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 · Other Opinions · TCL&P: Vote No on Prop 1...
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TCL&P: Vote No on Prop 1

Mike Coco - October 25th, 2010
TCL&P: Vote No on Prop 1
By Mike Coco

On November 2, Traverse City voters will be asked to make a radical
change to the City Charter, our constitution, regarding Traverse City
Light & Power (“TCL&P”).
TCL&P has received the message that many people in our community are
passionate about having a thoughtful energy plan that reflects our
community’s values. This includes addressing energy use and
generation in a more environmentally conscious and sustainable way.
As the current board chairman, I assure you that the TCL&P board
embraces and welcomes this community discussion. We have not performed
well recently in our public engagement; we are working to do better.
We welcome a process that involves all stakeholders and citizen groups
that are willing to work with us collaboratively.
Voting NO on Proposal 1 is critically important to the energy future
of Traverse City; here are six reasons why:

First, there has been no public process to specifically determine what
may need to be changed with the TCL&P board or how best to make those
changes. Contrast this with how TCL&P’s volunteer board was
established. Over 30 years ago, Traverse City citizens and the City
Commission studied TCL&P’s governance and operations. That community
process took place over a three year period and involved two public
votes establishing the TCL&P board. The study’s leaders, the City
Commission and the public all concluded that the operations of TCL&P
were becoming more complex and time consuming requiring a specialized
board. The community decided then to separate TCL&P operations from
the City after a careful and well-conceived process.

Second, the City Charter currently provides substantial oversight of
TCL&P by the City Commission. Two city commissioners sit on the TCL&P
board. The other five volunteer board members are appointed by the
City Commission after a public recruiting process. If necessary, the
mayor has the authority to suspend board members and the City
Commission may remove board members. The City Commission annually
approves TCL&P’s budget and capital improvement plan. Should TCL&P
request to issue bonds for capital projects, the city commission must
give their approval. These are just a few of the checks and balances
already in place in our City Charter.

Third, we have four out of seven city commission seats up for election
every 24 months. As a $30 million business owned by the citizens,
TCL&P benefits from having lower turnover as volunteer board members
are appointed for five-year terms. It’s one of the key reasons
citizens voted to separate the two entities three decades ago. Most
energy programs and projects are developed after years of study (with
significant cost) before a shovel ever hits the ground. Our community
will not benefit from subjecting such planning to shorter term

Fourth, TCL&P has been trusted to make the right decisions for
decades. You trusted TCL&P to remove the aging coal plant from the
bay and to transfer the land over to the city for parkland. Our
utility established energy efficiency programs years prior to being
required by state law. Such early efforts have helped TCL&P beat
state energy efficiency requirements by greater than 70% last year.
• In 1996, TCL&P erected the first utility-grade windmill in Michigan
and established the Green Rate.
• In 2008 TCL&P invested in landfill gas. That same year, TCL&P
listened to west-side residents regarding transmission line upgrades.
• In 2009 TCL&P signed an agreement to deliver 10 megawatts of wind
energy to Traverse City from the exciting wind project in McBain.
TCL&P now receives more wind generation as a percentage of its total
energy (7%) than any other utility in Michigan.
• Most recently, TCL&P announced Community Solar, to bring local solar
to Traverse City.

Fifth, our community is challenged with finding a replacement for 50%
of our baseload-generation needs for the first time in 25 years. This
community and the TCL&P board make many energy decisions, but
decisions of this magnitude are once-in-a-generation. We did not get
it right the first time. The TCL&P board has learned a lot over the
last year and we are committed to trying again to get it right. We
have to do better, as this challenge still remains for our community.

Sixth, when it comes to the nuts-and-bolts of what TCL&P does, our
community owned utility excels. TCL&P is 100% debt free, operating in
the black and has saved for planned capital improvement projects. Our
community’s rates are 25% below those of surrounding providers.
TCL&P’s reliability is 72% to 83% better than that of surrounding
providers. Our utility has a perfect safety record for three years
running. When you call TCL&P in the middle of the night, a TCL&P
staff member located on Hastings Street directly answers the phone.
No messages or phone-trees.

Summarizing all this, I want you to know that TCL&P staff and board
members are listening. We agree that citizen input into our
citizen-owned utility is vital to successful energy planning and to
the future of the Grand Traverse region. The proper process to solving
any concerns about TCL&P and energy planning is a public process, not
a short-sighted ballot measure that incorporates politics into our
utility decision-making. As a longtime resident of this community, and
as someone who has made a conscious decision to stay and raise my
family here, as your neighbor and as a volunteer TCL&P board member, I
urge you to vote NO on November 2.

Mike Coco lives in Traverse City with his family and has served as a
volunteer on the board for Traverse City Light & Power since April
2008. He is currently serving one year as Chairman of the Board.
Mike works as Vice President of Contract Management for Choice
Property Resources, Inc., volunteers on several nonprofit boards, is
active in Bay Pointe Community Church and has a Bachelor of Arts in
Political Science from Miami (OH) University.

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