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Letters 09-09-13

- September 9th, 2013  

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Booze & fireworks

Northern Express Weekly and reporter Patrick Sullivan have written a scandal sheet story that does not paint a true picture in the fireworks case against James Goodyear (Express, Aug. 26). It seems that they have cherrypicked the official police report leaving out pertinent information and timelines to sensationalize the story.

The larger story regarding the new state law which prohibits launching fireworks if you have been drinking is missed in the article.

It would appear that you must choose your audience more carefully if you intend to provide entertainment via fireworks. When personal vendettas enter the picture and police are called, you can place yourself in serious risk of being prosecuted.

A situation which should have been handled by the two involved has grown into an unnecessary expense for not only Goodyear, but the taxpayers of this county.

It should be noted that by the chief witness in this case stated in the police report that everyone on the island was intoxicated. Therefore, anyone present, including her, should not be a viable witness against the accused.

It also should be noted that the boat that was supposedly damaged to the extent of $1,200 was purchased recently by the owner for $600. At the time of the incident, Goodyear said he would pay for any damage to the carpet. The $1,200 amount is arbitrary and was not estimated by a professional. The carpet is also near its end of its life and the damage was limited to an area about the size of a quarter. Most of the burn marks were under the bimini top and could not have been caused by two 1-1/2 inch mortar rounds. Most likely they were caused by 20-plus years of neglected use. The complainant claims the mortars were 3 inch, which certainly would not be fired from one’s 17-foot boat. In a normal situation, a person would have let it go and accepted Goodyear’s offer to pay for damages.

The time line between when the mortar rounds were fired and the police investigation approached 4 to 5 hours. It is entirely possible that Goodyear could have been drinking after the incident and this likely accounts for the officer’s observations.

Many will testify that Goodyear was not drinking prior to the fireworks launch. Yes, there were heated confrontations at the island that day. The witness and possibly the complainant have had arguments for years and this situation just allowed a way to get even for past conflicts. Yes, people took their dogs home, but after that, the all-clear signal was given to Goodyear by a central figure and an acquaintance of everyone involved, before he ignited the mortars.

The fireworks act MCL 28.462 (3) DOES NOT STATE what the level of intoxication must be established for prosecution. Goodyear was never tested at the time of the incident or at any time and it is hearsay by a possibly intoxicated witness whom is a known prior foe of the accused.

Using the court and especially considering the vague nature of this new law to punish someone over personality conflicts goes against common civility.

The testimony of an intoxicated witness, the weird nature of his attempted arrest, vagueness of the law and the many errors in the recorded documents surrounding this case make this whole claim questionable.

But who is James Goodyear?

He is a 20-plus year employee in his current job and is responsible for the safety and well-being of his crew every day.

A more dedicated and sober employee would be hard to find. Goodyear is also a Coast Guard veteran who offered his life in service to our country. Yes, he may be loud and boisterous at times and say things he probably wished he didn’t, but he is a true friend of many, a loyal American and a hard worker that probably hasn’t missed a week of work in 20 years.

This is truly a case that never should have made the court system as it is founded mainly on personal differences.

What a waste of our tax dollars!

Jack Leishman • TC

Cycling & cell phones

As a past cyclist and a current driver, I see the need for both groups to co-exist on the road for everyone’s safety.

Some of the issues with motorists stem from a road selection by cyclists, choosing a road that has minimal shoulder room to allow safe passage past cyclists.

Yes, cell phones are also an issue... by cyclists!

The other day I passed a large group on a trek to Mackinaw City in the DalMac Tour. As I approached a rider with caution, he kept veering into my lane of traffic, unaware I was behind him. I had to move into the oncoming lane of traffic to get around him... and noticed he was looking at his cell phone (reading a text?) He had no idea of the approaching vehicles behind him.

If everyone is just aware of their surroundings, I assume there would be less issues between each group. As for cycling, I like to ride in the dirt. Now those horses....

Rob DeForge - Gaylord

Ditch all traffic signs

Tear down ALL TRAFFIC signs inside Traverse City. I mean it. Every single one. Every traffic light, every speed limit sign, every stop sign...

Something very like it has been tried in several countries, found to work well. But before we get to “where” it has been tried, and what do you mean it “worked well,” let’s look at the root problem in the shouting match between bicyclists and car drivers.

“You need to obey the law. No, you need to obey the law. No, you...”

What if you were in a town that had absolutely no traffic laws or signposts? How would you behave?

You would react to the conditions in front of you. If you approached a four-corner-junction and saw that absolutely nothing, from any direction, what would you do? Most likely, you would “sail-on” through -- by bike, by car, by roller blade, in a 10-ton tanker trailer..

You broke no law. You judged the conditions, behaved accordingly.

You are now approaching another four corner junction, and tricycles are in the road and so are toddlers and moms with baby carriages. Everything is moving at a snail’s pace and there is much movement in front of you.

You would slow WAY down, almost certainly come to a full stop and proceed cautiously.

You are reacting to conditions.

You are behaving responsibly.

I am not saying that since there are no “clear cut” laws anyone can travel at any speed and claim, “I didn’t break the law...” In court, the “officer of the law” would say you were traveling too fast for conditions -- and so would all of us.

An excellent short summary of the principles of a woonerf appeared in a recent (4/28/13) New York Times article. “Roughly translated as “living streets,” the woonerf (pronounced VONE-erf) functions without traffic lights, stop signs, lane dividers or even sidewalks. Indeed, the whole point is to encourage human interaction; those who use the space are forced to be aware of others around them, make eye contact and engage in person-to-person interactions.... today the woonerf sign is common, with slight variations, across Europe... In the Netherlands more than 6,000... In England and Wales there are more than 70... In the United States, more than 400 cities soon will develop ‘complete streets’ which are more broadly defined than woonerfs.”

Inside cities let the pace be human. Let all others adjust.

Outside of cities? Let the pace be vehicular and let humans beware.

Henry Morgenstein • TC


No bombs for Syria

An open letter to our senators, members of Congress, and President Obama. I urge you to do everything you can to reject bombing of Syria.

We cannot afford it. We are not the world’s policeman. Killing them to “punish” them for killing each other defies logic.

It’s a civil war. Stay out of it. Neither side in the Syrian conflict aligns with U.S. interests. We have virtually no allies in the effort. Britain declined involvement because Parliament would not support it.

We are not under imminent threat. There will be unintended consequences. Iran, Russia, China, Egypt may respond in ways we are not expecting. In defiance, Assad may use chemical weapons again. Violence initiated by the U.S. in the Middle East recruits terrorists against us.

If responsibility lies anywhere to intervene in Syria, it should be with a consensus shared by the international community, not a unilateral move from one branch of the U.S. government.

Instead of bombing Syria let Congress debate whether military action is warranted. File a complaint with the World Criminal Court against Assad and his leaders. Encourage the United Nations to take action, including pressuring Russia and China to denounce use of chemical weapons. Increase the amount of diplomacy we initiate including an international effort to safely eliminate all chemical weapons. Increase humanitarian aid to the victims of Syrian violence. Pray for peace.

Jim Linsell • TC

 
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