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 · Random Thoughts · Exploratory surgery...
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Exploratory surgery 4/4/11

Robert Downes - April 4th, 2011
Exploratory Surgery
Remember the days of exploratory surgery? Probably not if you’re under the
age of 40, but in the days before the CT scan came into wide use back in
the ’70s, and certainly long before MRIs, surgeons had little choice but
to open you up and peek around at your innards if something like a tumor,
hernia, or internal bleeding was suspected.
Of course, this was a dangerous and uncertain form of diagnosis, fraught
with the risk of infection and sure to leave you with a painful surgical
wound with no guarantee that the surgeon would even find anything.
Perhaps it’s a misplaced metaphor, but I can’t help thinking that our new
Governor Rick Snyder is wearing those same bloody shoe covers in the
operating room of the state capital, trying to find out why his patient is
hemorrhaging and how to pump life back into Michigan before our state dies
on the table.
The difference of course, is that we don’t need exploratory surgery to
tell us why Michigan is in trouble: we have unfunded mandates with no
money to pay for them; we’ve suffered the loss of much of our
manufacturing base, along with their tax revenues; we’ve got too many
prisoners in our corrections system to house and feed; and most recently,
we’ve got a declining census, to name a few.
So personally, I’ve withheld judgement on some of the things Gov. Snyder
has proposed, because this is the point in the show where Drs. Kildare,
Grey and Ross are screaming for more crash carts, clamps and tourniquets
in what can only be a dangerous operation with an uncertain outcome.
If nothing else, our new governor has people talking. Between the flood of
letters to newspapers across the state and the protests in Lansing, we’re
discussing Michigan’s direction as we’ve never done before.
Some of what Gov. Snyder has proposed strikes me as ill-advised. Recently,
for instance, George Clooney was in Ann Arbor and Clawson filming his
latest, The Ides of March. The film employed 1,000 extras in Ann Arbor and
surely pumped some dollars into the state economy, as did the new release,
Cedar Rapids, which was also filmed in Michigan. So is it wise to cap the
tax credits on Michigan’s film industry just when it’s starting to show
promise? We need more glamour in our state, not less, and that’s an
intangible benefit that should be considered.
Then there’s his idea for licensing more coal plants in Michigan. That’s
not very forward-looking, and Snyder campaigned in part on his “green”
On the other hand, it’s hard to believe that ending the earned income tax
credit for “the poor” will actually make much of a difference to people in
that situation, as protesters claim. And taxing pensions at the much
reduced state rate (compared to the federal tax on pensions) sounds like a
sensible idea, considering that other states are doing the same. After
all, as guest opinion writer Michael Estes notes elsewhere in this issue,
the 401k’s of those of us who don’t have pensions are taxed.
As for Snyder’s idea of Emergency Financial Managers taking over
municipalities and school systems that are train wrecks, that’s a
dictatorship plain and simple.
But how do you fix something like the Detroit Public Schools, which had a
budget deficit of $363 million last year and a dropout rate of 75% of its
students, despite all of the tax dollars we shovel in its direction?
What about Detroit and Flint, which have degenerated into third world
cities, notorious for their political stagnation? Will their suffering
residents protest if an Emergency Financial Manager steps in to improve
their lives?
The funny thing about Gov. Snyder is that he’s a Republican and claims to
be a conservative, yet some of his solutions would be blasted as being
radically liberal -- even Marxist -- if they had been proposed by a
Democrat. Can you imagine the grief that Republicans would have rained
down if Gov. Granholm had suggested taxing pensions as a way out of
Michigan’s problems?
Each election cycle, many of us promise that we’ll vote for “change.” We
toss out the old, ineffectual governors and legislators and vote for the
person who convinces us that he or she has that “change” thing down in
But as with surgery, “change” can be a synonym for “pain.” Change doesn’t
mean we get promised a rose garden -- it means we get promised the thorns.
Gov. Snyder is the change we voted for; right or wrong, he’s shown us that
healing Michigan will be a painful process.

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