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 Season of Giving
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The Season of Giving

For most of us, disaster happens on a small scale

Robert Downes - November 18th, 2013  

The image of a father cradling the body of his lifeless daughter reminds us that the deepest tragedies are often those which affect us on the smallest and most personal level -- be it close to home or on the far side of the world.

This is the time of year when we give thanks for the blessings in our lives and reflect on the problems of those who are less fortunate, including members of our own family, friends and neighbors.

Thankfulness strikes home when you see the news reports of 10,000 people swept away in the typhoon which hit the Philippines last week.

The largest storm every reported, Typhoon Haiyan swept away entire towns, leaving 670,000 people homeless without food, water or medicine. The scene is “absolute bedlam,” according to the head of the Philippines Red Cross.


But for most of us, disaster happens on a small scale, and close to home.

Consider that more than 15% of children in Michigan live in poverty -- this in the richest country in the world. According to the federal Department of Health & Human Services, poverty in America means getting by on $11,490 per year if you’re a single adult. For a single mom with two kids, it’s living on $19,530.

Consider that a minimum wage job pays only a little more than $15,000 per year (at $7.40 per hour) and you can see that poverty is unavoidable for many in Northern Michigan. In the five-county Grand Traverse area, it’s estimated that some 12,000 people live at or near poverty levels.

Hard times have also increased the homeless among us. Last week on a walk through town, my wife and I saw a man sleeping on the freezing concrete beneath a bridge over the Boardman River, huddled in a tattered sleeping bag. And just a few blocks from where we live, it’s estimated that an average of 44 people seek shelter every night during the winter at the Safe Harbor shelter for the homeless.

No one really knows how many street people there are in Northern Michigan, but Street Advocate, a local homeless advocacy group, reports that last winter the Safe Harbor shelter served 225 homeless persons, providing 7,374 bed nights to those without a place to sleep.


Sometimes, there’s a mean streak dividing the haves and the have-nots. Currently, there’s a bill before the U.S. House of Representatives which would cut food stamps to 3.8 million Americans, while reducing benefits to many others. Fortunately, the U.S. Senate opposes this bill.

But do the Scrooges among us outnumber those who care? Test yourself with the following list of agencies which are reaching out to the less fortunate. Which ones would you support?

Making a holiday contribution to those in need doesn’t have to be painful. It may mean as little as shaving 10% off your giftgiving budget to spread the love to people who may never know who offered a hand, be they on the other side of the world, or right next door.


- Philippine Red Cross offers direct aid (www.redcross.org.ph/)

• Care -- is on the ground providing emergency assistance (care.org/)

• World Food Program USA is delivering food aid to victims (wfpusa.org/)

• Habitat for Humanity has launched a “Re-Build Philippines” campaign and is providing shelter repair kits: (www.give2habitat.org/home)

• Unicef is airlifting tons of emergency supplies: (www.unicef.org/)

• Doctors Without Borders has medical teams working throughout the region: (www.doctorswithoutborders.org/)

There are dozens of agencies in Northern Michigan which reach out to assist everyone from the homeless to the working poor, children, the disabled and in animal welfare. This is by no means a complete list, but here are a few worthy causes for your consideration:


• Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency: serves a 10-county area with Head Start, home assistance, senior nutrition, emergency assistance, food pantries and more. http://www.nmcaa.net

• Big Brothers Big Sisters Northwestern Michigan: supports children in need and provides mentoring for boys and girls: www.bigsupnorth.com

• Safe Harbor of Grand Traverse: this emergency shelter in TC offers a place to sleep and meals for homeless indigents. http://gtsafeharbor.org

• Buckets of Rain: Leelanau County organization is creating sustainable gardening projects in inner-city Detroit, Flint and in poverty-stricken Guatemala. www.bucketsofrain.org

• Char-Em United Way: provides support to 28 agencies and 31 programs in the Petoskey/Charlevoix area: www.charemunitedway.org

• Salvation Army: offers food pantry and charitable services in TC, Petoskey and Cadillac. http://www. salvationarmyusa.org

• Third Level Crisis Intervention Center: programs to help homeless & foster home kids, suicide prevention and legal services are among the many offerings. www.thirdlevel.org

• Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan: the names says it all, assisting with adoption, foster care, pregnancies, behavioral health and other issues. http://www.cfsnwmi.org

• Traverse Health Clinic: serves 1,800 patients in need each month through the largely-volunteer efforts of doctors, nurse and dentists. www. traversehealthclinic.org

• Disability Network of Northern Michigan: helps physically and mentally disabled people find their place in the community, including help with jobs and independent living. http://disabilitynetwork.org

• Father Fred Foundation: perhaps the best-known aid group in Northern Michigan, Father Fred helps the working poor in the 5-county Grand Traverse area with everything from heating bills to food, clothing and rent. www.fatherfred.org

• Womens Resource Center: provides an emergency shelter for women fleeing domestic violence among many other services to women and children. Traverse City: http://www.womensresourcecenter.org -- Petoskey: http://www.wrcnm.org

• United Way of Northwest Michigan: supports the efforts of outreach organizations in the Grand Traverse area. http://www.unitedwaynwmi.org

• Food Rescue of Northwest Michigan: distributed over 1 million meals last year to food pantries and the homeless that might otherwise have gone into a landfill. www.foodrescuenw.org

• Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan: runs the 80-bed Goodwill Inn shelter for the homeless in TC among many other social services. http://www. goodwillnmi.org

• Habitat for Humanity: Grand Traverse: building homes for those in need. www.habitatgtr.org

• Manna Food Project: food bank based in Harbor Springs distributes to pantries in Emmet, Charlevoix and Antrim counties. www.mannafoodproject.org

Help rescue a dog or cat and provide food, shelter and neutering services to the following organizations:

• Petsafe Rescue Alliance Inc.: http://www.petsaferescue.org

• Little Traverse Bay Humane Society: www.ltbhs.com

• AC Paw Antrim County Pet & Animal Watch: www.acpaw.org

• Cherryland Humane Society: www. cherrylandhumane.org

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