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 · The Fireworks over Fireworks
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The Fireworks over Fireworks

Lots of noise, but little trouble thanks to a patchwork of local ordinances

Patrick Sullivan - August 26th, 2013  

A 55-year-old Traverse City man faces up to 90 days in jail on a charge that he set the fuse of a mortar round while under the influence of alcohol and the firework landed on a pontoon boat, scorched the deck, and caused $1,200 in damage.

But the case of James William Goodyear, who was arraigned on the misdemeanor charge Aug. 19 stemming from the July 5 incident, is a rare one.

Most people who light off exploding fireworks either stay within the rules, or close enough that there aren’t consequences.

Goodyear’s is possibly the only fireworks case in Grand Traverse County in almost two summers under a new, more permissive state fireworks law, Prosecutor Bob Cooney said.

“I believe that this is the first time this year, anyway, that I know we’ve charged a misdemeanor fireworks violation,” Cooney said.

Instead, despite a patchwork of local laws that make the discharge of exploding or flying fireworks okay one place but against a local ordinance elsewhere, fireworks have generated noise complaints, but apparently not a lot of other trouble in Northern Michihan.


If for some people it is unclear what is allowed and what is not allowed under current state law, that’s because the legislature left it to local governments like townships, villages and cities to pass more restrictive laws governing when fireworks can be ignited.

On national holidays like Labor Day, Christmas or the Fourth of July, local governments cannot ban fireworks; they can only bar them from being set off late at night. That also goes for the day before and the day after the holiday.

Other days, local governments can ban them.

Cooney said in Grand Traverse County more restrictive ordinances have been passed in Traverse City, Garfield Township, Acme Township, Peninsula Township, East Bay Township, and the village of Fife Lake.

“This is one of those rural versus urban” issues, Cooney said. “I think the more rural townships are less apt to want to pass a fireworks ordinance.”

In a case where someone is intoxicated and lights off fireworks, a person can be charged with misdemeanor violation of the state fireworks law no matter what day it is. Penalties are stiffer if there is property damage, and if a serious injury results, a felony can be charged.

Violations of the local ordinances, on the other hand, are civil infractions, similar to speeding tickets, which only carry fines. Penalties are more serious, however, if a person attempts to thwart an investigation or retaliates against someone who makes a complaint, Cooney said.


In Leelanau County, deputies this summer have taken an educational approach to the new law, Undersheriff Steve Morgan said. Because there is still confusion about where and when exploding fireworks can be ignited, they’ve handed out warnings instead of tickets.

Most of the townships in Leelanau County have passed ordinances that restrict fireworks to national holidays. The more uniform the rules are across the county, the easier the fireworks rules will be to enforce, Morgan said.

On a typical summer weekend, deputies in Leelanau County get around a half dozen fireworks complaints, according to the department’s online summary of complaints.

Some weekends are busier: on Saturday, July 13, for example, there were seven illegal fireworks complaints in the span of just 90 minutes. By the time deputies arrived at those locations, which came from six different townships, the fireworks displays had ceased.

Leelanau County Prosecutor Joseph Hubbell said most townships have passed uniform fireworks ordinances. He said Solon, Kasson and Leelanau townships have not passed ordinances.


In the Grand Traverse County misdemeanor fireworks case, charges were filed after a sheriff’s deputy determined that Goodyear appeared to have been intoxicated when he shot off fireworks, according to a police report.

Deputies were called out to Spider Lake at around 6 p.m. July 5 after a witness said a firework landed on his pontoon boat and scorched his carpet, causing around $1,200 in damages.

The neighbor told deputies that he and his wife were out on their boat at 3 or 4 that afternoon, docked with some other boats near an island, when Goodyear arrived.

The witness said Goodyear wanted to set off mortar fireworks rounds over the objection of others gathered at the island.

The neighbor said “boaters, swimmers, people on the beach objected” because the fireworks were too close to people and their boats, according to the report.

He said Goodyear retorted: “I own the lake and I can do whatever I want,” and then shot two more rounds from his boat, using a foot-long tube with three-inch diameter. He lit the fuses with a propane torch.

The witness said that after his boat was damaged Goodyear told him: “send me the bill, I own the lake,” according to the police report.


The law makes it a crime to set off fireworks while intoxicated.

It’s a 30-day misdemeanor, or a 90-day misdemeanor if the fireworks cause property damage. Cooney said the law does not specifically define intoxication.

Another witness described Goodyear as belligerent and intoxicated as he lit off fireworks, according to the police report.

The woman told police Goodyear insisted upon setting of the fireworks for the sake of the neighborhood children. The woman also said Goodyear drank around eight beers while he was out on his boat, according to the report.

Goodyear denied drinking prior to lighting off the mortar rounds in an interview with a deputy, but the deputy who wrote the report said he “slurred his speech, smelled of intoxicants and had bloodshot, watery eyes.”

He was asked to take a breath test which, according to the report, upset Goodyear. The deputy told Goodyear he would seek a fireworks violation charge against and the suspect “yelled at me and told me to do whatever I wanted to do,” the deputy wrote.

Goodyear did not return a message seeking comment.


Cooney said there have also been a couple of civil infraction tickets issued in Grand Traverse County, but confusion over the new ordinances caused those tickets to be dismissed.

“The reason this seems like a patchwork is because the counties weren’t given the authority to regulate fireworks, it was local municipalities, townships and villages, cities,” he said. “We’ve got East Bay that passed their ordinance, we’ve got another ordinance that was passed in Garfield Township, another ordinance passed in the Village of Fife Lake, and they all may be slightly different. I think they tend to be very similar.”

In Grand Traverse County, as elsewhere, Cooney said his office and the sheriff’s department have agreed to enforce the local ordinances.

“I thought it was important because the law in Michigan, up until 2012, was these fireworks were illegal, and there was a good reason for that. There were concerns about safety, kids getting their hand blown off, fires being started,” he said.

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08.27.2013 at 08:52 Reply

I own a house on a small lake in Kalkaska county. I was appalled on July 4 when I realized that one of my neighbors was launching "sky lanterns" which are paper lanterns with an open flame within. They soar hundreds of feet above the ground, carrying their flame with them -- in this case right over my house which, like all the houses on our lake, is surrounded by pine forest. Talk about poor judgement!