Letters 12-05-2016

Trump going back on promises I’m beginning to suspect that we’ve been conned by our new president. He’s backpedaling on nearly every campaign promise he made to us...

This Christmas, think before you speak Now that Trump has won the election, a lot of folks who call themselves Christians seem to believe they have a mandate to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Think about doing this before you start yelling about people saying “happy holidays,” whining about Starbucks coffee cup image(s), complaining about other’s lifestyles…

First Amendment protects prayer (Re: Atheist Gary Singer’s contribution to the Crossed column titled “What will it take to make America great again?” in the Nov. 21 edition of Northern Express.) Mr. Singer, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Evidence of global warming Two basic facts underlay climate science: first, carbon dioxide was known to be a heat-trapping gas as early as 1850; and second, humans are significantly increasing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities. We are in fact well on our way to doubling the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere...

Other community backpack programs I just read your article in the Nov. 28 issue titled “Beneficial backpacks: Two local programs help children.” It is a good article, but there are at least two other such programs in the Traverse City area that I am aware of...

A ‘fox’ in the schoolhouse Trump’s proposed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos (“the fox” in Dutch), is a right-wing billionaire; relentless promoter of unlimited, unregulated charter schools and vouchers; and enemy of public schooling...

Home · Articles · News · Letters · Letters 4/22/04
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Letters 4/22/04

Various - April 22nd, 2004
Democrat‘s best friend
Thank you Mr. Bush!
I just had to write this letter to let you know how much the Democratic Party appreciates you Mr. Bush. After four years of lies, half-truths, unprecedented corruption, total disregard of the working class, and your amazing stupidity, the American people have had enough and they are angry.
How do I know that the public is angry? I know they are angry because of the outpouring of support the Democratic Party is experiencing. Did you know, Mr Bush, that the Democratic Party in Antrim County has had a 37% increase in registered party memebers since January 1 of this year, and did you know that the National Democratic Party has increased membership 63% during the same period? Mr. Bush, you have done more to mobilize party members and to bring new people to the Democratic Party than any President has since John F. Kennedy ran for office, and don‘t think we don‘t appreciate it, Mr. Bush. We appreciate it immensely.
Oh by the way, Mr. Bush, don‘t worry about that unemployment situation you‘ll be facing in January, I understand there are lots of jobs in China if you‘re willing to relocate

Karla Stephens • Mancelona

Common sense & prescription drugs
This letter is a response to the article on prescription drug costs written by Margaret Dodd in the April 1 issue and the letter response by Jim Wibby in the April 8 issue.
Neither the article written by Dodd (4/1 ) or the letter response by Wibby (4/8) reflect much knowledge of business or prescription drug pricing.
Mark-up of drug prices represents the cost of doing business as well as profit. Someone must fill the prescription and dispense the drug. The cost of doing this is between $10 and $15 per prescription.The pharmacy may actually lose money on generic drugs!
If a non-generic drug wholesale cost is $50 and the mark-up is100% (much less than in the survey by Margaret Dodd), the mark-up dollar amount would be $50 ( greater than in the survey). Should this drug have a smaller dollar mark-up or should the generic drug? The prescription drugs are priced to give a reasonable price to patients. It has nothing to do with rip-off or greed. The pharmacy may incur a loss.
We should also be aware of other costs to a pharmacy: salaries, liability insurance, drug and medication stock, taxes, etc.
Regarding the “unconsionable disregard of... the elderly, the unemployed, and anyone who is struggling to pay for their prescription medication,“ I know of pharmacies who work with these people to help them. The Community Health Clinic in Traverse City takes care of and provides prescription drugs to the uninsured and underinsured. Munson Medical Center provides support to the clinic through their pharmacy. Physicians, nurses and clerical help are volunteers. The drugs are provided by major pharmaceutical companies at no cost to patients or the program. Local pharmacies cooperate in helping the patients. Private funds and charities donte money. So much much for greed and rip-off!
There is another program called “The Munson Senior Pharmacy Program.“ It is desioned to help people on Medicare who can not afford prescription drugs. Again, it is supported by Munson, volunteers and drug companies.
I think that Ms. Dodd and Mr. Wibby owe apologies to the pharmacies in the community that provide needed and valuable services. Perhaps they could become aware of and help the people who are working hard to help those in need. Finally, please don‘t politicize this issue. Be grateful for what is being accomplished!

E. Patrick Juras, M.D. • Kewadin

Death in Detroit
As an ex-Detroit police officer, I was appalled at the murder of two young officers at a traffic stop in February.
Although it‘s been many years since I was on the job, this sort of thing would never happen then. Back then, it took between eight and 10 years to be assigned regularly to a scout car. You worked on a car when one of the assigned officers was off on vacation, sick, or on his day off. What that meant was that when you worked on the street, you were always with a seasoned officer to guide you and see that you didn‘t get into trouble.
Ten of the last 12 officers killed by criminals in Detroit have been under 30 years old and most had served on the force less than seven years. On a police force where nearly two-thirds of the officers are black, nine of the last 12 police officers killed in the line of duty were white.
Per capita, Detroit leads the country in the number of police officers killed in the line of duty since 1990.
Detroit Mayor Kilwane Kilpatrick states that the vast majority of supervisory officers are black officers hired during the affirmative action drive of the 1970s and ‘80s, and most of the officers on the street are white. Reverse discrimination now runs through the department.
Last year, the U.S. Justice Department found that street officers did not get proper training, and new officers get little supervision.
Working in Detroit, shootings, cuttings and felonious assaults of all kinds are a daily occurence. When a supervisory officer puts two young rookies on the street by themselves, it‘s like throwing them into the lion‘s den. It‘s not only inexcusable, it‘s criminal.

Robert Need • Petoskey.

Get a job
If the job market is so terrible, and so many people are out of work, or
losing work... why do the local tourist resorts have to resort to looking
for employees in Jamaica, Haiti and Colombia?
We‘re talking hundreds of jobs folks! Who‘s snowing who?

Theresa Cobb • Conway

Pissed-off peacenik
George: You get off some good ones on occasion, but yours of this week
on prayer for our troops was weak, misleading, and generally pap (Random Thoughts 4/15).
I quote: “Peaceniks preface most anti-Bush tirades with support of our military personnel because they are afraid of being perceived as unpatriotic.“ What you need is to talk to a “peacenik.“ Try me for example.
Sure I care about the body bags that come home weekly. I also care about the thousands that will be permanently disabled because of this stupid thing we call “war on terrorism.“ I also feel pain a lot for the over 10,000 Iraqis dead and the more than 50,000 injured, and seriously, that we don‘t even hear about.
Do I sound un-American? You bet your ass! I am totally pissed at this stupid government we now have that no longer even attempts to represent the people. If that statement is un-American, then count me in.
Like your normal stuff anyway and am glad that we have our “Express“ as
a point of reference that goes beyond the usual media news.

James A. Porter • Lake Leelanau

Swan song
Regarding the article about the Don Swan boycott (which was one page too long!), as a guitarist for 34 years, including stints with Splendid Havoc (talk about an ego-based, mediocre band!), and my good Mark Staycer/John Lennon, including the Cherry Festival, never having sent a letter to Express in the four years I‘ve lived here, (while reading every one), I felt the time was right to do so and set a few things straight from a musician‘s point of view.
I played with Don when we opened for Brian Schram (another highly over-rated guitar slinger), at Union Street on December 23. He called me, and I was flattered to be asked. I spent three or four nights a week for the next two weeks, driving to Suttons Bay in miserable weather, for rehearsal, because I‘d chatted briefly with him on various occasions to try to get an opportunity to play with him, and to be part of the band‘s future. We had a good group of talented people. Immediately commencing with the first rehearsal, the group (which included Roland Woodring, the best drummer in town), was yelled at, lectured, sworn at by someone who needs to switch to decaf and increase his blood pressure medication. While I‘m a pretty laid back person, you cannot tell me that you have to have an ego the size of a Hummer to “get up on stage.“ I‘ve been doing it for 15 years with no problem. All I‘ve ever wanted to be was a good, dependable sideman, no ego required. Don was totally obsessed with the fact that Madonna‘s brother was going to be at Union Street, and it was clear this gig was all about him, not us as a group, then OR in the future. Don has had probably three or four incarnations of “Radio Flyers,“ at least partially due to the fact that none of the gigs he lines up are paying venues, Union Street included. I previously asked him point blank about that and he said he‘d had disagreements with Ed Roth, his former guitarist (and a good guy), and the rest of the band about not having played a single paying gig. (Of course as any long-term Traverse City musician will tell you, heaven forbid that you would expect to get PAID anything for performing, anywhere in town!). So after having gone through probably a dozen or so musicians in the area and no doubt having angered just about everyone he‘s come in contact with, is it any wonder that somone would put out flyers about “The Flyers“?
And as a musician of 34 years, I‘ve tried writing songs, too. It‘s difficult. Ask Bob Downes. That‘s why professionals in Nashville get paid to put out catchy, memorable songs. Don‘s “original“ songs are simply not very good, in chord stucture, melody, any way you look at it. They all sound the same, are not clever or catchy or memorable in any way as to propel him to stardom from his humble Traverse City (via Detroit) starting point, regardless of how many free gigs he puts his current band up to. If he‘s getting paid to host an open mic night (where “local“ musicians get to come up and play for free while Mojo and the Boogiemen get handed yet another lock on an establishment up here), I‘ll bet it‘s the first time in two years he has.
I realize that Rick Coates gets paid to write warm fuzzies about any band that contacts him in search of free publicity, and not to critique (Let alone write a REVIEW, something sorely lacking in the Express!), or actually say anything un-positive about the local music scene, if you can even call it that. What truly disappoints me is that you project the impression that there is so little else around here to write about that you take up an entire page writing about somone, who, frankly, really isn‘t near as good as he (and the Express), make him out to be. Joe Namath had an ego, and he put his money where his mouth was. So did Muhammad Ali. A big ego may be acceptable if you have talent to back it up. I do not believe Don Swan is in that same category.

David Caluory • via email

(For what it‘s worth, a letter sent from “Their Guardian Angel“ heaped on praise for Don Swan‘s efforts as an entertainer and musician, but since it was unsigned, the Express could not run it. -- ed.)

Hitting the WalMart
Thanks for the excellent article on WalMart (MallWart) by Robert Downes (3/25). It was great to see this important topic put into a regional context. I wanted to share with your readers a related and inspiring story I ran across in Jim Hightower‘s monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. In the February issue he compared WalMart‘s labor practices with those of another large warehouse retailer, Costco:

“...a full-time Costco clerk or warehouse worker earns more than $41,000 a
year, plus getting terrific healthcare coverage. WalMart workers get barely a
third of that pay, plus a lousy healthcare plan. Costco even has unions! Yet
Costco‘s total labor costs are only about half of WalMart‘s. How‘s that
possible? One big reason is that Costco workers feel valued and their morale is
high, which adds enormously to the company‘s productivity. Also, they don‘t
tend to leave—employee turnover is a tiny fraction of WalMart‘s always-revolving
door, where staff turnover tops 50 percent a year! It‘s enormously expensive
to be on a constant cycle of recruiting, training, and losing employees.
Even a 10 percent reduction in employee turnover is said to produce a 20 percent
savings on labor costs.... While WalMart makes twice as much profit as Costco,
Costco is doing way better than most corporations, with stock value up 354
percent in the past 10 years.“

What I like best about this story is the fact that doing the right thing from
a moral/ethical standpoint turns out to be a sound business practice as well.
Hightower reports that the company‘s CEO, Jim Sinegal, believes the better
business model is to “...enjoy a nice profit, not a killing, while investing
more in Costco‘s 92,000 workers. That‘s not altruism,“ Sinegal says, “It‘s
good business.“
Maybe when WalMart fails to get approval for its plans in our area, planners
could send out an invitation to Costco.

Tim Johnson • Suttons Bay

Build a hill
Traverse City met on April 13 to discuss the removal of the power plant at the open space. The city commission wants to know what should be done with the site. What should be done?
Build a hill.
Ha ha, right? Yes, right. No kidding. Build a hill, and here‘s why
The hill would provide many things. The number of benefits that the hill would provide far out weigh the cost for the hill.
It would provide more open space than any flat space could.
No cars will ever be parked on the hill.
Trees. How about white pine.
Provide 360 degree views of the bay and downtown;
Sledding in the winter;
Picnicking in the summer;
Sunsets all year long;
An extra training tool for the runners;
More seating for fireworks watchers;
More seating for concert watchers;
Cheap to maintain;
More grass, less pavement;
Telescopes to view far out into the bay and up the peninsulas.
How much can it possibly cost to build a hill? It‘s gotta‘ be cheap, doesn‘t it?
Start adding your ideas.
Its simple. It‘s a hill. Don‘t be afraid to think outside of the box (buildings are boxes). At first the hill will sound strange, but when you really think about it, it offers something for everyone, its a cheap year round solution, and it may make history!

Duncan White • TC

Whither WNMC?
in response to the Robert Apap letter “Air Waves“ in the March 18 issue regarding the omission of WNMC-FM from the Northern Express “best of“ survey. Yes, it‘s a shame that WNMC didn‘t make the list, but to me it‘s rather obvious why this happened. A daytime format/playlist that relies almost entirely on outdated, arcane musical styles; an unresponsive, self-indulgent program director who ignores the needs and desires of the community at large; a very conservative, arrogant, almost elitist attitude by certain DJs and management as a whole; and an excessive amount of commercials are just a few of the reasons why I didn‘t vote for WNMC.
Yes, it‘s a shame when one considers taht a few years ago WNMC used to be the perennial favorite for the number one spot in the Northern Express “best of“ survey. I‘ll bet the brain trust at WNMC worked overtime to figure out a way to change all that. What a concept -- take something good and make it worse. For that, the decision-makers can take great pride in knowing that they have been very successful.

Lance Golba • Fife Lake

Rained on parade
While I would like to commend the Northern Express for featuring an environmental issue, April 8 and helping the citizens of the greater Grand Traverse region celebrate our imperiled and challenged planet, I feel an expression of my concurrent disappointment needs attention.
The Traverse City Earth Day parade was not mentioned in the text of the environmental issue and should have been. Preparations for this event have been underway for over six months. Artists and activists from Little Artshram, Rhythmic Adventures, The Artcenter of Traverse City, Traverse City High School, Central Grade Elementary School, Glen Lake Elementary School, and other groups in the area have tirelessly organized meetings, community art workshops, and inspired people of all ages to cultivate their creative side. In addition they have finally been offered a space, the Art Center of Traverse City, after years of searching for a space to create the puppets and masks of species of all kinds for the parade.
The Earth Day Parade seeks to bridge the arts, the environment, and our local community. As a ce~ebration of art, it involves citizens in a creative process affirming art‘s place in the forum of public expression. As a celebration of species, it awakens public sensibilities to the issues surrounding environmental awareness and protection. This year‘s parade will be on April 24 starting at 2 p.m. at Central Grade School. For more information please contact Little Artshram at 228-3493.

Natasha Lapinski • Maple City
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