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 · Lost in the Mail : Teacher who...
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Lost in the Mail : Teacher who tried to ship car from California winds up riding a bicycle

Patrick Sullivan - August 29th, 2011
Lost in the Mail: Teacher who tried to ship car from California winds up riding a bicycle
By Patrick Sullivan
David Allen knew trying to have his car shipped to Northern Michigan from California was going to be expensive and a big hassle.
Little did he know it would be a hassle he would still be dealing with eight months later.
Last December the history and political science teacher attempted to have his white 2006 Nissan Altima shipped from Los Angeles to his new home in Interlochen, where he had taken a teaching position a few months earlier.
“The plan was for me to get my car and go home and see my family for the holidays,” said Allen, a Boston native whose family still lives in Massachusetts.
Allen looked online and found a company called Tristar Trucking of Glen Head, New York, that would set up the car delivery for $745, a price that sounded fair to Allen.
He paid a deposit and received the contract on a Friday afternoon and called the company to ask some questions.
A company representative refused to go over the contract with him, told him he had to get off the phone because he “has a social life,” and left Allen wondering what he was getting into.
That should have been a red flag, Allen says now.
Allen said he just hoped his car would arrive soon so he could get home for Christmas with his family.
But last year, Allen would have no Christmas with his family.

The next thing Allen heard about his car was a message from someone who said a company Allen had not heard of, BPB Trans Corp., would be picking up his car in Los Angeles.
A few days later Allen learned that he would need to pay up to $725 upon delivery of his vehicle. Even though he’d already paid a deposit and this would be more than he initially agreed to pay, Allen relented.
“I’m not going to dicker over 25 or 50 dollars here or there,” Allen said. “It just began to unravel as a less-than-above-board business proposition.”
A week later Allen received a call from someone who said they were the truck driver. The person said he was in Michigan and would be delivering the car soon. Later that evening, he got another call. This time the driver told him he would not be coming all the way to Interlochen.
The driver said he was in Grand Rapids and he was going to drop the car off in Detroit.
Allen said he tried to reason with the driver but the driver finally hung up on him.
The next day, on Dec. 28, Allen talked to someone at Tristar who told him he had no control over the drivers. Allen said he was told: “’I can’t hold a gun to his head and make him drive somewhere he doesn’t want to drive to. ...Just hop on a plane and go and get it.’”
Allen said he pointed out he had a contract that promised delivery to Interlochen but the guy just told him to “’go and get your car.’”
People at Tristar only became more belligerent with him after that, Allen said.

Sam Farrell, a representative of Tristar, denied his company did anything wrong.
He said the contract was changed verbally and David Allen agreed to have the car delivered to Detroit.
“What happened was, we couldn’t bring it to where he was, it was all the way up in a nowhere place,” Farrell said. “So the driver brought it to Detroit and he put it in a storage facility.”
Farrell insisted that Allen agreed to the change and could have gone with another company if he didn’t like it.
“We had it in the contract (to deliver the car to Interlochen), but before the car was picked up we told him we couldn’t do it,” Farell said. “He said, ‘No, bring it to Detroit.’”
Allen said that is “patently untrue” and that he had no way to get to Detroit without his car.
Farrell accused Allen of just wanting to get a new car.
“He went to his insurance company and he reported the car stolen and he knows damn well it wasn’t stolen,” Farrell said.

Once the car was in Detroit, Allen said the price of the deal went up and he was told he would have to pay before he would be told where he could find his car. They told him it was going to cost him $10 for every day that he didn’t send them money.
In early January, Allen was contacted from someone from the trucking company who told him to go to Detroit and pick up his car.
The man, who wouldn’t give Allen his last name, said he was unaware of any contract and he refused to say where in Detroit Allen could find his car, Allen said.
On Jan. 7, Allen called the Michigan Attorney General’s office to file a complaint.
Joy Yearout, a spokeswoman from the Attorney General’s office, said her office received a call from Allen. She said the consumer affairs division usually attempts to informally mediate disputes between consumers and businesses and that’s what happened in this case.
The car transporter company, BPB, responded to Allen’s complaint and the Attorney General’s office has not heard back from Allen on the matter.
“We forwarded that to Mr. Allen and that’s where it stands at this point,” Yearout said.
Allen also contacted his insurance company and tried to file a claim. Allen has been paying an insurance premium on the car for the past eight months. A spokesman at the insurance company said an auto policy does not cover disputes between an owner and a transporter.
A few days after that, the trucking company again contacted Allen and told him again he needed to wire them money or he would not see his car again, Allen said.
He called back the attorney general’s office, and they strongly advised against wiring any money.
By the time he received an invoice, which he said he only received from the attorney general’s office because the transporters apparently sent it to them after the authorities started asking questions, the price to get his car back was up to $1,525, including a $450 storage fee.
Allen says now he doesn’t regret not sending the money in what he characterizes as a bait-and-switch scam, because he doesn’t believe that would have guaranteed that he would have received his car.
“I had so many people cautioning me against doing that,” he said. “I can’t help but think doing so would have been something between a wild goose chase and something unhealthy.”

Farrell, of Tristar, denies his company uses a bait-and-switch scam to lure customers with low prices and then jack up the price once they are in possession of a vehicle.
“I didn’t jack anything up. I didn’t have anything to do with any jacking,” Farrell said. “This is bullshit, in plain English.”
It is not an uncommon allegation against Tristar, however. On an Internet site devoted to rating vehicle transporters, Tristar gets over 40 bad reviews of zero stars. Many people say they were quoted one price and then learned they would have to pay a higher price to get their vehicle back.
There are even more glowing reviews of Tristar on the website from people who say they received excellent, knowledgeable and honest service.
When it was pointed out to Farrell that many of those reviews sounded remarkably similar to one another and that they seemed to appear on the site in clusters on certain days, Farrell denied that he or anyone at Tristar wrote the reviews.
“There was a time when we had a salesperson here, where he was asking them (the customers) to write a review,” Farrell explained.
About those customers who write bad reviews because they thought they got charged too much, Farrell blames the customers for not reading the contracts carefully.
“Do you think we did that ourselves or was there a contract involved?” he said.
Farrell said he is getting fed up with the vehicle transport business because of widespread customer complaints.
“This business became a totally worthless garbage business over the last year,” he said.
Indeed, a look at the reviews of many small brokers of vehicle transporters found that many companies generated complaints similar to the ones lodged against Tristar.

Allen has filed complaints with the Detroit Police Department and the Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Department. He’s talked to lawyers about filing lawsuits. So far, though, he’s no closer to getting things resolved.
He hopes somehow to get compensated for the value of the car. He no longer wants the actual car back.
“These are kind of shady people, if you will, and given what I’ve learned about them, I would not be anxious to take possession of some property that’s been in their possession for a time.”
He also hopes by telling his story, someone else might be more cautious when selecting a company to move a vehicle.
No matter what happens, Allen plans to buy a new car in September.
Allen believes a company like Tristar preys on the dependency the average person has on their car. Most people cannot go eight months without a vehicle. They need to get to work. They need to buy groceries.
Allen is lucky because in Interlochen he can walk to work and he can bike to the grocery store.
His bike, a beat-up 10-speed that he got years ago in grad school and he can leave outside in a parking lot and not worry about, has been his main form of transport. He even uses the bicycle for an occasional trip into Traverse City.
That’s not to say it’s always been easy.
On cold, snowy days, the couple miles between his house and the store can be too much.
“There were days that you would say, ‘You know, today I’m not going to go shopping,’” he said. “Snow tires are one thing, but a 10-speed is another thing in Michigan in February.”
Though he’s discovered getting around on a bike in Northern Michigan is fun and is good exercise, there are some things about having a car he misses.
“I’m dying to go to the Sleeping Bear Dunes,” he said. “And I haven’t gotten there yet.”
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