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Benishek’s Real Record
In his upcoming campaign, Congressman Dan Benishek will undoubtedly use his vote for the Sleeping Bear Dunes wilderness legislation as an example of his support for environmental issues. It is worth noting that this bill was developed long before Mr. Benishek was elected. He was not the creator of the bill, only a supporter.
His environmental record is better evaluated by other votes. The League of Conservation Voters gives Benishek only a 4 percent rating on environmental issues during 2013. Of the 28 critical votes that the LCV evaluated, he voted only once to protect our environment. (http:// scorecard.lcv.org) He voted for a budget that drastically cut the budgets of the Energy and Interior departments and the Environmental Protection Agency, reducing those agencies’ ability to protect air, land and water. The same budget provided subsidies to the oil industry and supported the Keystone Pipeline. He voted to continue support for fossil fuels and cut support for renewable energy (HR 2609). He also voted to block the EPA implementation of safeguards to protect the public from coal ash contamination (HR 2218).
It’s apparent that when Benishek has a choice of voting for big business or the health and welfare of people, business wins.
Sara Jill Wellman, Cedar
Listen to the People
Recently the Traverse City planning commission listened to objections to the construction of homes the citizens felt would be out of character for the neighborhood. If only Forest Home Township in Antrim County had such a planning commission!
On May 7, the planning commission tentatively approved the construction of a distillery, tasting room and bar as a “special use permit” for property zoned agricultural. Hmmm, and I thought agriculture meant that you were growing something.
The vote of the commission was unanimous, in spite of the vehement objections of more than 50 citizens at the meeting. Forest Home Township is primarily rural, with only one concentrated housing area, called Cedar Meadows.
About 20 percent of the population lives here, two miles west of downtown Bellaire. Cedar Meadows is within one square mile of the site being prepared for the distillery. The residents became aware of the distillery when the owner began to prepare the site for building, weeks in advance of the zoning review. Hmmm, and I thought a business owner would want approval of a permit before sinking money into site.
Apparently I have a lot to learn, because the hearing seemed to have no bearing on the approval of the permit. The commission did not represent the public interest by requiring that this business would not have a negative impact because of added traffic, inadequate parking, odor, noise, water usage, or waste disposal.
Forest Home Township does not have a municipal water supply, sewage treatment plant, noise or parking ordinance; nor are there any plans to have these things in the near future. The commission made no effort to address these issues. Their approval was based on a few compliance issues so trivial (for example, allowing only one business sign), that it was obvious the planning commission intends to approve the distillery.
My advice is to be active in your local government. When citizens do not pay attention, the special interests of a few can become your worst nightmare. Like a distillery in your back yard.
Carolyn Burke, Bellaire
Of Chefs and Cooking
Kudos to Northern Express and Patrick Sullivan for the story last week about Howard Schedle.
Food preparation and service traditions are worth talking about here in this Traverse City regional “agricultural belt” because they give understanding and provide clues to the future.
I met Howard just after he arrived here in 1974. While we talked about other investments, little did I know that he would open so many restaurants and train so many good people for the business. And having a goal to get mentioned in Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines was certainly another sign of a great entrepreneur.
By coincidence you may have seen the latest culinary trip by Anthony Bourdain to Lyon, France (on the Travel Channel). He discovers and catalogs the great chef, Mmde. La Brazier, who came to dominate French cooking. On the show, you see Mr. Bourdain dining with two of her ex-students, surrounded by several attending chefs, and he is heard to say, “I will never have a better meal in my life, and I am honored to have experienced it now.” Talk about getting excited about food...The Culinary Institute at NMC can only benefit from this kind of excitement!
Why, I get excited about making my Saturday morning eggs, sunny side up, fried in butter, with sweet onions, and topped with parmesan cheese and granulated garlic....mmm!
Dennis Stavros, Traverse City
Stop Plastic Bags
Little is mentioned on the mainstream media about efforts across the nation and around the world to reduce usage of the plastic shopping bag (PSB). Plastic shopping bags are bad from the start. The manufacture of PSBs takes much petroleum and creates toxic waste. Plastic bags photodegrade, becoming more toxic as they contaminate soils and waterways and enter the food chain (CNN/Technology 11/16/07). They also take thousands of years to break down (www.worldwatch.org/node/5565).
Why should we care? According to the Great Lakes Alliance, about 13 percent of garbage picked up along our shores are PSBs. Per the EPA, less than 5 percent of PSBs are recycled. What about the other 95? According to http:// reducing4more.wordpress.com/2008/01/19/ plastic-bags-how-much/, the average U.S. household uses 9 PSBs per week. That’s 468 bags per year. There are 34,362 households in Grand Traverse County according to the last U.S. Census. Do the math; you’ll be shocked.
Where do those millions of unrecycled PSBs go? Landfills, where they’ll leach toxins?
For more information go to the Facebook page “CHEBOYGAN FIRST IN REDUCING PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS.” We invite you and your local communities to take up the cause. The energy of multiple towns joining in the same effort can be a powerful force. We chose this particular cause for two reasons: it’s worth our effort and it is achievable, as proven by about 100 municipalities within 17 states, and about a dozen nations (entire state of Hawaii too).
Which community in Michigan will be first? Which will be last?
Karen Martin, Cheboygan
Raise Minimum Wage
The people of Michigan have overwhelmingly (65 percent) asked for the minimum wage to be raised from its present $7.40 an hour to a decent living wage. At present workers are still below the poverty line even if they work full time. The Governor and legislature in Lansing have refused to raise the minimum wage, so there is a petition drive to get it on the ballot in November.
Let the people decide. This proposal would gradually increase the wage to $10.10 an hour over a three-year period, including tipped earners. Then it would be adjusted annually to the cost of living. The Republicans’ proposal, SB934, is meant to derail this popular petition drive by replacing the existing law by proposing the wage be raised now to $8.15, with no adjustment for cost of living. It would negate our democratic process to amend the previous law and raise the wage to $10.10. We expect our democratic rights and ask for this to be put on the ballot. We ask our representatives in Lansing not to pass another dead end wage bill that will keep workers even more in poverty. Sign our petition and tell your representatives- no-go for SB 934.
Emmy Lou Cholak, Traverse City