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 · Dark Sky Park
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Dark Sky Park

Kristi Kates - November 15th, 2010
Dark Sky Park: She’s preserving the star shine at The Headlands in Emmet County
By Kristi Kates
Residents of many rural communities in Northern Michigan are fortunate
to benefit from less light pollution than that which occurs in and
around major cities. One Harbor Springs resident hopes to keep it that
 “The National Parks and Conservation Association estimates that only
10% of the U.S. population is afforded the opportunity to see the
night sky in its natural state,” Mary Stewart Adams explains.
Adams, a Dark Sky advocate, is working towards having a location in
Emmet County specially-designated as a Dark Sky Park, which is, as she
explains it, “a public, protected place with exceptional night sky
That’s pretty much the basics - but becoming an accredited Dark Sky
Park is another thing entirely.

Many Dark Sky initiatives are being presented around the country (see
www.darksky.org) in an effort to fight light pollution and give people
the opportunity to see the night sky as it should be seen. Adams, who
points out that there are only four official Dark Sky Parks in the
U.S. (there are also Dark Sky Preserves, and some cities designated as
Dark Sky Communities), explains that there are even distinctions
within these locales.
“You can be a Dark Sky Park with bronze, silver or gold designation,
depending on the quality of dark sky in your location,” she says.
Creating a Dark Sky Park also takes a commitment on the part of the
people involved in stewarding the land in question.
International designation as a Dark Sky Park, however, is something
granted by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) in Tucson,
Arizona and involves a rigorous process of application, approval and
“There must be public nighttime access, and the sky itself must be an
outstanding dark sky resource relative to the population it serves,”
Adams explains. “Existing lights must be inventoried, and the night
sky must be measured as to quality and darkness to determine the level
of designation we are eligible for. Our application must also show how
the lighting guidelines have affected change and lighting design in
the park.”

So what are the reasons for all of this effort? There are many - some
astronomy-based or astrology-focused, and some more grounded in
terrestrial matters.
“Having dark skies allows for enhanced naked eye and telescopic
viewing of the worlds beyond our own,” Adams says. “It provides a safe
and natural environment for nocturnal creatures, and it is also fuel
for the imagination. Most cultural beliefs are based on our
understanding of our place in the cosmic order. A Dark Sky Park
benefits astronomers and astrologers alike, for essentially they are
both storytellers, telling the stories of the stars that can be seen
overhead, providing light pollution doesn’t diminish our ability to
see. Ours is a time of using the amazing technology available to us to
explore the physical environment out there.”
The Emmet County site, which will be at The Headlands, a 600-acre
county-owned park two miles west of Mackinaw City, boasts pristine
woods and miles of undisturbed shoreline. It is densely populated with
trees and wildlife, and was chosen because of its ideal locale, its
dark environment, and -- although it might at first seem
counterintuitive -- its adjacency to one of Michigan’s primary tourist
“Being near Mackinaw allows us to send a wonderful message to a lot of
people, and demonstrates our intention to protect our resources,”
Adams says.

Adams’ work on the Dark Sky Park has been tireless, involving many
presentations and negotiations with Emmet County Commissioners, who
have, Adams says, “unanimously supported our efforts from the
beginning.” Petoskey resident Mary Lou Tanton and Mackinaw City
author/columnist Fred Gray have helped her spearhead the plan, and
she’s also working with Parks and Recreation Director Laurie Gaetano
and Director of Emmet County Planning and Zoning Brentt Michalek. A
letter of nomination from Northern Michigan astronomer Patrick
Stonehouse has also been acquired.
A county resolution and guidelines for the Headlands Dark Sky Park are
expected to be drafted and submitted to the IDA before the end of this
year. In the meantime, Adams continues to pursue her other astronomy
and astrology-related activities, which include teaching, writing, and
the publishing of her interactive night sky lore/fairy-tale calendar,
which she’s dubbed Fairy Tale Moons.
“We’ve hosted several wonderful events and star parties while we’re
waiting,” Adams says, “there is no need to wait for (official)
designation to experience the wonders of the night.”

Adams also points out many interesting astronomical events that are
taking place soon, including the total lunar eclipse that will happen
just hours before the Winter Solstice on December 21.
“It will be visible from Northern Michigan,” she says, “and it’s also
occurring two years prior to the much-talked-about end of the Mayan
Adams says that the best way to experience this event, or the night
sky itself, is simply to go outside and look up - after you’ve
adjusted your own household outdoor lighting to maximize your viewing
“Do your own lighting inventory,” she suggests, “position, time, and
measure your outdoor lights so that they emit only the amount of light
The next step is to get a star map. “Michigan State University
publishes an internationally-acclaimed sky map for the very reasonable
price of $11 a year,” Adams points out.
Or get more education on what you’re looking for by visiting one of
the observa-tories in the region, of which we have two: the Rogers
Observatory of Northwest Michigan College in Traverse City, and the
Besser Museum Observatory in Alpena.
“And of course, there are the ongoing events at the Headlands and my
own Fairy Tale Moons calendar,” Adams says.
“There are dark skies all over northern Michigan,” she says, “but
creating an intentional Dark Sky Park raises awareness and fosters

More info on progress of the Dark Sky Park designation may be found at
www.emmetcounty.org/darkskypark/ and a special overnight program and
eclipse viewing event will be held at the Headlands guest House on
Dec. 21. Mary Stewart Adams’ Fairy Tale Moons calendars for 2011 are
available for sale locally in independent bookstores and through her
website, www.fairytalemoons.com. She will be giving talks at Between
the Covers in Harbor Springs on Nov. 26, at the Petoskey Open House on
Dec. 3, and at both Horizon Books in Traverse City and Petoskey on
Dec. 18.

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