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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Hearings with no listening

Stephen Tuttle - June 28th, 2010
Befuddled and beleaguered BP CEO Tony Hayward had his day before
Congress. He apologized, he groveled, he’d have probably prostrated
himself before the committee members had he thought of it. Our
elected representatives, ever vigilant, were having none of it. They
blustered and pontificated and bloviated. They were filled to bursting
with self-righteous indignation. Hayward sat and absorbed it all, the
demon being cast out by a nationally televised public exorcism.
We seem to enjoy these spectacles. Some horror befalls our collective
sense of decency, usually as a result of something that genuinely
damages many or all of us, and members of Congress hold public
hearings. The intent of these hearings, at least ostensibly, is to
get to the bottom of said problem and call the rascals responsible to
Congress holds these hearings with some frequency but little success.
We did it during the savings and loan scandals and subsequent
collapse, firing for effect at hapless chief executives who exploited
the quasi-deregulation of their industry until the entire damned thing
collapsed around their feet.
Then we had at the tobacco company executives who comically swore,
under oath, that they did not believe cigarettes were addictive and
they weren’t completely convinced they were even harmful. That one
was especially fun.
Then there were the Wall Street investment house bosses taking their
turn trying to explain why they allowed a handful of employees to
create investment instruments based on sub-prime loans and then
watched the housing market and the investment houses crash and burn.
Ironically, not one of them said, “We did it because it was legal and,
at the time, we were making obscene amounts of money from these
Next came the automobile company executives who spent most of their
time answering questions about why they came to Washington in their
corporate jets and little time explaining why they kept making crummy
cars despite losing tens of billions of dollars.
The poor CEO of Toyota, who understood neither our language nor our
culture, was next in the dock. He tried mightily to explain that all
Toyotas were not careening wildly out of control and that he was
really, really sorry, anyway.
While one assumes there is some purpose to all of this excoriating of
alleged evil doers, the results are decidedly unsatisfying.
Some savings and loan executives were convicted of crimes and served
time. New regulations were put in place that might have been helpful
before-the-fact but did little to help the people who lost their life
savings and saw their lives shattered. This was closing the barn door
after the horse had left, wandered through the pasture, jumped the
fence and was headed to another state. Just a trifle late.
Usually, the CEOs leave feigning chastisement. In a worst-case
scenario they return to a distressed Board of Directors, are summarily
fired and float to Shangri La, or a private Caribbean island of their
choosing, under the benevolent canopy of a golden parachute so
bizarrely generous it would embarrass the robber barons of old.
For the Wall Street and AIG execs it was a terrible reckoning,
indeed. They took their verbal thrashing and walked away with a
gazillion dollars. Their pained expressions of regret could hardly
disguise their soon-to-follow knowing smiles. One assumes they giggled
like a toddler being tickled as they returned to their palatial
offices and decided to which of their several McMansions they’d be
heading on the week-end. “The Hamptons on Friday, dear, or should we
jet to Monte Carlo?”
The point is these highly publicized Congressional hearings accomplish
almost nothing in the bigger scope of things. They are always many,
many days late and billions of dollars of the public’s money short
before it ever even occurs to them to hold the hearings. Sometimes the
companies have to shell out a few billion dollars but rarely enough to
have a real impact on their bottom line. Most of us already know the
cause of the problem long before the first gavel falls and the
mandatory swearing in of witnesses begins.
In the case of BP, the frontline decision-makers opted for speed, to
save a few million bucks, instead of safety. Ironically, it’s quite
likely no laws were broken in the process. The Wall Street twits saw a
way to make huge money and just kept doing it without regard to any
consequence beyond tomorrow’s balance sheet. No matter the scandal,
the cause is almost always the same bad marriage between lax or
non-existent laws and regulations and corporate decision-makers unable
or unwilling to resist the temptation to cut corners to make more
Congress might consider taking a look at the history of these various
catastrophes and do something pro-active instead of being perpetually
reactive. How about some regulations with actual teeth and the resolve
to enforce them? How about some regulatory agencies that actually make
sure the rules and laws are being followed instead of bureaucratic
lapdogs who are, in some cases quite literally, sleeping with those
they are supposed to regulate? How about a Congress that writes laws
that both allow business to flourish, or fail, while at the same time
protecting the public? And wouldn’t it be nice if they would do this
before the next financial or environmental cataclysm arrives?
They hold their hearings to great fanfare and then do almost nothing.
That’s why we’ve stopped listening.

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