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 · Features · Deported
. . . .


Rick Coates - December 27th, 2010
Deported: Liz Larios faces life in Juarez
This is Part II of the story of Liz Larios and Russell Horn. Part I
appeared in the November 29 issue and may be read online at
www.northernexpress.com in the archives section.
Liz Larios and her family were deported to Juarez, Mexico from
Traverse City the day before Thanksgiving after spending years in the
region. Liz’s fiancé Russell Horn sold everything he owned and raised
$3,000 to join her in Mexico. The couple spoke to Express contributing
editor Rick Coates in a phone interview last week.

By Rick Coates:

NE: Liz, talk about this experience for you over the past month.
Liz Larios: This is a complete nightmare. I never thought this would
happen to me. I can truly say I was extremely happy with my life,
having a loving fiancé , my dog, and a great little home and two jobs
in Traverse City.
That day started out so perfect; I kissed Russell goodbye and he
headed to work; the next thing I know I’m in a cold room with no
blankets, hungry, and very upset, but at least I was with my mom. We
had each other to hold as we cried ourselves to sleep. I spent a total
of 15 days in jail, the worst thing I could have ever gone through.
Everyone was in there for drug-related reasons but I was there for not
having a piece of paper stating that I was legal.

NE: Where are you now?
Larios: I’m very thankful to be alive, Juarez is called a “ghost
town.” Everyone that can save money to move away does. There is at
least 15 murders a day and abandoned homes everywhere. I don’t think I
would be able to continue if I didn’t have Russell. He has been my
angel, giving me advice and telling me to be strong on the days when I
just want to give up; like the day my grandmother took us to my
parent’s old home where my brother was found dead a year and a half
ago. There I found the old wire he was hung from and all of the oils
and blood his body left behind. I liked to watch CSI and to me it
seems as nothing was properly processed.
I live in fear everyday afraid that something will happen to me and my
parents. I don’t go out in public once it is dark and I don’t use my
cellphone unless I’m indoors at a relative’s house.

Russell Horn: This place (Juarez has a population of 1.5 million) is
crazy. We hear gunshots and sirens all day and night every day.
Listening to mothers cry for their innocent children who get caught in
the crossfire of the drug war down here. We’ve been trying to keep a
low profile, but it’s not hard to tell that we’re not from around
here. My plates say I am from Michigan and the Mexican government
wants $800 for local plates. We have been followed home a few times
and just  keep driving until those following turn away. We have even
had bullets hit our house.

NE: This must be difficult; after all, in Juarez over the past few
years, hundreds of young women have fallen victim to sexual homicides
and their bodies dumped in ditches or vacant lots. Most of these
murders and disappearances go unsolved. A 2007 book called “The
Daughters of Juárez,” and the 2006 book “The Harvest of Women” by
journalist Diana Washington Valdez, along with the Jennifer Lopez film
“Border Town” has brought the spotlight on life for young women in
Juarez. You have to be frightened?
Larios: Yes, after what has happened to my brother, my sister-in-law
and other family members, I live every waking moment in fear.
I lived almost 20 years in the United States, I graduated from high
school in Traverse City. I had a life there. Now I am a person without
a home and really without a country. I do not speak fluent Spanish; my
relatives call it Spanglish. I try to look down and not speak to
anyone. We can’t go out at night. The drug cartel is known to kidnap
Americans, or even Mexicans with American families.
Horn: Liz is a prime target of the drug cartel. She is young and
beautiful. They grab women like her, sexually abuse them and kill
them. We are all vulnerable because of our American connections. If
the cartel finds out, we could be kidnapped and held for ransom.
Liz’s parents promised my mom that they would be killed before anyone
harmed Liz or I. The men here stare at Liz in a disgusting way and
give me a look as if they’re thinking of making me disappear. We’re
keeping our faith, and trusting in God to protect us. I’m not afraid,
because I know God has a plan for us.

NE: What is the next step?
Horn: We are currently living in a home that belongs to Liz’s aunt. It
has no furniture and is in very bad shape. Liz’s father is very handy
and I have brought his tools and he hopes to find work that way. We
are trying to fix up the home that belonged to the family, the one
that her brother was hung by the drug cartel and his wife beaten to
death in front of him. Our hope is to sell that.
I am using the money I raised in Traverse City to help them pay for
food and other necessary supplies. Soon I will apply for what is
called a fiancé visa. We are also looking into a student visa. It will
take six months to process those.
I have a friend who lives in Texas so I hope to find work there so I
am close to Liz. I need to come up with several thousands of dollars
to pay for the fees to get her legal again here in the United States.
After that we hope to get married soon and resume our lives in our
hometown of Traverse City. But like Liz, I am now a person without a
home or a job. We have to lock the gate around the small home each
night as well as deadbolt the doors and windows. I sleep at night with
a gun in my hand, wondering if this is the way God wants his people to

After Part One appeared in the Express, a documentary filmmaker
contacted Horn and provided him with a digital camera to document his
travels. Details on the film project and an update on their progress
will appear in a coming issue of the Express. Several people from
Northern Michigan made financial contributions to assist Russell and
Liz and anyone interested may still do so by going to 5th/3rd Bank and
asking for the “Russell T. Horn, Jr.’s account Operation: Save Liz.”
To reach out to Russell and Liz, search for them on Facebook.

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