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 · Letters · Letters 06-23-2014
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Letters 06-23-2014

- June 23rd, 2014  

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The Cooing of Pigeons

My wife’s elderly cousin had moved into a nice care home to spend his final days. When I went to visit him, there was no television, and I asked him why. “Don’t want one. It stresses me out”. Every time we visited him, his door was open and he was out an about with his walker visiting people instead of watching the tube.

After he was gone, I decided to see what it would be like to go without a television, even for and evening. I went into our bedroom after supper, and just lay down to listen to the sounds going on around me in our house. It was amazing!

My son had spent the afternoon fixing me his special clam chowder, which was a nice gift with tomorrow being father’s day. After supper, my wife cleared the table and I could hear the swish-swish-swish of the dishwasher.

I looked around me on the bed, and there were the three cats and the dog spending time with me. Maybe they were there because I wasn’t trying to change them into something they weren’t. I do that to my wife, from time to time.

She and my son then sat down in the living room and I could hear them talking about nothing in particular. The sound of their voices was familiar and pleasant. It reminded me of the cooing of pigeons. I felt connected to my family in a way that had long ago been lost.

We do ourselves no favors by constantly filling our lives with the white noise of television. Take some time to turn off the tube, and just listen to the love that surrounds you in your home.

William E. Scott, Traverse City

My Peace Corps

I have a different perspective from Frederik Stig-Nielsen on serving in the Peace Corps. I volunteered in Niger, West Africa from 1980- 83 and count it among life’s richest experiences.

People join the Peace Corps for different reasons: to travel, share skills, gain new skills, etc. I joined to continue my education, live in an African village, speak foreign languages, and serve a rural community. I handed out medicine, shared household goods, and treated infant malnutrition. There were lots of ways to serve, once I let go of my preconceptions and learned about my community.

The author questions the Peace Corps’ underlying motives because volunteers are not able to affect change. In my experience, there was plenty of change: in me. I developed cultural understanding and an ability to deal with ambiguity and complexity. Early on, I worked with a young mother that had weaned her baby abruptly, leading to his severe malnutrition; we developed a peanutrich “broth” to ease his transition to hard food. Small acts have an impact.

Not all volunteers have a good experience. Some have ill defined assignments, lack necessary resources or support from supervisors. Sometimes Peace Corps can reassign a volunteer but mostly volunteers are left to fend for themselves—this is an issue that needs to change. The organization is not perfect; but pressure from current and former volunteers has lead to some necessary reforms.

My advice to prospective volunteers: leave your preconceptions on the airplane, get your inoculations, and prepare to be amazed. But prepare to be frustrated.

The organization’s motto is “the toughest job you’ll ever love.” While not true for all, it can be a positive, life changing experience. Many returned volunteers continue to work or volunteer throughout their lives. In my book, that’s value for money.

Ann McPhail, Williamsburg

Applauding Tolerance

I loved the front cover of the May 14 paper. Of course, I am a little partial as the man on the right is my son Andy, with his partner Joel. Your article was eye-opening, chilling, and reassuring... quite a combination considering the content. The lack of tolerance of homosexuality in the 21st Century is appalling, even though we have made great strides in accepting that gays are an integral part of our lives.

Thank you for helping to dispel some of the illusions.

Charlotte Betka, Ludington, MI

Emergency Shelter Fulfilling 2006 Plan

As the Grand Traverse community has been discussing the issues of emergency shelter and homelessness these last few months, a document has surfaced from 2006 that spells out some of the challenges we face. If you wonder how we got to where we are today, all you need to do is read this study. It’s all laid out here, and it is as true today as it was then.

What went wrong? In a nutshell: planning failed. At some point in the last eight years, our leadership, developers, the economy failed to create affordable housing. Now we have a plan for ending homelessness, but nowhere for those on the street to go. This is due (in part) to the lack of housing.

Given the national economy, the banking crisis, and Michigan’s economy, the incentive to build affordable housing hasn’t been there. If you recall, the City of Traverse City has been trying to find a partner to develop the depot property for years, and it is finally underway.

If affordable housing here doesn’t materialize, we better be ready for a swelling of the homeless. Our leaders must make affordable housing as easy for developers to build as possible until the imbalance we are experiencing is leveled out.

This isn’t simply a City of Traverse City issue; it should be a regional concern. Zoning plans need to identify areas for affordable housing development. Funding and leadership to create these new homes must be encouraged.

As the subject of emergency shelter is fiercely discussed at the city (where shelters should be located) Street Advocate hopes that regional leaders will get serious about affordable housing. Our city isn’t the only government that is responsible; the 2006 report discovered this eight years ago.

Peter Starkel, Traverse City (Street Advocate of Grand Traverse)

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