current issue, with
apologies to the publication’s readers.

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