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 · Leaders Talk Little Traverse
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Leaders Talk Little Traverse

Collaboration, economy, transportation big issues

- May 5th, 2014  

EXPRESS: How are things after an extremely rough winter? This is such a seasonal area; was the weather good or bad for retail and tourism?

KEEDY: This was a pretty unique winter obviously. One thing we’ve noticed in the past 5-6 years is the seasonality has moderated a bit. As an example, at spring break people started to come up here. It used to be people would just leave. So Petoskey has moved in that year-round direction quite a bit. We have a wide array of restaurants and quality has improved incredibly. We see more seasonality at Palette [Bistro] of course, but for the most part our businesses have been following the economic trends.

DE WINDT: At the beginning of the year ski hills were shouting with joy, but then cold did just the opposite. There was a point in December or January when we thought because of the cold maybe they’re [tourists] not skiing but they’ll shop…but they never really did.

VAN DE CAR: There was also snow through out the whole state, so travel was difficult and many just stayed home.

FITZSIMONS: Our business was down at area ski hills, and that’s still our bread and butter. We had some solid cross country skiing and snowmobiling business, but Marty’s right.

EXPRESS: What’s the Petoskey area’s identity? How do things get done here?

KEEDY: I really think there’s a collaborative way of doing business, a regionality. All of our area communities have staked a claim in our future, including Boyne City and Harbor Springs. The collaboration has been very good and I think very unique. We’re not just a little Traverse City; Petoskey is a unique place.

BRUNET-KOCH: Right. People here are more interested in making sure our area is preserved as opposed to knocking someone down. This isn’t something we just talk about today; it’s genuine.

FITZSIMONS: When there’s an issue, like the proposed library across the street, there were two groups that fought like cats very emotionally and thoughtfully, and then you get a great result. Then everybody walks away friends.

VAN DE CAR: Well all of a sudden this isn’t the tourism place it used to be. Being a Native American from here, I understand you’ve got to get along with your neighbors. That’s a big part of being a part of here; everyone realizing having an Indian tribe in your back yard is a good thing. There are some tribes that have an ‘us vs. them’ mentality, but we’re focused on being a good community partner through education, roads, and more.

FITZSIMONS: I took a tourism industry group on a tour of Petoskey once, and I told them you’re going to ‘not notice’ a lot of things here. Like how we paint the backs of stop signs, or the downlighting for the darker night sky, the setbacks from the roadway, buried utilities. There are a lot of little things you might not notice that have been thought through.

BRUNET-KOCH: That’s a good observation.

EXPRESS: Is there any sense of animosity about summer tourists and their impact on the area? There’s some of that in Traverse City.

FITZSIMONS: Well of course we’re the business you love to hate. Everybody realizes that. But I do think it’s different here.

BRUNET-KOCH: Those folks who are here May through September in many ways keep the rest of the people living here year round.

KEEDY: Right. They contribute to the community, they are very involved, they give generously to the college foundation, to Crooked Tree, to the Hospital. I think having animosity toward summer residents is not thoughtful at all….

BRUNET-KOCH: I think we try to be more thoughtful and take lessons from other places like Traverse City so we can plan effectively for our growth and our future.

FITZSIMONS: I lived in Traverse City from 1966 to 1968, and I remember you could not take a left turn out of the Holiday Inn because of traffic. That mentality about crowds and tourism has been there for a long time.

EXPRESS: What’s driving the local economy these days?

KEEDY: Of course there used to be a lot more manufacturing here, and that was a tough transition. We’ve now experienced some of the things larger communities already had. I came here from Atlanta and didn’t realize how much manufacturing really mattered in this area. And in terms of downtown Petoskey, I think overall it’s doing really well.

DE WINDT: What you see is government, healthcare…the private sector as having large impacts on our economy.

BRUNET-KOCH: Talent is the key, whether it’s for manufacturing or for healthcare, or all these little offshoots. Hopefully the college will respond to those needs and cultivate talent. Our new mobile Fab Lab is going from the business world to schools and providing training so that students can graduate with certificates to go right to work. I’ve heard from companies like Precision Edge and Moeller Aerospace; they have positions open that they’re unable to fill.

VAN DE CAR: Like the governor said; it used to be everyone went to a traditional classroom in the morning, and then half would go to vocational school to learn a trade in the afternoon while the other half stayed in class. Manufacturing’s changed; it’s not the big smokestacks anymore. It’s high tech.

BRUNET-KOCH: And, our area is attracting older people, many with health issues. We need a trained workforce to take care of those folks, people getting elder care certificates, something we will begin in the fall.

VAN DE CAR: Good to know!

DE WINDT: Just look at the success story of Coolhouse Labs, the business accelerator in Harbor Springs. It gives focus to that younger generation. That generation is looking for more lifestyle and quality of life. [Founder] Jordan Breighner chose to come back to Harbor Springs. He fits that demographic we want. But we have to find ways to encourage them. They want to be hands-on and empowered. They don’t want to sit around and talk and have meetings. They’re doers. We need to attract more of them back here.

VAN DE CAR: Part of it too is affordable housing. They want to live here but can’t afford it.

EXPRESS: The real estate market is so critically important to the economy here, isn’t it?

BRUNET-KOCH: It is. A strong real estate market helps all of us. Our millage of course is funded by property taxes, and that has been going down and down. Back when Bay Harbor was exploding there were terrific increases in our tax base. This year was flat and we actually did backflips. It looks like a 1.22 drop in taxable values in Emmet County, after 2-3 years of 3-4 percent declines.

FITZSIMONS: Keep in mind that 35 percent of homes in Emmet County are second homes; Charlevoix is 20 something.

EXPRESS: So what’s the single largest issue facing the region right now?

FITZSIMONS: Public transportation. The need is tremendous.

DE WINDT: I’d second that.

VAN DE CAR: It’s always on the minds of the community here.

BRUNET-KOCH: We’re absolutely underserved there. I think there’s a lack of appreciation of all the people who don’t have cars or access to reliable transportation. It’s a large part of our student population, and we need to get them to and from their classes. I’ll tell you, I would ride a bus in a heartbeart if we had one.

FITZSIMONS: In Traverse City you’ve got BATA, which is publicly funded. We have been unable to even get something on the ballot here.

BRUNET-KOCH: I’ll say public transportation is the number one issue, but equal jobs that pay a living wage is a close second. We need additional businesses and industry to come into our community to create jobs.

FITZSIMONS: Also the environment. I think we probably have the most active conservancy in the country, which speaks to philanthropy in the area. For five and six generations, we have been very aware that we want to keep our water and air the way they are.

EXPRESS: What about Harbor Springs specifically?

DE WINDT: Well, the waterfront is going through a major redesign and that’s exciting. The vision is to have the waterfront utilized by more people. But we know one component – the waterfront – isn’t going to make this a new vibrant area. We’re unique…there’s a political nature to our town and changes come slowly. We’re very careful to preserve the charm. We also have a new movie theatre coming downtown, which is great!

EXPRESS: Are you all expecting a big upcoming tourist season?

FITZSIMONS: We sometimes say Mother Nature is our ultimate terrorist. You never know.

BRUNET-KOCH: We sure deserve a long, great summer…

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