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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Gas pains in Emmet/Charlevoix

Robert Downes - January 17th, 2011
Gas pains in Emmet/Charlevoix 1/17/11
Sometimes, it really does pay to look a gift horse in the mouth...
When oil and gas landmen descended on the Little Traverse area last
summer with promises of easy riches in return for mineral leases and
signing bonuses, many landowners in Emmet, Charlevoix, Antrim and
Cheboygan counties took the bait.
Some even went out and borrowed money to purchase new cars, tractors
and other expensive items, or took out second mortgages on their homes
in anticipation of the cash and royalties they expected to receive
from their leased lands.
Then -- poof -- last fall, many of the signed, notarized contracts
were abruptly canceled, leaving hundreds of landowners holding a bag
of empty promises.
That’s the scenario laid out by David Petty, who characterizes himself
as a “ticked off guy and a tree-hugger” who got involved in the oil
and gas business as a broker a few years back to support his career as
an artist in Charlevoix County.
“Being in this business and seeing what these oil and gas company
people did really ticked me off,” says Petty, who is a bit player in
this unfolding drama, having 12 acres which were initially leased at
$650 per acre.
Petty is helping to organize a meeting at the Emmet County Fairgrounds
this Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. with Gaylord attorneys Susan Hlywa
Topp and Bill Rolinski, who are specialists in oil and gas leases and
environmental law. The meeting will acquaint landowners with their
rights, along with the obligations of the companies that signed
contracts. And of course, what legal actions one can take if a lease
has been voided. Hundreds of landowners are expected to attend.
Last year, Petty says, landowners in the region were promised anywhere
from $300 to $2,000 per acre for the right to drill for natural gas on
their property. Now, he says, some of those people are losing their
homes or have gotten themselves into debt and financial trouble
because they counted on lease money that never arrived.
A ‘gold rush’ for gas mushroomed last March when a huge deposit was
discovered in a 12,000-foot well in Missaukee County. Petty says the
well initially delivered a whopping 2.5 million cubic feet of natural
gas per day.
The Missaukee well is located at the deep end of the Collingwood Shale
formation, a natural gas field which is said to be 40-45 feet thick
and spreading across much of Northern Michigan about 2 miles
underground. It’s expensive to drill that deep, however; yet the
formation is only 5,000-6,000 feet deep in the
Emmet/Charlevoix/Cheboygan area. Thus, the rush by oil and gas landmen
to sign leases in the area last summer.
“It was crawling up here with landmen promising to hand out $1 million
checks,” Petty says.
Typically, the state auctions leases for $10-$30 per acre, Petty says,
but the frenzy over natural gas deposits around Emmet County sent some
offers into the $3,000-$5,000 per acre range. A report by Sheri
McWhirter in the Record-Eagle noted that energy companies spent $178
million at an auction of state land last year, “more than seven times
the state’s previous auction record of $23.6 million set in 1981.”
But then production at the Missaukee well dropped off to 800,000 cubic
feet of gas per day -- about the norm for such an operation, Petty
says. It was around that time that landowners started receiving
letters from the oil and gas companies stating that their leases had
been voided.
In one published report, Petty notes that his own lease was voided
simply because he has a mortgage on his house. “There was no company
name and no phone number on the letter I received, just an address.
I’ve never heard this type of excuse for backing out of a lease.
Ninety percent of people who lease their mineral rights have
Tuesday’s meeting will be the second gathering of disgruntled
landowners in the four-county area around Emmet, with some considering
the options for a lawsuit.
This is just speculation, but some might reckon that suing an oil and
gas company might not be an easy matter, given the barrels of cash
that go with such an enterprise and the ability to throw lawyers at
such an endeavor for nigh onto eternity.
But that’s an option.
“Oil and gas companies have been ripping people off since the first
well was discovered in Pennsylvania (back in the 1800s),” says Petty.
“Fortunately, the internet and the spread of information about your
rights as a landowner have made people a lot smarter about their
rights; and it’s making the oil and gas companies a lot more honest
than they used to be.”
In the meantime, the next time someone knocks on your door offering
easy money in return for the right to drill for natural gas on your
land, you might want to get that money up front, in cash.

The gas leasing informational meeting with attorneys Susan Hlywa Topp
and Bill Rolinski takes place at the Emmet County Community Center at
the fairgrounds in Petoskey, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 7 p.m.

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