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 · Celtic John
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Celtic John

Rick Coates - March 8th, 2010
Celtic John: So What’s Up His Kilt Now?
By Rick Coates
It seems like a simple proposition on the surface. Simply spend $45
(if you are in Traverse City and live in Interlochen) if you have been
enjoying a night on the town with some adult beverages, or risk
getting behind the wheel of your vehicle and driving while
intoxicated. If caught, expect to spend $5,000 to $8,000 in legal fees
and increased insurance fees -- or even worse yet, you could kill
someone if you drive while intoxicated. It is this proposition Celtic
John offers daily in the Traverse
City region.
Nicknamed Celtic John by his radio friends Omelette & Finster, John
O’Brien launched Celtic Transport Logistics (a.k.a. Celtic Shuttle &
Tours) on St. Patrick’s Day 2006 in Traverse City. In four years he
has seen Celtic Transport grow from one to seven vehicles. When he
hatched the idea Traverse City had one of the highest DUI arrest rates
per capita in Michigan, and according to a police officer friend of
Celtic John’s, that rate has been lowered since he began offering his
Celtic John started his shuttle business as much to fill a need for
him as he did for the community. “I needed a job and there were not
many jobs at the time in Traverse City, so I started this shuttle
service,” he said.
In addition he has been driving school buses for TCAPS, a job he says
may be in jeopardy if the schools end up privatizing their busing
As he prepares for the busy High Holy Days of St. Patrick (look for
him in the St. Patrick’s Parade on Saturday and around town next
Wednesday on St. Patrick’s Day with his shuttles) he took time to
reflect on the past, present and future of his business.

Northern Express:  What inspired you to start Celtic Transport?
Celtic John: When I was living in Ireland I would go to weddings and
everyone would drive themselves to get there and everyone would take a
bus home. First time offense for drinking and driving and you lose
your license for two years, second offense and you lose it for life.
When I moved back to Traverse City there just wasn’t a lot of jobs, I
started driving buses for TCAPS, so I thought this concept might work.

NE: Well has it worked?
Celtic John: They say it takes five years before a business turns a
profit and I am definitely proving that theory. The expenses from fuel
to maintenance are tough, last year I spent over $40,000 in
maintaining and repairing the vehicles, the roads around here are
tough on the vehicles. I also spent $15,000 on insurance. But I have
seen the business grow from one to seven vehicles and in the
summertime I have been turning business away. So I think in 2010 I am
going to finally make a profit.

NE: Does 2010 look good?
Celtic John: No, it looks great. Going into 2009 I had six bookings.
At the start of 2010 I had 30 bookings for the season. Plus the phone
has been ringing off the hook and we are way ahead of bookings from
this time last year. In many ways my business is recession proof,
people are still going to get married and people are still going to

NE: So weddings are a big part of your business?
Celtic John: Yes, they make up 50% of it and winery tours make up 20%
and the rest of the business is private parties, corporate shuttle
service, event shuttles and bars.

NE: Speaking of bars, are you still offering late night shuttle service?
Celtic John: Yes, but not by having a shuttle out driving around from
bar to bar on the weekends anymore. I like to say it was the best
marketing campaign I launched by accident. I stopped having the
shuttle out driving around on weekends a year ago, I was losing money.
Sure, it gave me a name but I had to be smart about it from a business
perspective. So now bartenders encourage patrons to call me when they
need a ride. It is a lot more cost effective.

NE: Your biggest challenge?
Celtic John: There are a lot of them. I like to consider myself one of
the spokes in the wheel that helps to promote tourism. Not everyone
has this perspective. For example, some wineries have labeled the
guests I am bringing as “bus people” and they do not want them. They
have stereotyped everyone based on previous experiences. But these
people are valuable to our economy, they come here and spend money in
our hotels, restaurants and shops and many of them spend a lot of
money at the wineries as well. We have had some embarrassing
experiences and some situations that have had a negative impact on the
perception of Traverse City.

NE: Do explain?
Celtic John: Fortunately most wineries do not operate this way. We
also call ahead and get permission. We recently brought a group of
professionals out to a winery and even though we had permission we
were greeted in the parking lot by a winery employee who said we were
not welcome. The guests were frustrated but we agreed to go elsewhere.
Despite being treated poorly they wanted to get a picture outside
before heading off to the next winery. Well as they got off the bus
this employee starting yelling at them and told them they were asked
to leave and to get back on the bus. These guests were so incensed
that they said they would never come back to Traverse City and would
never buy another bottle of wine from that winery ever again. They
also said they were going to tell everyone about their experience.

NE: It seems odd that wineries wouldn’t welcome you with open arms. Is
it getting better?
Celtic John: I agree, after all, these people have already made the
right decision of touring the wineries with a designated driver. The
wineries that like us are the ones that have the bigger picture, they
also see themselves as a spoke in the tourism wheel.
We see patterns in our tours and where people buy wine and where they
don’t. We hear time and time again “oh this winery was so friendly” as
they walk out with bottles or cases, or this “winery was not friendly
and they treated us as an inconvenience.”
When someone calls me about my services I have to sell them on what I
offer, I can’t expect that just because they called they are going to
do business with me. I see this with some wineries; they expect that
everyone who walks through their doors is going to hand over their
wallet.  Sometimes it isn’t about having the best tasting wine; it is
about having the friendliest staff.

NE:  So what is in store for the future for Celtic Transport Logistics?
Celtic John:  We are in the process of expanding, looking to buy a
facility to work on our vehicles. We are looking to buy a trolley and
some executive vehicles for corporate transport. I am even working on
some tours of Ireland.
With the schools looking to privatize bussing we are looking at how
that might work in our business model. We have been offering a morning
and evening shuttle service for the college and NMC officials have
said it has helped with parking issues on campus.
We also see ourselves more involved with event shuttling. Now some
private schools have been approaching us. The Film Festival and the
recent Winter Microbrew Festival have contracted with us for event
shuttling and we see more of this happening with other events. We are
also now doing brewery tours. As we grow -- and I say ‘we’ because it
is more than just me as I have a great customer service oriented team
-- I see us being the number one and best tour guide service in the

NE: Tips for selecting a transportation service?
Celtic John: Make sure their vehicles have the State inspection
sticker. All of our vehicles have been inspected by the state, which
means they are going through a regular maintenance schedule. Plus it
means we are properly insured and our drivers are certified. That
isn’t always the case with some operators so do your homework. We also
pride ourselves on the little things that make a difference, like
being flexible for our customers. We succeed based on our reputation;
it is why we do little in the way of conventional advertising as we
have hotels, wineries, the Visitors Bureau, bartenders and others who
recommend us.

For additional information on Celtic Transport Logistics go to
www.celticshuttles.com or call them anytime at 231-313-KILT (1760).

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