Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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Letters

 
Monday, August 2, 2010

Letters

Letters Shocking vote
Dave Camp recently voted no for the unemployment extension that was
recently passed. Camp is following the party line of not passing the
extension due to our deficit.
I don’t see how a representative from a state with one of the highest
unemployment rates in the country can do this, However he isn’t the
only one not to vote yes from our state. Pete Hoekstra, running for
governor of our state, didn’t even vote. That’s right, he wants to
lead our state but doesn’t even vote on an issue that affects
Michigan’s residents.
I urge all voters, especially the currently unemployed to not vote for
Mr. Camp or
Mr. Hoekstra.

Daniel Bronsink • McBain
 
Monday, July 26, 2010

Letters

Letters Not censorship
Your article entitled “X’ed Out” recalls a controversy that surfaced
several years ago regarding the National Endowment for the Arts and
its attempt to withhold funds from some grant applicants.
Near the crux of both controversies is the definition of censorship.
That word refers to the prohibition of the direct and open expression
of ideas and information. To the best of my knowledge, no new
prohibitions have been installed here, and the films that were denied
public support in Michigan and elsewhere may still be made in those
same places, privately, with alternative funding, and without public
impediment.
Simply witholding support, which is the right of any funding entity,
does not constitute censorship.
The author of the article is welcome to express his disapproval of the
state’s film funding process and its result, but his reference to “the
stink of censorship” is both innacurate and inflammatory. The
applicants who were denied public support were not censored by the
state. It merely refused to offer them financial benefits.

Harvey Gordon • Glen Arbor
 
Monday, July 19, 2010

Letters

Letters Finding sanctuary
This is in respectful response to recent letters from readers offended
by our ad headline using “Seek Asylum” to promote The Village at Grand
Traverse Commons. That headline was not intended to offend anyone, nor
was it intended to be funny. To those offended, we apologize.
Our objective for using the word “asylum” was simply to attract
visitors. It was meant to reference the undeniable history of the
Commons as the former Traverse City State Hospital (originally the
Northern Michigan Asylum), while at the same time invoking the
original meanings of the word, which include “sanctuary, shelter, or
refuge.” Every day, people “seek asylum” from unfavorable
circumstances. We simply repurposed the phrase to convey the positive
sense of asylum, and, contrary to its historical uses, portray The
Village as a place where people want to go to escape our everyday
world.
We respect the history of the TCSH, and acknowledge that any large
state mental institution with decades of operation will bear some sad
stories. While we cannot ease painful memories of an old asylum, we
can choose to celebrate the original noble intent of a historically
enlightened era of care for our fellow human beings. We can recognize
the efforts of hospital employees that were dedicated to truly helping
the patients. We, and the many people who have invested in this
campus, can move forward to preserve historic buildings by giving them
new uses and making them good places to live, work and do business.
That does not change the hospital’s history, especially for those who
prefer to forget it. But we hope the blossoming Village neighborhood
will empower people to see an old asylum in a new way, and maybe one
day reclaim a good word.

Raymond Minervini II
Partner, The Minervini Group LLC
 
Monday, July 12, 2010

Letters

Letters A safe haven
I write in reply to T.L. Watts’ letter finding offensive the heading
“Take Asylum” on the ad for the Grand Traverse Commons.
Given Mr. Watts’ personal circumstances, no one could disagree with
him. I’d like to reassure him, however, that his father’s memory is
well respected in the current spirit and atmosphere on the grounds of
the old State Hospital. I am not associated with The Minervini Group
(TMG), the developers of the Commons, but I have lived in Building 50
for several years now, and in that time I have not heard a disparaging
remark about the building’s former inhabitants and their troubles from
any of the developer’s staff or residents. On occasion members of TMG
have left whatever they were working on to give private tours to
former patients or their families who have come into the office and
expressed interest -- or in some cases -- a therapeutic need, to see
the inside of the building again. Some of those tours have left TMG
staff in tears.
Those who find the concept of living in a former mental hospital
amusing tend to be those who have never visited or are not living
here. Before you ask -- no, I do not sense ghosts or troubled spirits
in or around Building 50; to the contrary, even walking the grounds at
night the atmosphere is peaceful. I like to think that the
renaissance of the State Hospital is expunging the pain.
In fact, this place has proven to be an asylum in the best sense, a
safe haven and shelter. I can only hope that sense of refuge was what
the ad writer was imagining. That is no justification for a choice of
words that offended Mr. Watts and others, but I hope it may serve as
an explanation.

Winnie Simpson • GT Commons
 
Monday, July 5, 2010

Letters

Letters Fighting to spend
Why do we do it over and over again?
Afghanistan and Vietnam can never really be compared. Each long-term
military action was different and presented different problems. The
similarity between these two very different actions lies in the fact
that they are and were being fought not to win but to spend.
If the civilian leadership in Washington turned the American military
loose to go through a country and kick ass until those who were
considered the enemy were devastated and defeated, the action would
not last very long. The problems would lie in the civilian collateral
damage and death toll. We then must try to rebuild the civilization we
just defeated.
As a civilization we cannot by force install our moral value or
economic system around the world. If this statement is true, and
history has proven that it does not work, why do we try it over and
over again? Is it because there is profit to be made, and it will keep
our populace fixated on something other than real problems that exist
today in this country?
Small unit tactics coupled with effective limited air strikes have
been shown to be effective military actions in today’s world. If we
spend the effort and money on reliable intelligence and then without
hesitation act on that intelligence in a totally devastating manner,
soon the need for that kind of reaction would wind down.
The many men and women who will return home forever changed physically
and emotionally by the actions that we are now engaged in need to
stop. These brave young people could be better used at home, here in
this country, helping those in their own towns rebuild this country
and its infrastructure rather then destroying then trying to rebuild
an infrastructure in a world that we can never really change.

Michael H. MacCready • Manton
 
Monday, June 28, 2010

Letters

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

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

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
state.
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

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

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

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

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

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
resorts.
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

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

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
publication.
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

 
 
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