Letters 07-28-14

Worry About Legals

I can’t figure out what perplexes me more, the misinformation everywhere in the media or those who believe it to be true. Take the Hobby Lobby case; as a company that is primarily owned by a religious family, they felt their First Amendment rights were infringed upon by the “Affordable” Care Act...

Stop Labeling and Enjoy

I have been struggling to find a simple way of understanding for myself the concepts of conservative, liberal, and moderation as it relates to our social interactions with each other...

Proposal One & The Public Good

Are you kidding me? Another corporate giveaway with loopholes for large corporations who rule us? Hasn’t our corrupt and worthless governor done enough to raise taxes, provide corporate welfare, unjustly tax pensions, and shut down elected officials with his emergency manager racket...

The Truth About Road Workers

Apparently Mr. Kachadurian did not catch on to the fact that the MDOT Employee Memorial in Clare is a tribute to highway workers who lost their lives building our transportation systems. It was paid for by current and former MDOT employees who likely knew some of these people personally...

Idiotic and Misguided

As a seasonal resident, I always look forward to reading your paper, if only because of the idiotic letters to the editor and off the wall columns...

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Monday, June 28, 2010


Letters Curtains for BP
While I’m opposed to capital punishment for humans, I’m in favor of
capital punishment for businesses.
Companies behaving recklessly without regard for human and
environmental safety, as BP has a history of doing, should lose their
privilege of conducting business in this country. Our government
should confiscate all of BP’s property. Business should have to at
least face a 99,999 strikes and you’re out policy.

Daniel Robbins • Mackinaw City

Monday, June 21, 2010


Letters Use hydropower instead of biomass
To show how hydroelectric power can help meet the State’s 10%
renewable energy requirement for 2015 without biomass, one need only
look at the Renewable Energy Plan for Lansing Board of Water and
Light, which is a publicly owned utility. They purchase or own
hydropower capacity of 11,700 megawatt hours from three dams, which is
identical to the best estimate of about 12,000 megawatt hours for the
three Boardman River dams.
The Moores Park Hydro owned by Lansing, was rehabilitated and brought
back into service in March 2008. Other sources of renewable
energy for Lansing include landfill energy and a small solar array.
I recently performed an analysis of how many trees would be saved if
hydropower from the Boardman River dams were to replace the amount of
wood chips necessary to produce the same amount of electricity. I came
up with about 18,200 tons per year (49.9 tons per day). Using
conversion data from the Friends of the Jordan River, this works out
to about 425 acres per year (think of it as more than ten 40-acre
plots.) This is about two-thirds of a square mile per year. Those
figures are either large or small depending on whose back yard it is.
What bothers me most is that I try to be a responsible citizen and
recycle paper while buying recycled products. With a biomass plant, it
is the same as going outside and chopping down a small tree every time
I turn on the oven, or burning a branch when I need some light. Ben
Franklin would call it being penny wise and pound foolish.
I read that during the Great Depression people needed to revert to
chopping down trees to heat their houses and cook their meals, but
during the great advances of the 20th century who would have guessed
we would now be moving backwards to a 19th century dependency on wood
for energy? Although I am not crazy about coal, I would much rather
deplete our coal reserves than deplete our topsoil that future
generations will need. With modern smokestack scrubber technology,
coal is just another carbon fuel, except that it does not cause ocean
spills nor does it cause money to go to countries that hate us.
One source of frustration at board meetings of Traverse City Light and
Power is when I hear a board member state that an overwhelming
majority of their ratepayers favor renewable energy. Of course they
(we) do! But when we are asked that question, I doubt if most of us
consider biomass as renewable. The original old growth forest in this
area would require hundreds of years to replicate, which will never
happen if we keep cutting it down. And the non-renewable nutrients
removed from the topsoil are forever lost, unlike the normal decay of
dead wood. If biomass were not legally defined as renewable for the
purpose of meeting the state renewable energy law, not a single
utility would want it.

Douglas Burwell • via email
Monday, June 14, 2010


Letters A dam alternative
I am writing to address the problems brought up in “Why the Dam
Hurry?” (5/31). Your article makes the idea of a natural flowing
Boardman River and one that can produce power mutually exclusive,
which is wrong.
I think we can all agree that a natural Boardman would be nice for
recreation and is environmentally sound; we could also agree that
power being produced from moving water is also a good idea.
Damming a river is however arguable; it may create habitat for
pond-dwelling animals, but the positive aspect of damming stops there.
Contrary to popular belief, dams are not always carbon neutral. Dams
installed in wooded areas where the trees are not cut make an
anaerobic environment for this wood to break down, meaning that it is
often turned to methane that seeps out of the water. Methane is a much
worse gas than carbon dioxide in terms of global climate change.
Dammed areas often also fill up with silt which is a nutrient that a
lot of plant life downriver could use. Finally, as covered in your
article, dams make rivers warmer and flow slower then their usual
Luckily for us, dams are not the only way to provide energy from
water. Blue Energy, a Canadian company, makes a device that resembles
a vertical access wind turbine that is placed in water with a current.
These devices could be put in banks of five on the river in places
where current is the strongest and would not disrupt the flow of the
river or stop us from making clean renewable energy. In using small
banks of these devices, people could still get around and the river
could also be used for recreational purposes. I urge your magazine,
the local utilities, and populace of Northern Michigan to look into
this idea instead of carrying on archaic arguments.

Matt Tomlinson  • Grawn
Monday, June 7, 2010


Letters Tea Party dupes
Having just read this week’s responses to Stephen Tuttle’s “An Open Letter
to my Tea Party friends,” I am reminded of something said by John Stuart
Mill. He said that while it wasn’t the case that all conservatives were
stupid people, it was certainly the case that most stupid people were
conservatives. The responses to Mr. Tuttle’s column bear this out.
Tea Party members seem to possess a stupidity that is without limit. Start
with the movement’s two darlings: Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. Together,
they don’t make a half-wit. From those two, it’s an intellectual downhill
slide to the tri-corner hats, Hitler signs and the folks claiming the
government is going to put a chip in their heads.
I am no friend of the Tea Party; they’re not my friends. Unlike Mr.
Tuttle, I don’t have any constructive advice to offer. Their goals are
counter to the founding principles of this country. The members of this
group are being duped by the people behind the scenes in the Tea Party;
the folks who pay for the Express buses, speakers’ fees… If you’re not
wealthy, the people behind the Tea Party are not looking out for your
interests - they’re stooging you to secure more privilege for themselves;
they like the status quo. Hey, no proposed tax increase affects me, I
don’t make $250,000 or more; how many in the Tea Party do?
If you’re making a quarter million dollars or more, you can afford to pay
taxes at the same rate I do. That the wealthy and the large corporations
don’t share an equal tax burden with the middle class, people like me,
amounts to social welfare for them.
Follow the money, you’ll find out what the Tea Party is all about. Who
calls the shots? Who pays the bills? Who puts up the money? It’s not about
patriotism, socialism, Hitler, tax hikes, constitutional principles… It’s
about money: the wealthy don’t want to pay their fair share because they
never have, and the same goes for the large corporations. By agitating
everyday folks, by inducing fear, they get you to do their dirty work, and
all the while, you undermine your own interests.
Talk about stupidity. The Nazis did this when they duped the middle class
in their rise to power; they played on a fear of socialism, trade unions,
and anti-Semitism. The wealthy and large corporations ran Nazi Germany;
they had all of the privileges; this is what the Tea Party aims for; a
nation where the wealthy and big business can do as they please - and we
all serve their interests. It’s the new American Dream, if you’re rich.

  Mike Beveridge • Brethren
Monday, May 31, 2010


Letters With justice for some... Justice? You tell me!
Let’s see if I’ve got this right. Joe Soffredine, an off duty
38-year-old policeman, while under the influence, becomes disorderly
in a downtown TC bar, leaves the bar and attempts to drive home in his
impaired condition. On his way he passes a motorist at a high rate of
speed in a no passing zone. He subsequently crashes his car and his
actions cause the vehicle to catch on fire. Two policemen, ages 25 and
29, called to the scene recognize that it’s Joe Soffredine a senior
officer who is the driver in a one-car accident. Seeing there are no
injuries they give Joe a ride home without performing a sobriety
check. Joe catches a big break. Shouldn’t have, but did.
As a result two junior officers with “impeccable service records” are
summarily fired from their jobs of one and five years respectively.
The Record Eagle lauds the firings - “The law applies to everyone,
even cops” ...“It was a harsh sentence, but no less than what
taxpayers — and justice — demanded.”
And what happened to Joe Soffredine, son of the former Traverse City
Chief of Police and current Traverse City Commissioner who was at the
center of all of this? How about a 4-week unpaid suspension.
Some things never change!

Gordie La Pointe • Williamsburg
Monday, May 24, 2010


Letters What next?
I just heard that Traverse City Light & Power will have to find another
location for the bio-mass plant because the currently proposed site will
interfere with the sight-lines for a new control tower at the Cherry
Capital Airport.
Since it’s apparent that the board of directors of TCL&P have pretty much
decided that a biomass plant is in our future, one has to wonder what
other important facts they’ve failed to properly consider?

Dennis Bean-Larson • Kingsley

Monday, May 17, 2010


Letters The Canadian menace
Thank goodness for Republicans like
gubernatorial hopeful Sheriff Mike Bouchard and State Representative
Kim Meltzer for promoting tougher laws to deal with undocumented
aliens in our fair state.
I’ve worried for years about the influx of hordes of Canadians through
our porous borders. A University of Michigan study recently
calculated that as few as 50,000 Canadians in Michigan could raise the
state average I.Q. by 4.3 points. Canadians’ penchant for civility
would degrade significantly our political confrontations, shedding
light rather than heat.
And can we really condone the bilingualism that is part and parcel of
Canadian culture? Will signs at Lowe’s now be in French as well as in
English? Go get ’em, Mike and Kim! Keep the focus on real issues!

William Heil • Petoskey
Monday, May 10, 2010


Letters Drill, baby, drill... not
Drill, baby, drill has already caused 11 human deaths, will cause
thousands of wildlife deaths, will destroy sea life and food from the sea
and jobs for an incomprehensible time, all because British Petroleum knew
how to drill three miles below the surface of the Gulf, but didn’t know
how to provide proper safety precautions for their hugely profitable dig.
Not our oil; they profited $5.5 billion in the first quarter this year,
and we bought from them just as if they were Saudi Arabia.
West Virginia’s coal company, Performance Coal, was cited over 100 times
so far this year for safety violations that they failed to correct. They
are responsible for the deaths of 29 miners. Coal companies pollute the
environment with their dirty coal that causes health problems that can
lead to additional deaths. Their profits are scarcely scratched by the
fines they paid to “forgive” their safety precaution failures. Without a
viable alternative, industry keeps buying coal companies’ coal.
These two tragedies demand a change in energy policy. Wouldn’t it be
fabulous for Northwest Michigan to lead the way by establishing the
already existing, profitable, clean energy of wind power? A new windmill
already exists near Bellaire, and the one above Traverse City has been
there for years, a tourist spot, not a blot on the landscape. A company
building windmills already exists in Michigan. Think about the jobs!
Local experts have already identified ideal land sites for wind power in
the northwest lower peninsula, and these high spots are often in ski
Beautiful white arms moving in the wind to match the beautiful white
trillium below in the spring and marshmallow snow banks in the winter.
What a pure picture.
Shanty, Boyne, Crystal, Nub’s Nob, and all of our wonderful ski resorts,
would you take the noble lead in this sensible and
attractive alternative ?

Patricia W. Fox • Bellaire
Monday, May 3, 2010


Letters Research defended
We appreciate Stephen Tuttle’s attention to the research services
provided to Traverse City Light & Power (Spectator column, 5/3).
However, his interpretation of the research results led to undue
criticism of our research methodology. Mr. Tuttle states there are
“serious flaws in the way the numbers are weighted.” In fact, results
were not weighted.
Data on each survey variable is clearly presented by customer type,
with residential, commercial and primary results delineated. Our
report outlines survey methodology, explaining that customers were
randomly selected and pulled from separate residential, commercial and
primary customer data bases, allowing for reference to desired
confidence level and margin of error by each customer type. This
methodology and presentation of the data do not result in “the
reduction of residential customers and inflation of commercial and
primary user numbers,” as he claims.
In addition, his assessment of survey content does not recognize that
questions addressing reasons for lack of support for the biomass
initiative were also included. All responses cited (including
sustainability, desire for use of wind, solar or hydro, emissions,
etc.) were recorded and openly presented.
The data shows that 51% of residential respondents and 56% of
commercial respondents expressed some level of support for the biomass
initiative; while 25% and 18% of respondents rated themselves somewhat
or very unsupportive, respectively. All levels of support were
addressed and detailed in our presentation to the Traverse City Light
& Power Board and are included in the final report.
We share Tuttle’s regard for accurate, non-biased survey methods and
uphold this standard when conducting research on behalf of our
clients. We ask that those who review survey findings do so with a
full understanding of the methods used, in order to draw a complete
picture of the results.

Cathlyn Sommerfield, Ph.D
Northwestern Michigan College
Research Services Director
Monday, April 26, 2010


Letters Shhh...
I hear that Martin Sexton and opening act Ryan Montbleau Band are
fantastic to catch live, but sadly I would have to leave town to capture
that experience. Not because they haven’t played in Traverse City, but
because I CAN’T HEAR THEM over the crowd. (Sorry for yelling.)
Apparently, people would rather see the band play than hear them.
Laboring through half of a sold-out show at the City Opera House, we
couldn’t even make out the words being sung over the idle chatter and
other people ‘shush-ing’ the chatterers. It was so frustrating that I
walked out four songs after the main act started. It was awful, and many
people shared this feeling.
I am passionate about live music and I see a lot of concerts, routinely
traveling as far as Cadillac, Ann Arbor, Detroit or Chicago to see them. I
spent every Friday night for three years as a volunteer DJ for WNMC,
playing local music and interviewing the musicians who travel far and wide
to entertain us. I follow the Northern Express every week and years ago I
even conducted a handful of interviews with visiting bands for
Out of all of these great places to see shows, downtown Traverse City is
building a reputation as “Worst Place to See a Concert.”
Area promoters have done a fantastic job of bringing world-class speakers,
comedians and performing artists to town. But in speaking with friends
about how awful last night’s experience was, apparently this rude practice
has become commonplace. Recent crowds have ruined the evening by speaking
over notables such as Ani DiFranco, Diane Rehm and the Comedy Festival
acts. What a waste. And these are not just the “young professionals” at
the more boisterous concerts; even older ladies talking through what is
obviously intended to be a listening event. Poor Tom Brokaw is in for it.
I can see how crowd noise plays into an outdoor festival or a bar band
where the music is heavily amplified, but not for a lone guitarist pouring
out his or her soul under a spot light, drowned out by crowd noise.
Regrettably, I would prefer to stay home, instead of witnessing the
spontaneity of live entertainment in the future.
Please -- keep quiet during the show, respect the artist and the rest of us!

Mike Dudek • via email

Monday, April 19, 2010


Letters Why not wind?
Michigan has a tremendous opportunity to help make our environment and
economy “green.” Both the lower and upper peninsulas are surrounded
by excellent to outstanding off shore and on shore areas to construct
wind farms. The wind turbine industry could create more jobs replacing
those lost in the automotive industry.
From Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Growth electric
generation is responsible for 36% of carbon dioxide pollution, 64% of
sulfur dioxide pollution, 26% of nitrogen oxide pollution, and 34% of
mercury pollution in the U.S.
These pollutants are not only responsible for acid rain making our
lakes and streams more acidic, but contribute significantly to global
warming. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is the principle driver of climate
change and is now one of the world‘s most predictable environmental
trends resulting from emissions that are overwhelming nature’s
capacity to absorb carbon.
It is time to put on the fast track all sources of renewable energy, and
in Michigan that is a network of wind farms. Oil wells go dry, coal
runs out, but Michigan’s wind resources cannot be depleted. Land
requirements to produce energy from wind farms are extremely efficient;
i.e. an acre of land used for a wind farm can produce $300,000 worth of
electricity per year. This same acre used to grow corn to produce
ethanol used with gasoline is worth $960.
Electricity produced by wind farms could eventually replace coal-fired
power plants. charge hybrid cars, and lower pollution levels that would
help stabilize our climate. As in WW II, when Michigan’s automotive
assembly lines produced B- 24 bombers, our idle automotive capacity
could be producing wind turbines. It is time that Michigan got serious,
and put its idle automotive assembly plants and skilled workers back
to work.

Ronald D. Dykstra • Beulah
Monday, April 12, 2010


Letters Ecological rape
I hope everyone read Henry Ramsby’s letter (“The coming biomassacre”
4/5/10). I am in total agreement. As a former naturalist and science
educator I am incredulous as to the “logic” behind this proposed
wood-burning gasification plant. Doesn’t anyone in any position of
power “get it” that stripping northwest Michigan of its trees has the
potential for a horrific snowball effect on the local ecosystem?
Logging will expose unstable dunal-glacial moraine soils beneath the
forest. As these ancient dune soils are exposed to wind and weather,
greater erosion, blowouts and devastation will result. And the
proposed method of logging out an area and replanting will not replace
delicate species of flora and fauna that have taken hundreds of years
to establish (in climax forestland).
And what of the eco-tourism that has long been a mainstay of the
economy of Northern Michigan? Since I was a child roaming the hills
behind my childhood home in Traverse City, to the summer vacations I
now spend up there with family and friends, it has been the forests
and the lakes that are the draw to come home. This proposal is
tantamount to ecological rape.
Adding insult to injury, the power plant promoters are false in saying
that wood ash is “non-toxic.” Early settlers used wood ash to create
lye (as any fourth grader studying history knows) to make soap. Water
+ wood ash = high pH caustic lye. So, just how are they planning to
sequester thousands of tons of wood-ash byproduct from this plant?
Leaked into the water system caustic, high-pH leachate would devastate
area watersheds, altering the pH of ground water and creating a
disaster for aquatic life.
Besides the horrible initial impact to wildlife (loss of habitat and
species, forced migration of species across roadways to seek new
homes...), this will also affect the mental well-being of those living
in and around logged areas (demoralization and depression at seeing
huge swaths of treeless land where forests once stood). And it would
likely decrease already depressed property values as well.
Who wants to live near areas stripped bare of trees and laid waste to? A few
scrawny seedlings doesn’t make up for a
climax forest. I hope the citizens rally to the defense of area
forests and stop this plant. Burn trash if you will, but don’t burn

Rolinda D. LeMay, M.Ed.
Toledo, Ohio (Traverse City native)

(Please note, TCL&P‘s proposed biomass plant would follow sustainable
forest guidelines established by the
DNR, with no plans for clearcutting.
See this issue‘s “BioDebate“ article. -- ed.)

Monday, April 5, 2010


Letters The coming biomassacre
As a certified green builder I feel I am qualified to render an
opinion on the unsettling topic of biomass. It has become obvious,
after reading the well-written article by Anne Stanton (3/8/10), that
Ed Rice of
Traverse City Light & Power (TCLP),
mayor Chris Bzdok, city commissioner Jim Carruthers and all the other
proponents of biomass are either ignorant of or are ignoring specific,
glaring, data.
To skew certain facts and totally ignore others altogether to expound
on and expand their arguments for a biomass plant only proves they are
not qualified to render any definitive opinions at all. Case in point.
1. There is ample proof that a biomass plant is not as carbon neutral
as they would have us believe. And it’s an absurd comparison from
those who assert burning a tree releases the same amount of carbon
dioxide as one that decomposes over 40 years. In that span of time, an
average biomass plant will have burned 4 million tons of wood from 3
million “harvested” wood acres, releasing 8 billion pounds of carbon
dioxide into the atmosphere.
2. There is a reason that trees die and decompose -- this regenerates
our soils, reduces erosion, and feeds the most benign micro-organisms
at the beginning of the food chain amongst others. No one knows what
the long term consequences would be by removing this staple, and to
ignore the potential consequences is extremely shortsighted and
3. The rush to produce corn-based ethanol has proved to be one of the
biggest follies of the 21st century for numerous reasons before one
even considers the government subsidies issue. Don’t any of these
so-called experts see the corollary between biomass plants and the
many ethanol plants that have gone idle or closed down altogether?
4. Has anyone drawn concentric circles in a 75 mile radius around Mancelona,
Traverse City, and potentially Frankfort? Guess what? They overlap. So
how is this going to work when you now have three times the demand for
wood products from the same areas of our region? Logging and select
cutting is very invasive and this will decimate these areas.
5. Consider that TCLP has spent millions on a wind generator that
produces only one per cent of their annual power and has already
required several hundred thousand dollars in maintenance
(incorporating used parts because new ones were cost prohibitive). I
think the true cost of wind electricity is more than 10.5 cents per
kilowatt hour. Is this good fiscal responsibility on TCLP’s part?
There are many sensible alternatives to biomass but it would seem the
$25 million they (TCLP) have in reserve is burning a hole in their
pocket and not being managed wisely at this juncture. Common sense is
just not in their vocabulary.
I am a big proponent for exploring reasonable and more realistic
alternate energy sources, but to rush foolhardily into a technology
whose potential long term detriments haven’t been fully weighed or
explored is madness. And to potentially destroy a resource faster than
it can regenerate is not a good example of sound reasoning or a well
planned venue -- it’s woodland genocide --it’s a biomassacre.

Henry S. Ramsby • TC
Monday, March 29, 2010


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Subject: letters
From: “Colleen Zanotti“
Date: Mon, March 29, 2010 8:42 am
To: lynn@northernexpress.com
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Advice to Dave Camp: Get an imagination

Dear Representative, Dave Camp, I am writing to you in response to
your “NO” vote last night on health care reform.
Rather than have your staffers send me your boilerplate response,
please take a few extra moments to actually consider what I write.
Close your eyes and imagine that you aren’t on the federal dole, and
that you and your family don’t have health care and a pension for
life. Please also imagine that your campaign contributions do not come
primarily from corporations, that you are immune to insurance company
lobbying efforts and, further, that you can vary from your party’s
position without fearing a political backlash.
Now, imagine that you cannot find a job, you’re self-employed or work
for an employer who cannot afford to offer health care.
Unfortunately, your spouse is in the same situation. Imagine you have
children to whom you want to give everything good.
Your reality, however, is that you are barely able to scrape by on
your combined take-home pay. You are both good, honest people who
worked hard, but could never seem to catch a break.
Now, imagine that one of the following occurs:
You have a heart attack, your wife is diagnosed with breast cancer,
and one of your children falls off his bicycle and suffers a severe
concussion. What would it feel like to walk into a hospital knowing
that you have NO WAY to pay for care?
What if you had just canceled your family’s health insurance because
your premium increased by 40%, and you had to decide between that and
being homeless? What if your wife’s cancer was a re-occurrence from
15 years ago, you’re still paying off that debt, and you can’t get
insurance due to the “pre-existing condition”?
Got it? Now, step back in time and imagine that you, this good but
desperate person who does NOT have government-guaranteed health care
for life, is casting the vote you cast last night.
How do you vote?

Robert Chapman • Suttons Bay

Monday, March 22, 2010


Letters Bank rip-off
This letter is to inform and to warn others about what is called
“overdraft protection.” Fortunately, thanks to recent legislation,
banks are now required to ask permission to allow this protection.
Recently I used my bank debit card to purchase small orders at fast
food restaurants. I did not notice that one purchase did not post
immediately, so my 94 cent taco left me with a 5 cent overdraft -
When I looked online at my account I had received a $35 insufficient
funds fee for the five cent overdraft.
Believing this could be corrected I contacted my local branch and was
told that because I had had some fees reversed within the last year
they could not reverse this fee. I decided to contact the main office
in town as well as the corporate office and was given the same
response. The people I talked to were polite, but unsympathetic.
While I have found the employees very nice, I consider the corporate
policy as “greed.” The letter it has sent out requires a decision
regarding future overdraft policy. I urge everyone to DECLINE this
protection unless they have it tied to another account. Otherwise, as
it’s clearly spelled out, it allows the bank to cover your overdraft
BUT charge $35 for each transaction (up to 3 in one day) that is
Don’t let this happen to you! Inquire about this policy and read the
letter carefully. You will be “shocked and awed” at this corporate
greed tactic.

Ken L. Raney • TC