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An Exercise of Power

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Trick or Treat...

Robert Downes - October 25th, 2010
Trick or Treat...
This used to be the time of year when you kept your black cat indoors
at night and peered out the window now and then to make sure that
young hoodlums weren’t out smashing pumpkins and acting up on “Devil’s
Night.”
Those were the days when teens were revved up to go out tossing eggs
and toilet paper at night, spray-painting graffiti, and role-playing
in inappropriate places like cemeteries.
But these days when I peer out my window at night, it seems more
likely that I’ll catch sight of the Headless Horseman going down the
street than a juvenile delinquent. You just don’t see many teens out
rambling around at night anymore, goofing off. Seems like the action
has all gone indoors, with the mischief-makers more inclined to huddle
by the hearth of a video game.
This is not to lament the lack of juvenile delinquents, but it does
seem unfortunate that young people seem to be an increasingly
indoor-oriented bunch.
The state of Colorado just announced that deer hunting licenses are
way down this year because fewer young people care to go tramping
around in the woods these days. You get a lot cleaner kill when you’re
aiming at a Grunt with a plasma blaster in a Halo game, after all, and
there’s no heavy animal to gut and drag out of the swamp.
Haven’t seen a report on deer hunting licenses from the Michigan DNR
this year, but they were down by 40,000 in 2009. No one has laid this
at the feet of the ‘Indoor Nation’ yet, but it wouldn’t come as much
of a surprise if that trend continued.
Why is this a problem? Because if no one dares the outdoors, then no
one cares. The protection of our forests, lakes and rivers depends
upon people who grew up loving the outdoors and wild places.
***
Traverse City Light & Power has whipped up quite a fuss over the past
year. In addition to outrage over the utility’s proposal for a biomass
plant and the dubious nature of their public hearings, TCL&P’s recent
newsletter highlighted board member Ralph Soffredine, who happens to
be running for a seat on the Grand Traverse County Commission.
Ralph is a popular city commissioner and former police chief; he
surely didn’t need TCL&P’s extra “push,” and this blunder only added
credence to the critics’ claims that the city-owned utility should be
reined-in. Traverse City Proposal 1 would amend the city charter to
bring TCL&P’s operations back under the control of the city
commission. Apparently, the present board would assume an advisory
position.
One might suggest, however, that there‘s already a high degree of
public oversight on TCL&P, as evidenced by the uproar over biomass and
their newsletter. As TCL&P Board Chairman Mike Coco notes in this
issue, the utility has “received the message.” (We’ll run an opposing
viewpoint in next week’s issue, by the way.)
So TC needs to ask, is it wise to put more demands on the city
commission’s workload? The recession is easing and the commission
will be faced with numerous decisions on renewed development and
issues such as roundabouts, new hotels and building projects, road
renewals and the like. Do they need the added grief of addressing
complex energy issues as we search for a greener future?
Vote no on Proposal 1.
***
Some of us feel that the media has been far too charitable in giving
the Tea Party the benefit of the doubt in their claims of defending
freedom under the U.S. Constitution.
You can be kind to a fault, however, and when Tea Party Ding-a-Ling in
Chief and candidate for U.S. Senator Christine O’Donnell revealed that
she didn’t have a clue as to the meaning of the First Amendment last
week, it seemed time to call a “time out” for the patriots in the
powdered wigs who apparently flunked their high school civics class.
Before an audience of (laughing) law students and professors, a
disbelieving O’Donnell said it was all news to her that the First
Amendment guarantees the separation of church and state. The First
Amendment was established by our founding fathers in part to keep
government out of the religion business, and vice-versa. In the 1700s,
the blood-bath of state-sponsored religions in Europe was still fresh
in memory and America wanted no part of it.
For the Tea Party, “the Constitution” seems to be a hazy concept that
begins and ends with the Second Amendment and a plan to kick
immigrants out of the country by scuttling the 14th Amendment. Then
there are those who believe America should be governed by readings
from the Old Testament. Like O’Donnell, some seem to be making up
their own version of the Constitution as they go along.
What‘s really dismal about the Tea Party, however, is the news in
recent weeks that it‘s funded by a handful of billionaires whose
goals are no different than those of the lobbyists steering Washington
D.C., with the aim of the rich getting richer and the further
outsourcing of jobs overseas. Poorly educated people like Christine
“I’m-not-a-witch” O’Donnell are all too easily manipulated by the Mad
Hatters who finance the Tea Party.

 
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