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 Battle for Ice Mountain: A...
. . . .

The Battle for Ice Mountain: A Global Trade War in our Backyard

Eartha Melzer - August 15th, 2002
A bluegrass band plays the theme to the Beverly Hillbillies inside a festival tent adorned with red, white and blue balloons. Hundreds of people wait in line in front of a sumptuous catered buffet. It could be a county fair, a wedding, some public fest, but something is odd about this event. Everyone is a winner at carnival games which are staffed by Cub Scouts imported from two counties away. A glossy poster of the hydrologic cycle hangs over the food at the back of the tent. This is the grand opening of the Ice Mountain water bottling plant in Stanwood, Michigan, and the Nestle corporation is buying everyone lunch.
Two radio-equipped security men sit next to us with plates piled high. They greet friends and neighbors, sometimes sheepishly, as the tent fills.
They say things like... “Last time I was in this field I was baling hay...“ “Yeah, last time I was in this field, I was stepping in sheep patties. And wistfully... “Twenty years ago who would‘ve thought you could make a living selling water?“

“What are you planning to do about the Water Wars?“ one security man asked the other across the red checked table cloth.
“We could get out a tanker and spray them....“
Nestle‘s Ice Mountain PR has not won everyone over.
Outside the plant, demonstrators stand under scorching sun holding signs that spell out WILL... YOU... ACCEPT... CORPORATE... CONTROL... OF... YOUR... WATER?. The activists say that they get supportive honks and encouragement from 75% of those leaving the Ice Mountain event.

With more than a billion people living in water-scarce conditions and a fifth of the world‘s fresh water in the Great Lakes, Michigan is emerging as a hot spot.
World Bank Vice-President Ismail Serageldin has said that the wars of the 21st century will be over water. Vandana Shiva, a prominent Indian physicist and environmentalist, says that global water wars are already happening. In Shiva‘s book “Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution and Profit“ she explains that the water wars are both paradigm wars and traditional wars.
The paradigm wars are between those who see water as sacred and it‘s provision a duty and those who see it as a commodity to be traded by corporations.
Traditonal gunfighting wars have broken out in water scarce regions such as India/Pakistan, Isreal/Palestine and Bolivia.
Water wars pit people against global corporations, and instituations such as the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the governments of the richest nations.

In Michigan a battle is shaping up over whether the people will allow corporations to take and control Great Lakes water.
Lured by abundant water, lax environmental enforcement and tax abatements, and after getting kicked out of Wisconsin, Nestle came to Michigan last year. With 72 brands in 130 countries Nestle is a leader in the bottled water market worldwide.
Nestle is no stranger to controversy. Nestle inspired one of the most famous boycotts of all time when a campaign to discourage breastfeeding and push expensive baby formula caused infant deaths across the Third World. Now Nestle markets Pure Life brand water in Asia where clean water is unavialable.
Desite Nestle‘s poor environmental and social record, Michigan welcomed the company and its plan to pump and sell the equivalent of an 126 acre lake, six feet four inches in depth.
Nestle bought a 99-year water rights lease from Patrick Bowman, a businessman/developer who runs a private deer hunting ranch called The Sanctuary. They bought an $85 well permit from the DEQ, built a 12-mile long pipeline and a $100 million bottling facility, and started business bottling and selling Ice Mountain brand throughout the Midwest.

State Attorney General Jennifer Granholm advised the governor that the project
amounted to a violation of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, a federal law which says all Great Lakes governors must consent to any Great Lakes water diversion. Though Engler has cited this act to prevent other Great lakes area communities from diverting water,
he dismissed Granholm‘s opinion in this case.
Engler‘s own advisor, Dennis Shornack warned the governor that Nestle Waters of America (formerly known as Perrier) “does not enjoy a good environmental record.“ He also warned that citizens might not be happy about the Michigan Economic Development Corporation‘s plan to give $10 million in tax abatements to a corporation that stands to make up to $1.8 million per day off the water they extract from the aquifer in Mecosta County.
Engler, who promised in his 2000 State of the State address, “I will not sell Great Lakes water,“ decided instead to just give the water away. If the tax abatements are taken into account, his administration actually paid for the water to be taken away.

Michigan law says that water should be held in “public trust.“ According to Jim Olson, attorney for the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, the law dictates that water should be used reasonably, that one‘s use should not diminish another‘s use of the water, and the legislature must consent to water diversion.
On these grounds MCWC is suing Nestle Waters of America in Big Rapids Circuit Court. The case is scheduled to be heard in late October.
Although their actions appear illegal under state and federal law, Nestle is moving forward with it‘s operation. Michigan sourced Ice Mountain water is saturating the market, underselling other brands across the Midwest.
Nestle appears to want to establish their operation before the legal issues are worked out. They‘re also playing hard ball. When the Green Party publicly supported a boycott of Ice Mountain water based on evidence that water diversion is damaging local wells and degrading a stream, Nestle lawyers threatened legal action. Lawyers demanded that the Green Party recant their statements.

Across the state a diverse crowd of people are learning about water privatization and organizing to take action. Students, farmers, retirees, sportspeople, environmentalists, children - water drinkers of all stripes have formed the Sweetwater Alliance to “liberate essential resources from corporation control.“
The Sweetwater Alliance has organized demonstrations at the bottling plant, and is coordinating an Ice Mountain boycott. In July Sweetwater carried out 330-mile informational bike tour across western Michigan.
On July 22, Sweetwater Alliance activists put their bodies on the line to stop water extraction. Seven people chained themselves together and blocked the shipping and receiving entrance at the Ice Mountain plant. Fifty others staged a legal picket in support of the blockade. Business at the plant was brought to a halt for seven hours.
“They (Ice Mountain) said we didn‘t have any effect,“ said participant Edmund Frost,“ but when we got up we saw all these semis waiting, so we know, we did have an effect.“
“When we target and explicitly expose the Ice Mountain problem here, it will have a domino effect,“ said Robert Bartle, a Sweetwater Alliance organizer. “People will begin to see privatization as a global

“One of our mantras is ‘remember Cochabomba‘“ said Bartle, “This is an
international struggle we are getting involved with.“
In Cochabamba, Bolivia, the World Bank convinced the government to hand over the municipal water system to the Bechtel corporation and water prices skyrocketed to a fifth of a family‘s average income. Outraged and thirsty, a citizens alliance mobilized and shut down the city for four days while millions of Bolivians held a general strike and issued a
declaration calling for universal water rights. Though the Bolivian government has tried to crush water protests and Bechtel is suing Boliva Cochabamba stands as a lesson that water privatization is not inevitable.


Upcoming Events/Resources

Emily Posner will speak on the stuggle against water privatization in Bolivia at the Traverse Area District Library at 6 p.m. on an upcoming date.

Maude Barlow, author of Blue Gold, will speak in Mount Pleasant on September 12th.

Sweetwater Alliance will have a presence at Friday Night Live events in Traverse City.

for info on the boycott, the lawsuit and other events see www.waterissweet.org
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5