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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Only parents can end bullying

Robert Downes - April 12th, 2010
Only parents can end bullying
It has taken years to sink in, but with the suicide of 15-year-old
Phoebe Prince in Massachusetts this January, we parents have finally
got the message that bullying in our schools is a deadly serious
Most of us know Phoebe’s story by now: she was a pretty girl who moved to the
United States from Ireland last fall and then suffered months of abuse
from her classmates after briefly dating a popular football player at
South Hadley High School.
Apparently, a jealous girlfriend of the player enlisted her friends to
gang up on Phoebe, harassing her for months, both at school and over
the Internet. The final straw was one of the kids throwing a soda can
at Phoebe as she walked home from school last winter. That incident
on top of a thousand insults, taunts and curses led Phoebe to hang
herself from the stairwell in her family’s home.
Fifteen years old.
Nine students will face trial as adults in Phoebe’s death on charges
including harassment, stalking, the violation of her civil rights,
statutory rape and assault with a dangerous weapon. But none of the
kids are currently in jail and you get the feeling that like most
privileged middle class youth in our nation who get into trouble with
the law, they’ll get a slap on the wrist -- probation or a suspended
sentence -- and go scott free.
It has been interesting to watch the bleating of the school
superintendent in this case, who insists that the attacks on Phoebe
were duly noted by the school staff, as if merely reporting an
incident amounts to taking action. If all the school staff did was
file away a report or two, then perhaps they deserve to stand trial
with the bullies who got a free pass from their bureaucratic inertia.
No doubt there will be new laws coming down the pike which will
criminalize bullying. Good luck with that approach: if laws alone
could solve the problems of human nature then we would have been
living in a perfect world eons ago.
Too late, I’ve learned in life that stopping bullies all gets back to
the parents.
Members of my family were bullied in school as children and it proved
to be a life-shattering experience that ruined not just their high
school experience, but also crippled them emotionally for years.
My sister Sue. for one, was a sensitive and fragile person who did not
have the psychological resources to defend herself against bullies.
She didn’t know how to ‘roll with the punches’ or ‘laugh it off.’
Instead, she froze up with fear and uncertainty as they piled on.
My parents were loving people, but they were also naive and
unsophisticated -- only 10 years off the farm -- when we moved to the
metro Detroit area. All of us kids were in over our heads in that
faster environment, but especially Sue, who was absolutely shattered
by the torment of her classmates in junior and senior high. She
dropped out of school in the eighth grade, continued on haphazardly
here and there, and finally managed to earn her G.E.D. years later.
Sue never overcame the mental torture she endured in school and she
suffered physical and emotional problems for the rest of her short
life. Depression, anxiety, lack of confidence, suicide attempts --
those were the result of ‘lessons’ received from bullies in high
At the time, my parents put their faith in the American credo of
self-reliance. Like many families, we thought that Sue could tough it
out and learn to face down her bullies, growing stronger and more
competent in the end. In retrospect, that ideal turned out to be a
harmful fantasy and a myth.
Comedian Bill Cosby, who is performing at the Odawa Casino in Petoskey
on May 8, doesn’t buy the myth that kids can face down bullies alone.
Cosby has been speaking and writing about bullying for years and
feels that parents must take an active role in listening to their
children and speaking out on their behalf.
Bullies can sense when a child is insecure, sensitive and uncertain,
and they exult in lording it over an easy target. The Internet, with
its thoughtless ability to flame its victims, only adds to the pain by
spreading scorn and ridicule to their schoolmates.
Yet we can’t trust the law to shape a bully’s behavior -- not to
mention the groupthink practiced by the clique that drove Phoebe
Prince to her death. Nor can we count on teachers to catch every taunt
or vicious act when they’re riding herd on rotating classes of 25-30
kids at a time.
As Bill Cosby notes, only parents can stop bullies by listening to
their kids and offering a swift, measured response. That can mean
calling the bully’s parents, demanding action at school, or even
seeking other education options. In short, getting in the bully’s
face, even if it’s only to have a civil conversation over sodas with
the kid and his parents at a restaurant.
As parents, we must reject the myth that it’s ‘good’ for kids to stand
up to abuse as a way to build character. As admirable as that may
seem, the truth is that some kids just aren’t mature enough to step up
to that ideal and feel stricken, paralyzed and defenseless -- a
weakness that bullies can sense.
Maybe that’s why we have so many schoolyard shootings in America.
Kids who feel paralyzed and helpless at the hands of bullies finally
come to a ‘solution’ that involves guns on campus and a murderous

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