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 · Getting tough on grandma/...
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Getting tough on grandma/ Elaine Vanderberg

Anne Stanton - July 19th, 2010
Getting Tough on Grandma: Prosecutor drags on case against pepper-sprayed great grandmother
By Anne Stanton
It sounds like a send-up from a David Letterman show: Why did the deputy pepper spray a 79-year-old great grandmother?
Yet it isn’t a joke to either to Elaine Vanderberg or to Frankfort Village Police Officer Jason Wolfe, who pepper sprayed Vanderburg twice in the eyes and arrested her on a felony charge for resisting and obstructing a police officer. The charges were dismissed in May, but Benzie County Prosecutor John Daughtery filed a motion with the state Court of Appeals last week to reinstate the felony charges.
Vanderberg’s problems began last May when she asked her nephew, Andrew Haas, then 27, to come help her with her badly crippled husband, who “had every single disease and disorder that a human being can have—throat cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, Parkinson’s, gout, scoliosis, bones replaced with screws, a pacemaker and dementia.”
Although exhausted from round-the-clock caring for her husband, she thought she could “fix” Haas and give him a fresh start. Her grandson had been abandoned by his father at the age of four and raised by Vanderberg’s daughter. She refused state assistance, but it meant working full-time and leaving him alone after he became too old for daycare. Haas was a troubled child and, from the age of 14, had been in and out of correctional facilities and prisons. When he moved in with Vanderberg, he was in serious trouble in his hometown, she said.

But Vanderberg was no match for Haas, who she said is charming and handsome, but also untruthful and a serious alcoholic. “I didn’t have the strength, power or intelligence to help him. When he was drinking, he was totally out of his mind. He’d do horribly stupid things. He smashed my car. He caused a lot of problems. I still love him.”
Almost immediately, he got into drinking-related trouble, and the Frankfort cops were in and out of her house, once walking in while she has having dinner with her husband without a search warrant. Until this point in her life, Vanderberg had never had dealings with the police. She had retired to Frankfort after a career as a medical technologist. She was a devoted volunteer at the hospital, played bridge, and served as the president of the Periwinkle Garden Club. Also a silversmith, she donated her works to the Crystal Lake Art Center’s annual fundraiser.
On a warm evening on August 3, 2009, her grandson, whose license was suspended, told her he was going to take the car and rev it up in a private driveway to recharge the battery. She found out later that he really intended to drive into town to buy cigarettes.
Officer Wolfe spotted the car at about 8:40 p.m. traveling north on Crystal Avenue, driving about 60 mph in an area posted at speed limit of 35 and 45 mph, according to his police report.
He began following the white car, which didn’t pull over. He noticed that Haas had his hand out the window, motioning to him, but he didn’t know why or what it meant.
As he drove home, Haas called his grandma. He said he was being followed, but he was waving on the officer to follow him. He had his pit bull, Lady, in the car. He feared the officer would taser the dog, because it nearly happened before, and he wanted to get the dog safely home before he gave up. Wolfe turned on his siren and called for back-up. He followed the car for about five minutes before it pulled in front of Vanderberg’s home, he wrote in his police report.

Vanderberg, barefoot and wearing a t-shirt and shorts, was at the side of the road, her cell phone in one hand. She was yelling, “You don’t understand!” Both men stepped out of their cars.
She walked up to Wolfe’s police car to talk to him, while Haas walked away. The deputy followed Haas and grabbed his arm, but he broke loose and began walking down the road.Wolfe yelled for Haas to get on the ground and he refused. He ordered Vanderberg, who had stepped in front of him, to step back, and she didn’t. “I thought, ‘I am trying to get to my grandson. Why is he stopping me? He is my grandson, and I want to get to my grandson, and I’m on my own property.’”
The deputy was rattled from the sirens and the chase, according to court transcripts of the preliminary trial. He stated that Vanderberg was preventing him from walking over to Haas. Neither Haas nor Vanderberg was complying with his orders. Here’s where the two stories diverge. He said, in his police report, that she put one hand on his chest and the other on his arm and pushed him.
He yelled, “Back off!” He took a step back, yelled “Code 20” on his radio, and pepper sprayed her twice in the eyes.
Vanderberg, who has never testified in court, said she couldn’t have touched him with two arms because she had a cell phone in one hand. She said in the space of what seemed like 10 seconds, she tried to get the police officer—silhouetted in siren lights—to listen to her. Suddenly, she saw fluid squirt at her eyes, followed by searing pain. She began screaming in agony. Haas came over to his grandma and gave her a hug, touching his face to hers.

At this point, several other police cars arrived and the scene was awash in shrieking sirens and lights. The police officers called an ambulance for Vanderberg, and then focused their efforts on capturing Haas who ran into the lake to wash off the pepper spray. Vanderberg, who continued to scream in pain after getting assessed, but not treated, by an ambulance worker, was helped by a neighbor who flushed her eyes with water from a garden hose.
Vanderberg was cuffed and taken to jail for the night. She continued to sob and flush her eyes with a cold wash cloth to relieve the pain and begged the jailers not to leave her sick husband alone. She was assured someone was with him. A Michigan State Police trooper did make him comfortable and a neighbor checked on him, but he spent the night alone. Luckily, he didn’t fall, she said.
As a result of rubbing her eyes, two plastic tubes inserted in Vandeberg’s eyes for a “dry eye” condition fell out and had to be replaced. The incident traumatized her, she said.
She appeared before 19th Circuit Judge James Batzer in May, nearly a year later. Her attorney, Jesse Williams, asked the court to use common sense and referred to Vanderberg as “grandma.” He asked Wolfe: “Are you scared of little old ladies? It’s real simple, straightforward. Are you scared of little old women? Yes or no? Yes or no?”
“At that time, I was,” Wolfe admitted.
In truth, Vanderberg at 5’7 is not really “little.” She believes she’s about the same height as the deputy, although much older than Wolfe, who’s in his 30s, and much lighter.

Batzer dismissed the charges in May, summing up his conclusions like this, according to the court transcript:
“Now, of course, a police officer, when he’s in the course of making an arrest, doesn’t want other people coming up, other than other police officers. He doesn’t want other people around. Because he doesn’t, you know, he doesn’t know, are they going to be jumping on his back trying to take his gun, or what? He wants to effect that arrest. Well this woman isn’t trained in police procedures. She wants to tell this officer, ‘You don’t understand, you don’t understand.’
“Well, I take it she wants to tell him what he doesn’t understand. He’s not interested in listening to that. He’s interested in making the arrest to her grandson who doesn’t want to be arrested, and he’s telling her to back off. And that’s not sinking in because she’s under as much emotional upset and distress as this police officer is because that’s her grandson. And she goes up to him, and she puts a hand on him. And he says she grabbed a hold of his left arm. Now, he does say—there’s no testimony of what that was. I mean, did she grab his arm and try and wrench it behind his back? Did she grab his arm and was she scratching and clawing? Or—people can go up and grab someone’s arm; they just want to talk to them. You can grab an arm and say, ‘just listen’—you know—its just—it’s just an emphatic way, or can be, of speaking. Anyway, and then what kind of force did she push you with? This officer doesn’t know. This record is perfectly capable of the inference, he says, ‘I took a step back.’ Because he was surprised. He was surprised when she touched him. He took a step back. That’s all. And then he pepper sprayed her.”

Vanderberg was relieved with the dismissal. At least until last week, when Daughtery filed an appeal with the state Court of Appeals to reinstate the felony charges against her. It doesn’t matter if she knew police procedure, and it didn’t matter the deputy wasn’t injured, he wrote in his motion.
Williams said the logical course would have been to re-file the case as a misdemeanor. “Why would he go to state Court of Appeals? How is it benefiting the community? This is a waste, an incredible waste of taxpayer money. She’s 80 years old with no criminal history. What are we doing? What does it accomplish?”
Vanderberg said she’s sick of it and just wants it over.
“The community needs to get up in arms about the prosecutor prolonging this ridiculous case and wasting their money. It’s been nearly a year.”
Prosecutor John Daughtery did not return a call seeking comment.

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