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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Bart, we feel your pain/No free lunch

Robert Downes - April 19th, 2010
Bart, we feel your pain
There’s a pundit on TV in the early evening hours who specializes in
painting anyone in public office as a knucklehead.
Permanently saddled with a world-weary expression, he answers emails
from cynical viewers with rolling eyes, a “tch-tch,” and an exasperated
“I told ya so” before delivering the inevitable punchline about the
jerks in Washington pulling the strings of the hard-workin’ American
middle class.
His name isn’t important, because he’s more like an automatic cynicism
program -- he might as well be a Pixar computer animation.
But the message is always the same and you hear it on all of the cable
news stations, spreading the infection of cynicism about our public
servants to viewers of every political stripe. Why? because it’s a lot
easier to tear someone down with slogans and stereotypes than it is to
do the hard work of shaping progress from the muck of complicated
So who can blame U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak for saying take this job and
shove it last week after 18 years of serving the citizens of Michigan’s
1st Congressional District?
Can you imagine how difficult it must be to serve a district that’s
more than 600 miles across in one of the most remote corners of the
United States? Can you imagine how expensive it is to pay Stupak’s
out-of-pocket airfares to Washington D.C. from his home in far off Iron
Let’s give the man a little respect. Bart Stupak is one of the most
notable leaders in Congress and represents the gold standard of
integrity, passion and intelligence in Northern Michigan. He led the
fight to protect the Great Lakes from water diversion and brought an
inestimable number of federal dollars to his district to provide jobs
in a region that’s on par with Appalachia.
No one ever came close to beating Stupak in an election and political
pundits as astute as George Weeks feel he would have won re-election
this year if he had chosen to run, despite whatever the Tea Party might
claim. He would make a fine governor, and if anything, it‘s a shame
he‘s not running for that office.
Stupak also held to his right-to-life principles, shaping the health
care reform legislation while casting a heroic vote on its behalf.
That will mean health coverage for 38,000 uninsured citizens in his
district, along with lower costs and better protection for 197,000.
And, as he says, his vote for health reform means you will “no longer
have to live in fear of being one illness or injury away from
I don’t personally know Bart Stupak, but have observed through the
years at his public appearances and through his writings and actions
that he is a man of courage who “tells it like it is” whatever the
consequences. What more could a cynic ask for?
Good luck to Rep. Bart Stupak on whatever path he chooses to follow.
He will surely be missed.

No free lunch

Recently, the Grand Rapids Press hosted a panel of experts to ponder the
idea of establishing new tolls to pay for highway funding in Michigan.
Michigan’s roads are literally on a highway to hell, owing to their
deterioration and a lack of tax dollars to repair them. Over Drive, a
magazine for truckers, surveyed its readership and found that our
roads are considered to be among the worst in the country, just ahead
of the potholed highways of Pennsylvania and Louisiana.
Although the State of Michigan spends about $3 billion per year on
highway improvements, with funds drawn from federal and state fuel
taxes, that’s apparently not enough to get ‘er done.
Plus, an estimated $140 million of those gas tax dollars are diverted
to other state agencies that have nothing to do with roads, such as the
Secretary of State and the Department of Treasury, according to Mike
Nystrom, vice president of the Michigan Infrastructure and
Transportation Association.
So what are the options for getting our roads back on track? The Press
reports that the legislature is considering up to 13 bills to increase
fuel taxes and license fees over the next five years to raise an extra
$1.5 billion per year.
But new taxes are poison doo-doo for politicians these days, so there’s
growing support for toll roads as an alternative.
This is partly because increasing fuel taxes may prove to be
ineffective in the long run, considering that more of us are switching
to hybrid or high-mileage vehicles. And what happens when we go
electric? Those gas tax revenues will evaporate.
Plus, it has been noted that neighboring states, including Ohio,
Illinois and Indiana, all rely on toll roads to keep their highways in
good condition, as do many southern states.
The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is opposed to any tax hikes in
general, but notes that “true user fees are sometimes necessary and
appropriate for essential services like transportation.”
In other words, toll roads.
Personally, I hate paying tolls whenever driving through Ohio, Illinois
or Pennsylvania. Paying $20 or so to drive through the dreary plains
of Ohio seems un-American. And if you’ve ever had the misfortune of
driving the roads outside Orlando, Florida, the experience of getting
ripped off by numerous toll booths every few miles seems positively
On the other hand, road tolls certainly fit the zeitgeist of the times:
people don’t wish to pay more taxes, but there’s no free lunch when it
comes to keeping our roads up to snuff, so heavy users should ‘pay the
freight’ on fixing our roads, so to speak.
In its essence, it’s a libertarian idea: those of us who rarely drive
(especially on freeways) shouldn‘t have to pay for those who are heavy
users of our highways.
So perhaps someday soon we’ll get the equivalent of a new tax in the
form of road tolls. Will that mean a decrease in our present gas taxes
and license fees? Probably not. It will be just one more tax, albeit
packaged in a libertarian philosophy that’s in step with the times.
Let’s take it a step further and charge an admission fee to get into
the paradise of Northern Michigan.

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