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 · Key to the City
. . . .

Key to the City

Master key to TC parking meters nets thief a jackpot up to $41,000

Patrick Sullivan - January 14th, 2013  

Douglas Charles Hastings has never received a “key to the city” from Traverse City leaders, but he did get his hands on a key that’s arguably much more valuable.

Hastings managed to get a copy of a key that unlocks any of the city’s parking meters, sturdy steel containers that can be laden with change. A single meter can hold up to $300; a double, up to $600.

Between April and July 19, TC officials estimate Hastings cost the city $41,000 in coins, according to police reports.

Hastings, a 63-year-old from Jackson with a long history of relatively minor felony offenses, was sentenced Jan. 9 to one year in jail after accepting a plea deal that knocked the charge against him down from a felony to a misdemeanor.

He was originally charged with breaking and entering of a coin-operated device, a three-year felony, and being a four-time habitual offender. He pleaded guilty Dec. 20 to attempted breaking of a coin op device.

At his sentencing hearing, Judge Thomas Phillips gave Hastings the maximum penalty he could, saying he thought Hastings got a good deal when he was allowed to plead to a misdemeanor.

Phillips said another hearing would have to be held to determine restitution, as an official amount had not been determined.


The case started in May when Traverse City’s parking services manager noticed the haul from the city’s parking meters had been light in spots. He alerted police.

Dave Malewitz told a detective with the Traverse City Police Department that he estimated revenue was down around $698.

This wasn’t the first time Malewitz had talked with a detective about parking meters. Earlier in the year, two city parking meters had been cut off their posts and stolen.

Malewitz alerted detectives to a littleknown fact about stolen parking meters: inside the mechanism is a serial number, and with that number it’s possible to send away to the company that makes the meter. In exchange for a fee, anyone with a serial number can receive a key.

All of TC’s meters have the same lock, Malewitz told police. One key opens all of them.

Malewitz did not return a message seeking comment.


Traverse City Police launched an aggressive investigation. Patrols were on the lookout for suspicious people around parking meters. Undercover detectives spent nights out surveilling the streets.

The city also responded to staunch the bleeding.

Parking services staff had been emptying meters every week or 10 days; now they were emptying them every other day.

Apparently, it was determined to be too expensive to change the locks.

“In speaking with Malewitz, he indicated that there were possible solutions to this issue,” one detective wrote. “However, ... these solutions would require a substantial investment in order to initiate.”

Part of the way into the investigation, police learned about a similar case downstate.

The Birmingham Police Department was investigating a case where someone apparently got a master key by stealing a parking meter, getting a serial number, and sending away for the key.

They learned the name of the downstate suspect: Douglas Hastings.

Meanwhile, the parking meter thieves struck again. Around June 21, approximately a dozen meters on the 300 and 400 block of East Front Street were emptied.


Det. Keith Gillis, the lead detective on the case, and Det. Kevin Gay determined July 19 was one of the nights when the thieves might return and they decided to work an all-night shift.

It turned out they picked the right night. At 4:20 a.m., patrol officers found a 1994 Chevrolet Suburban parked on East State Street with people inside.

Officers checked the occupants and discovered Hastings’ daughter, Kacey Lynn O’Neil, 22, and a passenger whose name was connected to the City of Birmingham parking meter thefts, Terry Dale Craig, 28.

(O’Neil and Craig have not been charged in Grand Traverse County in connection with the parking meter thefts.)

As the officers talked to them about what they were doing, an older man walked up to the car and the officers asked him for ID. It was Hastings.

“I then asked Mr. Hastings where he came from and he stated that he was just walking back from downtown, down the sidewalk,” the officer wrote in a police report.


Gillis and Gay were called to the scene to interview the suspects and search the car.

Amid trash and empty pop cans and a baby seat and baby strollers, police found two bags stuffed with coins, one black bag that contained $286 in change, and one orange bag with around $255.

They also found a stocking cap with a handle and circular frame attached, apparently a homemade change-collecting device. There was also a large quantity of plastic gloves.

And they found two golden keys, each painted green.


Gillis questioned O’Neil and at first she said she didn’t understand what this was all about.

She said they were parked on the street at 4 a.m. because Hastings had said he wanted to go for a walk. They dropped him off on the sidewalk and waited for him in the parked car.

Under further questioning, O’Neil admitted they brought Hastings downtown from their motel to get money from the parking meters, Gillis wrote.

O’Neil said Hastings owed her some money.

“Even though he had money in his pocket to pay her ... he was going to go out and get more money to pay her what he owed her,” Gillis wrote. “Ms. O’neil stated that she does not know why Doug keeps doing this, and dragging her and her boyfriend into this.”

Gillis also interviewed Terry Craig. “When I questioned him in reference to the process, he advised that Mr. Hastings has a key to open the parking meters, stating that he is very protective of that key,” Gillis wrote. “When I described it as the golden key, he kind of snickered in reference to my comment, advising that Mr. Hastings doesn’t let anybody touch his parking meter keys.”

Hastings refused an interview with police.


Hasting’s companions had mentioned a trip earlier that evening to Meijer.

Detectives knew that someone who steals change by the pound might be drawn to the Coinstar machine at Meijer, which turns heaps of change into cash in exchange for a cut.

Detectives checked with Meijer security and learned someone that evening had taken a large amount of change to a Coinstar machine.

The investigators got in-store surveillance footage from the time when the Coinstar machine had been used and Gillis recognized Hastings from a still photo generated from the footage.

Later, detectives learned Hastings’s Coinstar transactions that day were worth $428.

Surveillance showed him leave the parking lot in a blue Ford Mustang convertible.


At his sentencing hearing, Hastings apologized to the court for taking up their time. He has a lot of experience in front of a judge.

Hastings has devoted his life to minor crimes that come with relatively short sentences.

His Michigan Department of Corrections rap sheet begins in 1967, when he was sentenced to two to 10 years for breaking and entering. He was sentenced for larceny in a building in 1968, and three to five years in 1972 for breaking and entering.

There were other cases of larceny, receiving stolen property and conspiracy to transport drugs into prison.

Hastings has recently specialized in stealing change. He was convicted of breaking and entering of a coin-operated device in Emmet County in 2000. Hastings also has three previous convictions for the same crime in Ingham County going back to 2007.

And even as he was wanted on a felony warrant in Traverse City, parking meters were apparently calling his name.

Hastings was arrested Dec. 4 in Ferndale along with Craig and another man, suspected of breaking into parking meters there.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5