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..

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Bad Driver

CRASH leaves victims wondering what happened

Patrick Sullivan - December 5th, 2011  

Jane Bezotte with her children, Quinton Austin, right, and Paige Austin, who were injured in a Sept. 13 crash in Grawn. (Photo by Patrick Sullivan)

The two crashes, one after the other, must have appeared senseless to witnesses. First a guy in a 1993 GMC pickup truck made a turn too fast coming from US 31 onto Sawyer Road and he clipped a vehicle stopped there waiting to make a turn.

The pickup sped off, perhaps trying to get away from the crash he’d just caused. No one was injured.

Then came the really awful one, at the intersection of Sawyer and Vance Road. The driver apparently wanted to get through the intersection without waiting for the other cars and without slowing down.

He ran one car off the road and attempted to overtake another car that was turning right by cutting the corner of the intersection. He drove into a ditch and across a field to avoid the stop sign.

He plowed into the side of the SUV he was apparently trying to pass, however, and he seriously injured two children who were passengers.

What makes the crash baffling is what it wasn’t – the guy wasn’t some irresponsible teenager out for a joyride with some friends and he wasn’t someone so drunk or high he didn’t know what he was doing.

The guy was 49 years old. And he was completely sober.


Now the courts will have to decide whether Larry Lee Robbins, of Grawn, is guilty of reckless driving causing serious injury, or if there is some other explanation for what happened.

Robbins, apparently, plans a defense that he suffered a medical condition that preceded the crash, though there was no indication in the aftermath of the crash that illness affected his ability to drive.

Messages left by the Express for his attorney, Clarence Gomery, were not returned. A woman who answered the phone at Robbin’s house said he had no comment on the advice of his attorney.

Robbins faces up to five years in prison if he is found guilty. The crashes occurred in Blair Township Sept. 13 at around 5 p.m.

Robbins has a clean driving record for the past seven years, which is how long most records are kept, according to the Michigan Secretary of State.

Robbins was originally to face a civil infraction for disobeying a stop sign, said Jane Bezotte, the driver of the Saturn Vue that Robbins plowed into. Police who investigated the crash had requested reckless driving charges.

Bezotte said when she got notice that Robbins would only face a civil infraction, she called the prosecutor’s office and described the severity of the injuries her children suffered. When Bezotte explained, the case was bumped up to Robert Cooney’s desk, an assistant prosecutor who specializes in serious driving cases.

Robbins was charged with the felony counts on Nov. 1 and he faces a preliminary hearing later this month.

Cooney said he didn’t want to comment about an ongoing case.


Bezotte said the crash changed the lives of her children, Quinton Austin, age 11, and Paige Austin, who has turned 16 since the crash.

Paige, who got the worst of it because she was seated in the front passenger seat where the car was impacted, was forced out of two high school classes and is taking speech therapy through Munson Medical Center due to a closed head injury. Paige was able to return to classes after Thanksgiving.

Larry Lee Robbins’ mug shot at the Grand Traverse County Jail.

Quinton, who was in the back seat but was shot with a spray of broken glass, suffered a serious cut to his face that required 40 stitches and will likely require plastic surgery.

“He was going probably about 45 miles per hour when he slammed right into us,” said Bezotte, who didn’t notice Robbins’ truck until impact. “I can remember just, I mostly remember the kids screaming. Honestly, you turn a corner and it was almost like an out-ofbody experience.”

The first thing Bezotte remembers about after the crash is being angry, really angry. She said it was like she had been attacked.

“My first reaction when I got out of the car, I almost was going to run over and attack him,” she said.

Instead she screamed for help. She screamed, “Help my babies! Call 911!” Several people had already called 911.

She couldn’t get her daughter out of the car because the body of the car was now crushed into her, encasing her in place.

Bezotte got out and went to her son in the passenger seat behind her and found him covered in blood. She took him out of the car and placed him on his back on the ground.

It didn’t take long for police and the ambulance to arrive.

Paige had to be extracted from the wreck.


What Bezotte knows about the crash she mostly knows from what she pieced together from what people told her at the scene.

One man told her he got out of the way when he saw Robbins barreling toward him from behind.

“This guy came up to me, he said, ‘I seen him coming and I knew he wasn’t going to stop, so I just got out of the way,’” Bezotte said.

She said she didn’t talk to Robbins, but the police told her he showed no indication he felt bad about what happened.

Bezotte thought the cops were baffled by the scene.

“I really just don’t even understand it to be honest with you,” she said. “It was just like he didn’t have any remorse for what he did. They just were very confused.”

Paige doesn’t remember the crash. In fact, she doesn’t remember from about a week before until several days after. It’s just a blank spot in her memory, Paige said, except for the moment when rescuers came to reassure her as she was being cut out of the vehicle.

Paige is in the 11th grade and she had to drop two classes as a result of the injury, including a career tech course in culinary arts that was very important to her. She had to miss getting her driver’s license at age 16. And her social life is on hold -- by doctor’s orders, she was told to take it easy after school.

Quinton is having to deal with a disfiguring scar.

“He’s trying to be tough and a little boy, but he has his ups and downs,” Bezotte said. “...I’m constantly having nightmares. I’m at the anger stage.”

Bezotte is grateful they all survived and that she was not seriously injured so that she can take care of her children.

“I’m blessed that we’re all alive, you hear about too many people losing family members to auto accidents,” she said.


Robbins refused medical attention at the scene.

And the lead officer at the scene, Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Bares, didn’t think he was drunk or ill.

“I asked Robbins if he had any medical conditions which may have contributed to the crash,” Bares wrote in his police reportt. “Robbins only mumbled something incoherently, all the while shaking his head. At no time during my contact with him did he appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

Robbins took a breathalyzer and scored .00, Bares wrote.

According to the charges: “When asked why he fled the scene of the first crash, defendant shrugged his shoulders. When asked why he went off the roadway to avoid the stop sign at Sawyer and Vance roads, defendant stated that the ‘shifter is a little sticky’ and then stated ‘I really screwed up.’” Another deputy wrote in a followup report that he assumed Robbins was drunk at the scene, but he didn’t explain whether that was due to the circumstances of the crash or because of Robbins’ behavior.

Whether or not Robbins appeared drunk could be a critical factor in his case if he argues that diabetic shock caused his erratic driving and the crash.

People who are intoxicated and people who are in diabetic shock exhibit similar behavior, said Capt. Randy Fewless, who was not at the scene but reviewed the report.

Fewless said in a followup statement made to investigators, Robbins said he had a problematic insulin level and that a medical condition might have caused the crash.

Medical information was redacted from police reports obtained by the Express.

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