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 · Books · From rags to riches: Wayne...
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From rags to riches: Wayne Lobdell

Anne Stanton - August 6th, 2010
From Rags to Great Riches
By Anne Stanton
Traverse City entrepreneur Wayne Lobdell is known as a full-throttle
kind of guy when it comes to running his empire of fast-food
franchises. But he’s been more laid back when it’s come to promoting
his autobiography, “Climb from the Cellar,” which was published in the
Spring of 2009 with sales of a couple thousand copies.
And that’s too bad because it’s a well-written autobiography of a
determined farm kid that deserves a wider audience—readers, perhaps,
who might be in need of some inspiration during these jobless times.
Lobdell modeled his life after his dad, Howard, who achieved his dream
of owning a small farm, which he later lost due to illness. In Wayne’s
case, his dad’s edict of working very hard translated into success for
Wayne beyond his wildest childhood dreams. He now owns 73 restaurant
franchises, including 24 Pizza Huts and 49 Taco Bells. His three sons
are all involved in the restaurant business, either taking the helm of
Lobdell Hospitality Restaurant Group or their own company. Eight
restaurants in Traverse City and Suttons Bay alone belong to a Lobdell
family member.
Lobdell’s story, which took him several years to write, helps explain
his generous donations to a variety of local and national causes that
help disadvantaged kids. One includes the Annual Culinary Scholarship
Dinner at the Lobdell’s Teaching Restaurant at the Great Lakes
Culinary Institute, which has given out more than $50,000 so far in
scholarships. The sixth dinner is scheduled for September 24 (see
details below).

Wayne Lobdell paints in detail the struggle of the post-Depression
days in Ravenna, a small farm town on the outskirts of Muskegon. He
recalls a mother who complained too much, and a father who—well,
Lobdell wouldn’t say he worked too hard. He just always worked.
In 1935, some six years before Wayne was born, his mother, Marion, was
abandoned by her first husband who walked off in the time it took to
“percolate a pot of coffee.” Howard Lobdell soon came along and saved
her from the disgrace of single mother status. The first years were
among the most difficult. Howard worked full-time at a foundry. In his
“spare time,” he built a house with trees he cut down from their $250
lot. “Like a lot of wiry men in their prime, Howard worked bigger than
he was,” Wayne wrote. Marion was lonely, staying home with her three
kids, often seeing her husband when he fell exhausted into bed.
Despite their frugal ways, money was still tight, and the young couple
was forced to rent out the first floor of their newly built house and
move into the basement with sons Russell, Lavern and Gerald. Marion
was nearly nine months pregnant with a fourth child and feared for the
day she went into labor. Her husband was always working and they had
no phone. As it turns out, her worst fears were confirmed.
Fortunately, her neighbor lady heard her voice call out, “Help me!”
and stepped into the basement apartment to deliver baby Wayne.
Wayne lived in the basement only a few months before the family moved
onto a bigger apartment. “Good-bye little dungeon,” Marion sang out as
they packed up the Chevy.  Marion lost her first son, Russell, to
pneumonia, likely owing to the damp basement air and the colds it
brought on.
Lobdell’s life isn’t a straight-on trajectory to success. Quite the
opposite. He was often side-tracked by his buddies. At the age of 4,
he visited an 8-year-old neighbor—someone with whom he desperately
wanted to be a friend—who talked him into smoking a cigarette. Wayne
watched the smoke swirling around as “delicious as cotton candy” and
gave it a go.
Fortunately, for Wayne, his mother had a keen sense of smell and knew
how to pack a punch in her threats. “Smoking stops you from growing.
You will never get to be a big boy if you smoke,” she told him.
That same year, his father bought the farm he dreamed of, though he
continued to work full-time at the foundry. The book recalls the days
of farm chores, chasing pigs, and attending a one-room schoolhouse.
Although his parents always had a close eye on the budget, they were
quick to open their home to a needy relative or child.
Wayne was a quick study when it came to chores. Getting asked to help
out carried prestige, and his older brothers were often pained when
Wayne was chosen over them.  At school, Wayne did the minimum except
for the rare times when he wanted to prove himself to the dour
teacher, who had no expectations of the Lobdell boys, who came from
the smallest farm on the block. She once pulled Lavern up by the hair
and told him, “You’re a no good for nothing, and you’ll always be a no
good for nothing.” Wayne believes that Lavern took her words too much
to heart.
Over the years, Wayne’s father became weak and despondent. When Wayne
was about 13, his dad was diagnosed with tuberculosis owing to years
of breathing in foundry soot that had “coated his lungs with black,
smoky bacteria.” His father was hospitalized, and the Lobdell family
splintered. His oldest brother had already left home to work as a
traveling magazine salesman. His middle brother, Gerald, had been
written off early on by his teacher and was unable to read. He dropped
out of school in seventh grade and got a job as an usher at a downtown
theatre. When Wayne triumphantly told his one-room schoolteacher the
news, she gave him a strange look and said, “You must mean he got a
job as a janitor.”
With his dad in the hospital, Wayne went into high gear, hiring
himself out at farms. He eagerly did what he was asked and then looked
around for even more to do. But Wayne couldn’t make enough to save his
own family’s farm. As he entered ninth grade, his mom moved to
Muskegon to find work, while Wayne moved in with an uncle and aunt in
Muskegon with its big city temptations.
Wayne’s new neighborhood was rough. He made friends with the
neighborhood teens—hoods basically—and was talked into stealing and
fighting. He writes with regret of knocking out a guy’s front teeth
he’d never met before. When he almost got caught as a look-out for a
store burglary, Wayne decided he needed new friends. Soon after, he
met a cheerleader by the name of Terry at a dance. She was two years
younger than him from a “good” family, who normally would have ignored
a hood like him. But she gave him a chance and gently nudged him
toward less wild ways.

The last third of the book details his success years—buckling down to
get better grades and studying journalism at Michigan State
University. To pay for college, he took a job at a hotel/restaurant,
where he worked as a busboy. He ambitiously asked for a chance to work
at all the jobs, ranging from janitor to night auditor. His boss soon
promoted him to manager and persuaded him that restaurants were where
the real money was. Wayne switched his major to restaurant and
hospitality, which led to a job as manager of a country club
restaurant his first year out of school. The shrewd moves he made to
move up in his career make for interesting pointers.
In 1972, Wayne interviewed with Franchise Foods International for a
job based in Traverse City.  His salary offer was low, reflecting the
town’s customary “view of the bay, half the pay” rationale. Still,
Wayne bargained for a slightly lower salary in lieu of partial
ownership and an option to eventually buy in as partner. It turned out
to be the beginning of a spectacular entrepreneurial career, which
earned him tens of millions, yet demanding 85-hour work weeks.
His brothers, on the other hand, struggled—his oldest brother with
alcoholism, and his middle brother, who drowned several years ago,
with a head injury and a mental deficit. Wayne sends his surviving a
brother a check each month and visits him when he’s in and out of
Some might view Climb from the Cellar as old-school. More fathers
today eschew the 60-hour work weeks, wanting instead to spend more
time with their kids and having fun. And far more working age women
are in the workforce than in the late 1950s—75% compared to about 40%,
according to a March 2, 2006 New York Times article.
Yet Jeff Lobdell, his oldest son, told Express that despite his dad’s
intense work schedule, he has fond memories of his childhood; the four
kids are all close to their dad. Jeff said his mother, who also has an
intense work ethic, was vital to the family’s success. Now the
president of nine companies and owner of 15 restaurants, Jeff passes
on his folks’ philosophy to his two young children.
“You have to learn disappointment as you grow up and that you can’t
get everything you want. If you did, you’d be pretty spoiled, and you
wouldn’t have the work ethic,” Jeff said.

 And that’s pretty much the message of the book. Hard work—always
doing more than what’s expected—is rewarded, although wise decisions
play an equally key role. Wayne writes that he came precariously close
to a different and darker path had he joined the Muskegon gang.
“Somewhere along the line someone has to find somebody or somebody has
to find them, or get lucky,” he told the Express. “Everyone needs
something to hang on that they excel at, something they feel they can
do—and stick with it.”
Now 69, Wayne has new interests. He’s writing a fiction book about a
busy executive’s sudden transition into a snowbird retirement.
His newest business venture is a natural gas project that’s taken
longer than expected, but appears to be on a path to success. And he’s
avidly pursuing thoroughbred horse racing.
“He’s totally focused,” said Terry, his wife of 48 years.  “He wants
to find a contender. So for the past six months, all he’s done is
study the lineage of thoroughbreds, and he created his own spreadsheet
to put all his information into. …  Every night he’s on his computer
until 10 or 11 pm, studying the lineage of horses.”
Wayne’s goal is buy a couple of yearlings every year for a stable that
he’ll call Lobdell Charity Stables. He aims to develop a contender for
the Kentucky Derby.
“And if I win, I’ll donate a million dollars to my favorite charity
organizations. I know it’s a very long shot, but I will have fun
Lobdell believes the book can serve as an inspiration to those who are
open to the message.
“I appreciate what a wonderful country we live in. If you work hard,
you have the opportunity to climb from the cellar. My childhood seems
like a whole different world now, but I think about it often.”

Lobdell’s book, “Climb From The Cellar,” is available online and at
Horizon Books for $15.95. Also, the Sixth Annual Scholarship Dinner
will be held on September 24 at the Lobdell’s Teaching Restaurant,
September 24, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $250 per
couple. Call 941-5052, ext. 202, to reserve your seats.

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