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Homestead’s Position Disputed
Thank you to the Express for the recent news item about ten local, state, and national organizations that joined together in a statement calling on The Homestead Resort and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to work together to correct the problem of incompletelytreated wastewater spray blowing into an area of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, rendering it unavailable for public use.
Here is just one clarification: the article notes that the groups are concerned that the incompletely-treated wastewater is a threat to public health, but The Homestead claims that it is “highly-treated and does not threaten health.”
The matter is thoroughly discussed at HomesteadSewage.org, a website that welcomes and contains the views of all concerned, including The Homestead. In short, the Park Service public health expert has recommended that employees wear masks and suits when exposure to the drifting spray is possible. The DEQ has stated that “sewage spray poses a hazard that justifies restricted access.”
In any case, the DEQ rates the substance as unsafe for consumption, as occurs when people breathe it as it blows across public parklands. Hence, the park areas near to the spray areas have had to be posted with warning signs and are unavailable for their intended purpose of public enjoyment.
The Homestead’s sewage system needs to be changed so all of our National Lakeshore can be open for enjoyment by its owners, the public — not just given over to benefit one private company.
Tom Van Zoeren • Maple City
Done With Snyder
Governor Snyder lowered taxes on welloff businesses while raising nearly everyone else’s taxes, undermining both education and the labor movement, which together created Michigan’s strong middle class. His actions also dismantled protections for our priceless Great Lakes shorelines.
Despite these mistakes, I tolerated the governor because he had some good ideas and occasionally vetoed misguided legislation passed by extremist legislators such as our own Ray Franz. However, Snyder has now signed legislation ensuring the funding sources of certain political ads will not have to be disclosed. I call this the “License to Lie” law. People will continue to air dishonest ads, such as those attacking Gary Peters regarding Obamacare, if the funders’ identities can be kept secret. To make matters worse, Snyder had previously promised to increase transparency in elections. Worse yet, his excuse for this flipflop was to simply parrot the lies of radical propagandists who claim that transparency infringes on the 1st Amendment.
Snyder undoubtedly knows that even the current conservative Supreme Court majority has not only upheld the constitutionality of disclosure requirements, but has in fact encouraged them. I have lost all faith in our governor.
Fred Cepela • Traverse City
Gerrymandering is Alive
I have major disagreements with Stephen Tuttle’s column from March 17th. Let’s start with an agreement that conservatives do control the majority of the congressional districts and state legislatures, but let’s also tell the real reason. It has little to do with political message and more to do with who was in control of the redistricting process after the 2010 census. One million more people voted for Democratic congressional candidates than Republicans in the last election, yet the Republicans control Congress. The process known as gerrymandering lives and, because of it, the Republicans were able to fix the game. When good people don’t vote, conservatives win.
Another issue brought up was the demise of the Social Security/Medicare Fund (Medicaid is a different problem). No matter what Mr. Tuttle says, there is a tax change that could help Social Security: remove the cap on income that pays social security taxes without increasing payment levels. You now stop paying social security taxes once you make about $110,000 a year. Let’s increase this tax limit to $1 million, since money paid out in Social Security benefits goes right back into the economy (rather than offshore bank accounts).
It is better for all of us to keep Social Security healthy. The same is true for Medicare, but we could also put a means test on it. Let’s face it, Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly shouldn’t ever need our help paying medical bills, but our neighbors might need that help.
No one suggests taking all the income from the 1 percent, but it would be nice to think they would be willing to help the other 99 percent with maintaining a decent lifestyle.
Don Seman • Bellaire
Benishek No Environmentalist
For Dan Benishek to say he is responsible for preserving a natural wonder (Sleeping Bear Preservation Act) is akin to Al Gore saying he invented the Internet.
Both men were present at the end, but had nothing to do with its formation. Sleeping Bear Preservation Act was begun twelve years go by various Michigan environmental activists and legislators and for Benishek, whose voting record on the environment is abysmal, to claim credit is disingenuous at best.
A look at Benishek’s environmental voting record will show that he voted to:
• Increase mercury in our water
• Allow oil companies to self regulate and self report violations
• Expand oil and gas exploration (fracking) in environmentally sensitive areas
• Offer higher tax incentives to oil and coal companies while refusing to offer incentives to wind, solar, or geothermal industries
• Expand roads and pump stations on federal parkland
• Alleviate industry from being sued for environmental catastrophes
• Allow more fertilizers to be washed into freshwater lakes and rivers
• And allow coal plants to obtain exceptions from air pollution standards
Oh yeah, Benishek took over a quarter of a million dollars in “contributions” from the oil, gas, and coal industries. What a shocker!
Gary Powell, Traverse City
In the March 17 issue, we mistakenly identified the Holiday Inn as “best deck scene” in the Traverse City Best area listings. In fact, their new name is West Bay Beach, a Holiday Inn Resort.