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 · Pot Doctor Convicted, But...
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Pot Doctor Convicted, But Avoids Jail

Patrick Sullivan - September 9th, 2013  
Prosecution of Dr. Edward Harwell followed an ugly family lawsuit

A doctor who came out of retirement to run three medical marijuana clinics around Michigan -- including one in Cadillac -- pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges after police and prosecutors said he ran the clinics as forprofit certification mills.

Dr. Edward Harwell, 77, of Reed City, will not go to jail, but has lost his medical license in the state of Michigan.

Harwell’s attorney, Michael Cronkright, had hoped to get the charges dismissed altogether, but he said he was pleased with the resolution.

“Certainly, I don’t think that a doctor who served the community for five decades should be going to jail, so I think it’s a fair outcome,” Cronkright said.

Authorities in the case, which was prosecuted in Wexford County and investigated by the Traverse Narcotics Team, have said their main objective was to strip Harwell of his medical license, which allowed him to certify people for medical marijuana cards.


The respective sides portrayed Harwell as either a kindly doctor who came out of retirement to help people who needed marijuana to treat pain or as a greedy profiteer who saw in Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act a way to make a quick buck.

Trouble for Harwell followed an ugly lawsuit filed by his son and daughter-in-law over his marijuana certification clinics in Cadillac, Lansing and Ann Arbor.

Harwell’s son, Cameron Harwell, a Cadillac attorney, and his wife, Shelly, claim in the lawsuit that they researched the viability of a medical marijuana certification business, that Shelly Harwell spent six months setting up the business, and that Dr. Harwell took control of the clinics when he realized how profitable they were.

The lawsuit also charged that soon after taking over the clinics, Dr. Harwell instituted unsound business practices and failed to properly examine patients before he issued certifications.

“My wife and I set it up and then he came in and basically ran it the way he did,” Cameron Harwell said. “We had nothing to do with it.”

Edward Harwell, through his attorney Cronkright, denied all of the allegations and maintained that his medical practices were sound. In a court filing, Cronkright argued that Shelly Harwell, who was supposed to manage the Cadillac office, failed to perform her job.


The lawsuit, which seeks damages for violation of a partnership agreement, invasion of privacy, and business defamation, among other things, was filed in Wexford County on June 1, 2012.

The lawsuit detailed the claims from Cameron and Shelly Harwell that the older Harwell failed to properly examine patients and that when they confronted him with their concerns about how he ran the clinic, the doctor responded that “it was his ass on the line.”

Soon after, in August, the Michigan Attorney General’s office announced they were filing a civil complaint against Harwell and going after his medical license.

That was followed by a Traverse Narcotics Team investigation, which saw three undercover police officers visit Harwell’s clinic the following February posing as patients who suffered from headaches or neck aches and who lacked medical records.


Harwell was subsequently charged in two cases that contained several felony counts, including conspiracy and intentionally placing misleading information in a medical chart.

Harwell always denied the charges, and through Cronkright, argued that prosecutors never presented medical expert testimony that proved Harwell mishandled his patients’ charts.

At a preliminary hearing in March and April, the conspiracy charges, which were the most serious and carried up to five years in prison, were dismissed by a judge.

But the judge upheld the false medical information felony charges against Harwell and the case moved forward to trial.


Cronkright sought through a motion to have the remaining charges against his client dismissed in circuit court because, he argued, prosecutors never presented medical evidence to support the claim that Harwell put misleading information in medical files.

In trying to get the charges dismissed, Cronkright argued that Harwell never knowingly put false information in a patient’s file.

“While much of the information may in fact be lies told by the officer, there is no suggestion that Dr. Harwell was aware of the misleading nature of the information,” Cronkright wrote.

The undercover officers alleged Harwell only performed perfunctory exams and then added information to their medical charts beyond what they said during the visit.

Wexford County Prosecutor Anthony Badovinac did not return a message seeking comment.

Cronkright’s motion was ultimately rejected by a judge, however. Harwell agreed to a plea deal that ended the case with a conviction, but no jail time or felony conviction.

Harwell pleaded guilty to two counts of recklessly putting information in patients’ medical charts on Aug. 23 and he was ordered to pay fines and costs of $575.

His license to practice medicine was suspended in Michigan as of July 17.


The civil suit was put on hold until the conclusion of the criminal proceedings, and now it will likely carry on. Neither side wanted to comment about what they expect would happen with the lawsuit.

The lawsuit describes a family that got together for a business venture, and then was torn apart by the business.

Harwell’s son said in the lawsuit that his father had been retired for 17 years when he contacted him about a medical marijuana business in April 2010. The elder Harwell agreed, and his son and daughter-in-law spent six months putting the businesses together while Dr. Harwell reestablished his Michigan medical license and moved back to the state from Florida.

The lawsuit said that gross receipts the first day that Dr. Harwell certified medical marijuana patients upon his return to Michigan were over $22,000; that one day in the first week he certified around 100 patients; and that Harwell soon became hostile and began to push his son and daughter-in-law out of the business.

Cameron Harwell claims his father acted out of greed: “He told us to pound sand,” he said in a phone interview.

In the lawsuit, the younger Harwells claimed that after they were forced out, the Cadillac medical marijuana clinic was run by a laid-off steelworker and an exotic dancer.

Cronkright said the lawsuit is frivolous. “In the big picture, the case has very little merit.” Cronkright said.


Cameron Harwell said he hasn’t spoken with his father in three years.

He said he didn’t want to comment about what he thought of how his father’s criminal case was resolved.

Cameron Harwell said he doesn’t believe the lawsuit he filed caused his father to be targeted by the attorney general, police and prosecutors. He said he believes there were numerous complaints to authorities from people who visited the clinics about his father’s practices before the lawsuit was filed.

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