Letters 10-17-2016

Here’s The Truth The group Save our Downtown (SOD), which put Proposal 3 on the ballot, is ignoring the negative consequences that would result if the proposal passes. Despite the group’s name, the proposal impacts the entire city, not just downtown. Munson Medical Center, NMC, and the Grand Traverse Commons are also zoned for buildings over 60’ tall...

Keep TC As-Is In response to Lynda Prior’s letter, no one is asking the people to vote every time someone wants to build a building; Prop. 3 asks that people vote if a building is to be built over 60 feet. Traverse City will not die but will grow at a pace that keeps it the city people want to visit and/or reside; a place to raise a family. It seems people in high-density cities with tall buildings are the ones who flock to TC...

A Right To Vote I cannot understand how people living in a democracy would willingly give up the right to vote on an impactful and important issue. But that is exactly what the people who oppose Proposal 3 are advocating. They call the right to vote a “burden.” Really? Since when does voting on an important issue become a “burden?” The heart of any democracy is the right of the people to have their voice heard...

Reasons For NoI have great respect for the Prop. 3 proponents and consider them friends but in this case they’re wrong. A “yes” vote on Prop. 3 is really a “no” vote on..

Republican Observations When the Republican party sends its presidential candidates, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people with a lot of problems. They’re sending criminals, they’re sending deviate rapists. They’re sending drug addicts. They’re sending mentally ill. And some, I assume, are good people...

Stormy Vote Florida Governor Scott warns people on his coast to evacuate because “this storm will kill you! But in response to Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that Florida’s voter registration deadline be extended because a massive evacuation could compromise voter registration and turnout, Republican Governor Scott’s response was that this storm does not necessitate any such extension...

Third Party Benefits It has been proven over and over again that electing Democrat or Republican presidents and representatives only guarantees that dysfunction, corruption and greed will prevail throughout our government. It also I believe that a fair and democratic electoral process, a simple and fair tax structure, quality health care, good education, good paying jobs, adequate affordable housing, an abundance of healthy affordable food, a solid, well maintained infrastructure, a secure social, civil and public service system, an ecologically sustainable outlook for the future and much more is obtainable for all of us...

Home · Articles · News · Books · Dean Robb
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Dean Robb

Rick Coates - December 20th, 2010
Dean Robb: An Unlikely Radical
New book covers the activist attorney’s career
By Rick Coates
Attorney Dean Robb leans back in his chair as he reviews documents at his
computer-less desk in his Suttons Bay law office. A portrait of Abe
Lincoln towers over him from behind, while on the wall next to him are
three photographs that are from pivotal moments in his life. One is from
1963 with Martin Luther King at the first ever conference of “white and
black” lawyers that Robb helped to convene, the second photograph is with
South African civil rights (anti-apartheid) leader Nelson Mandela, who
served as his country’s president from 1994-99. The third picture is of
Robb’s youngest son Matthew with President Obama.
At 86, Robb shows no signs of retiring or slowing down. “I can’t afford to
retire as I have this problem of spending money as fast as I make it,” he
chuckles. But for Robb, his storied legal career was never about the
money; it was about championing the rights of those who had been wronged.
Now, that career and life of working tirelessly on behalf of others has
been documented -- or at least half of it -- in a new biography, “Dean
Robb: An Unlikely Radical,” written by his son Matthew Robb on the Lost
Prairie Press ($24.95) and available at bookstores around the area. The
Robbs will host two book signings this week starting with a Holiday Open
House at the Dean Robb Law Office in Suttons Bay from 6 to 8 p.m. and the
second on Thursday from 6 to 8 pm at Horizon Books in Traverse City.

“An Unlikely Radical” covers Robb’s life and career through 1971, and for
good reason.
“I didn’t want the book to be too long and thick,” said Dean Robb. “So we
stopped just at the point of the first of my many midlife crises. This
book covers my life prior to moving to the Leelanau Peninsula.”
The idea for the book came a few years back when Robb was diagnosed with
colon cancer and had a massive heart attack.
“My father was 61 years old when I was born, but he was always young at
heart, energetic and healthy, and until I was midway through college and
he had health issues, his age was never a concern,” said Matthew Robb.
“When he was diagnosed with cancer and had the heart attack I think for
all of us, me in particular, we became fearful for his life and the
realization how imminent death was for him. So we began discussing a book
about his life.”
Matthew always knew his father was special and felt that his story should
be told.
“For me growing up, my father was special, because while everyone knew him
as this famous attorney, I knew him as a father who always had time for
me. No matter how long his day was, he took time to spend with me, whether
it was hitting fly balls to me or taking the time to find out how my day
went,” said Matthew Robb. “As I got older I noticed how many people he
knew and how much he meant to other people and I felt that people would
find his story interesting.”

The father and son team, along with Cindy Robb (wife and mother), sat down
at their kitchen table and began outlining the book.
“We started the process with a trip after Matthew graduated from college
by traveling to my childhood home (a farm) in Illinois and revisiting my
past.” said Dean Robb. “We traveled to several communities in the south
where I was involved with the early days of the civil rights movement.”
That involvement included working to bring white and African American
attorneys together. He organized the Atlanta Conference in 1963, the first
meeting of major African American and white attorneys to discuss
strategies for the Civil Rights Movement. Both Dr. Martin Luther King and
Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth were a part of that conference, but for Dean
Robb the highlight of what came out of the event was something else.
“King’s presence was important, especially since he had been arrested a
few days earlier during a protest and no one expected him to be in
attendance,” said Robb. “What I think was most important was that fact a
dialogue came out of this and other meetings between white and black
attorneys. I remember one prominent southern white attorney who, until
this moment, would have never been willing to sit down with a black
attorney. But what he found out was that he and the black attorney that he
met with had so much in common. Colleagues, friendships and lifelong
relationships came out of this conference.”

Dean made his way to Detroit, where he would carve out a legal career
rooted in the Civil Rights Movement.  Along with George Crockett Jr. (the
first African American lawyer in the U.S. Department of Labor, 1939–1943)
Ernest Goodman and Morton Eden, Robb co-founded what is believed to be the
first racially-integrated law firm in the United States. Robb represented
several famous people during his Detroit days including Mayor Coleman
“He ended up marrying my secretary,” said Robb. “Then I was her attorney
when they got divorced.”
In “Dean Robb: An Unlikley Radical,” Matthew Robb believes that not only
will readers learn about his father, but also about themselves.
“When I set out to write this book I thought I was going to learn so much
about my father. But through this process what I learned was actually a
lot about who I am as a person and my hope is that in addition to people
learning my father’s life story that they will learn through his life
something about themselves.”
Matthew graduated from Suttons Bay High School where he was a star on a
golf team that won two State Championships. He played golf at Ferris State
University before making his way to the James Madison College at Michigan
State University. In 2007, he became a full-time volunteer campaign worker
for Barack Obama in Iowa. Today, Matthew teaches high school social
studies in Detroit as part of the federal “Teach for America” program.
Dean Robb through his 60 plus years in the legal world has had many high
profile cases. While Robb attributes his longevity in his profession to
“spending money as fast as he makes it,” his success is probably actually
a result of a missing word in his vocabulary.
“I can’t say no,” said Robb. “I get asked all the time how I get all these
interesting cases and it is because I said yes when others probably would
have said no. Sure, I can’t take every case that comes my way, but I can
take the time to listen, and I do, and as result a lot of interesting
people have crossed my paths over the years.”
If you would like to cross paths with Dean Robb and get a copy of “Dean
Robb: An Unlikley Radical,” join him and his son Matthew this Wednesday,
December 22,
from 6-8 pm at the Dean Robb Law Office, 416 N St Joseph, Suttons Bay, for
a Holiday Open House; or on Thursday, December 23 from 6-8 pm at Horizon
Books in downtown TC. To order a copy of the book, check out

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