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 · Driving under the bus...
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Driving under the bus 3/21/11

Stephen Tuttle - March 21st, 2011
Diving Under the Bus
Are we kidding?
There is a growing group of misinformed folks out there who seem to be
convinced public employee unions are the cause of both the recession and
the budget deficits. If only we could do away with those horrible unions
then everything will be all right.
The anti-union rhetoric usually takes two forms. The first dredges up some
egregious example of costs associated with wages and benefits in New
Jersey or New York City or some other place where union contracts have run
amok. They like to pick someone at the top of the pay scale and then
combine salary and benefits to arrive at some breathtakingly large figure.
If they really want to juice the numbers they’ll add in the anticipated
total cost of any pension plan.
The second front of the attack is both simpler and meaner: “I don’t make
decent money or get any benefits so why should they?”
Maybe we should take a look at the other end of the scale.
The Traverse City Trans-portation Association just ratified a new
contract, their first in 3 years. They are members of a public employee
union. They drive our school buses.
The drivers make $14 an hour, tops. Even if they worked a 40 hour week,
which they do not, and worked the entire school year they would earn less
than $18,000 a year. Most drivers actually make closer to $12,000
True enough, they are not required to have advanced degrees or years of
specialized training. But they do have our children’s lives in their hands
twice a day, five days a week for nine months. Imagine your worst,
loudest, most crowded car pool experience, multiply it by eight or ten and
then repeat it 185 times.
Next year their budget will be slashed by a staggering $600,000 and they
will lose a string of benefits, lose all of their aides, and experience
changes in their healthcare coverage effectively increasing their
deductible to $2,000 a year. As a bonus, eligibility requirements for
health insurance have been changed and 14 of the 56 current employees will
be eliminated from coverage altogether.
At the same time, Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS), which employs
the bus drivers, has announced six of their administrators will take a 5%
pay cut next year after taking a 2% increase, retroactive through last
year. These employees have an average annual salary of about $100,000.
This benevolence will save the district about $33,000.
The fact is the overwhelming majority of public employees, including
teachers and public safety workers, do not make huge salaries or retire on
gigantic pensions. Administrators and corporate executives do.
Nationally, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal
Employees (AFSCME), the country’s largest public employee union, reports
their average member makes about $45,000 a year and retires with a pension
of about $19,000 a year. That is a livable wage and a nice supplement to
Social Security but hardly excessive pay or an extravagant pension.
To be sure, there are examples of outrageous union contracts with pay
beyond the value of the job and benefits beyond the pale. But they are
the rare exception. Especially now.
Virtually every union and every union member understands they are going to
have to make concessions. They will have to shoulder a larger share of
the burden by contributing more to both their retirement and health
insurance systems. Many will likely take salary cuts.
But public employee unions most decidedly did not cause the current
economic mess. They did not cause tech stocks to crash in the late
‘90s. Unions had nothing to do with the house-buying frenzy and
subsequent crash and ongoing foreclosure disaster. There were no union
contracts or benefits that caused a handful of greed-driven traders at
a handful of Wall Street firms to game the system and practically
collapse our financial institutions. And they didn’t start wars that
cost us hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives.
We do need to have a real discussion about the long-term impact of public
employee pension systems and whether or not they are sustainable in their
current form. But that discussion does not require the demonization of
public employees or the destruction of their unions.
Are we really intent on lowest common denominator salaries and benefits?
I don’t get any so, by God, nobody else is going to get any, either?
That’s not a plan, it’s economic nihilism.
Traverse City school bus drivers are thankful to have work. The contract
TCAPS offered was pretty clear – ratify it or your jobs could be
privatized. They chose a very small carrot over a very big stick. They
are shouldering more than their fair share of the sacrifices we’re all
Making them, or other public employees, the villains will accomplish
nothing other than starting a cascade of lower wages and decreasing
benefits that will negatively impact every person who works for a living
whether they are union members or not. The rich will get richer and the
rest of us will be left to pick up whatever crumbs they leave behind.
So, if we’re going to throw public employees under the bus, we might as
well dive in after them.

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