Letters

Letters 11-17-2014

by Dr. Buono in the November 10 Northern Express. While I applaud your enthusiasm embracing a market solution for global climate change and believe that this is a vital piece of the overall approach, it is almost laughable and at least naive to believe that your Representative Mr.

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Letters

 
Monday, March 22, 2010

Letters

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
overdrawn!
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
 
Monday, March 15, 2010

Letters

Letters Say no to biomass
It’s time to move on, the community has spoken: no biomass burning. I call on
Traverse City Light & Power (TCL&P) to honor their commitment to
listen to the people and drop their plans to build one or more biomass
burning plants in Traverse City.
No need to wait until April; let us all get on with the work of
figuring out how to move forward with wood-fired power plants off the
table.
At two forums held by TCL&P, several hundred people could hardly have
been more clear: they don’t want any sort of biomass burning plants in
Traverse City and think the whole concept of stopping global warming
by burning wood ranges anywhere from suspect to tragically wrong.
Frankly, I was stunned.
Despite months of marketing and a dozen presentations where only
pro-biomass presenters were invited, and despite TCL&P’s forums
beginning with a pro-biomass presentation and many frustrated citizens
walking out, about 90% or more of the participants opposed biomass
burning.
I personally feel humbled by the depth of knowledge of our town. This
wasn’t a not-in-my-backyard thing, though no one thinks more
smokestacks and diesel trucks here is a good idea. The very idea that
humanity could solve its energy or environmental problems by burning
trees just didn’t make sense.
A very interesting point was made that a $30-to-$50 million bet on
burning technology when the political landscape changes, the wood
supply can’t support it, or just that it turns out (correctly) to not
be so green after all, is risky business. Many believe that new
technologies are just around the corner.
TCL&P had to admit there is NO working model of wood-fired plant of
the type they are proposing (10 megawatt or larger combined wood and
heat gasification.) Traverse City would be home to experimental
technology that one biomass plant operator told me sounded very
problematic.
The consensus seems go with natural gas (which is a local resource)
for now. Our community could achieve a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions
TODAY by turning to natural gas.
Personally I think everyone on TCL&P has worked hard to do the
right thing, but they were led down a garden path by a
“renewable energy” industry up-selling products, and a government too
willing to throw money at a problem whether or not it really makes
sense or even works.

Jeff Gibbs • TC
 
Monday, March 8, 2010

Letters

Letters Charter accusation false
In your last issue, Jim Tompkins accused me of violating the city
charter in comments I made about the city engineer’s handling of 8th
Street. Violating the charter in the way Mr. Tompkins accuses me of is
a crime, and therefore not an accusation that should be thrown around
casually, or falsely.
The charter prohibits elected officials from directing city staff
(other than the manager) to do something. It also prohibits us from
ordering the city manager to hire or fire someone. I did none of these
things, and
Mr. Tompkins knows that.
What I did was detail how the 8th Street project got designed contrary
to the master plan. I did this after trying to resolve the matter
internally. I’m not proud to have done this, but I believed it was
necessary and now we’re hopefully on a path to improving the project.
Hopefully this will also prevent a repeat of the situation.
I did not give up my 1st Amendment right to speak freely on city
issues when I became mayor, and nothing in the charter requires me to
do so. Quite the contrary.
Finally, Mr. Tompkins repeats a common misconception that the master
plan is optional for the city to follow. The state planning statute
does say the master plan is a guidance document for the zoning
ordinance, which governs private development in the city.
But it also says the master plan is the controlling document when it
comes to capital projects – including streets – that the city builds.
The planning statute requires the location, character, and extent of
city capital projects to conform to the master plan. If we can ignore
the rules on projects the city builds, what right do we have to make
private property owners follow the rules when they build in the city?

Chris Bzdok • TC
(Chris Bzdok is mayor of Traverse City.)
 
Monday, March 1, 2010

Letters

Letters Mayor violated charter
In the 2/15/10 article “Blunt Bzdok,” Traverse City Mayor Chris Bzdok
asked the question “who’s in charge here?” concerning the engineering
plans for reconstruction of Eighth Street from Garfield to Barlow.
The short answer is that the city manager is responsible for the city
administrative staff. The last paragraph in Sec. 37 of the City
Charter, reads in part: “The City Commission and its members shall
deal with the administrative service solely through the City Manager.”
Sec. 48 entitled “City Engineer” reads in part: “and such other duties
as may be required of him by the City Manager.”
In other words, Mr. Bzdok is violating the charter by publicly
criticizing city engineer, Tim Lodge through the local media and also
on his Internet blog. In addition, he has publicly accused Mr. Lodge
of interfering with obtaining a second opinion on the Eighth Street
project. I don’t know upon what he based the accusation, which is a
very serious charge.
In the article the mayor seemed to be saying that the city manager is
too busy to monitor his staff. I would suggest that Mr. Bzdok read the
City Charter to review the limits to his authority and also review the
proper way to deal with city staff through the city manager. He also
needs to understand that a Master Plan is a guide to what is ideal and
cannot realistically always be followed precisely.
Widening Eighth Street has not been envisioned, but Gosling Czubek
indicated bike paths could be included provided if certain sections
were widened.
We need bike paths on Eighth Street - but temper outbursts by the
mayor against the city engineer in violation of the charter is not the
way to get there. Mayor Bzdok owes Mr. Lodge an apology.
Jim Tompkins • TC

(Jim Tompkins is a former city clerk, city commissioner and three-time mayor.)

 
Monday, February 22, 2010

Letters

Letters Our corporate citizens
Karen Martin seems to think that the
Constitution is just kidding when it says that Congress shall make no law
abridging freedom of speech (re: letters 2/8/10). She is appalled that the
U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that corporations be afforded freedom of
political speech. Oddly, she voices no concerns over labor unions’ having
the same freedom.
Both corporations and labor unions are typically wealthy and powerful
organizations comprised of thousands of individual Americans. Both
corporations and labor unions have political lobbyists who promote their
agendas. To restrict the political freedom of speech of one of these
groups and not the other cannot be lawfully justified.

Charles Finley • Beulah
 
Monday, February 15, 2010

Letters

Letters In defense of Avatar
In his January 25, 2010 letter, “Avatar brainwashing,” David Page seems to think that there are no members of the U.S. military who will abandon core values in exchange for dollars and that our government doesn’t steal tax dollars from the middle class to fund military operations that benefit corporate interests and trample on indigenous rights and national sovereignty.
I have just a few examples which point to the contrary.
In August of 1953 the CIA and MI6 executed Operation Ajax, driving the democratically elected leader of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, from office. They did this on behalf of the British Petroleum oil company.
The CIA then financed Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi’s takeover of Iran. Zahedi had been arrested during WWII for attempting to establish a pro-Nazi government in Iran. Iran’s new director of propaganda, Bahram Shahrokh, was a protege of Joseph Goebbels.
Less than a year later the CIA was doing the same thing in Guatemala. They ousted Jacobo Arbenz on behalf of the United Fruit Company.
Okay so this is all ancient history, right? During the recent American invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi seed bank in Abu Ghraib was destroyed (along with hospitals and other non-military targets.) The Coalition Provisional Authority passed Order 81 making it illegal for farmers to re-use patented seeds, thus paving the way for the Monsanto corporation to sue Iraqi farmers.
With the seed bank destroyed and coalition troops handing out Monsanto-patented GMO corn seeds to Iraqi civilians, the U.S. government was assuring windfall profits for Monsanto in a brand new market (Monsanto is a huge contributor to Democrat and Republican election campaigns.)
Other recent examples:
• U.S. military aid to Mexico used to drive indigenous people from their land during the Clinton administration.
• Plan Columbia during the Clinton and Bush II administrations.
• No-bid contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan awarded to companies Dick Cheney used to work for.
Am I bashing the military here? Were the creators of Avatar bashing the military? I don’t think so. After all the hero of Avatar is also an ex-Marine. Do some ex-military personnel become mercenaries for money hungry corporations? Yes they do, just look at Blackwater and Haliburton.
Most members of our military are fine people who have sworn an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Unfortunately our military is too often co-opted by a civilian leadership (right or left) focused on using our military and our tax dollars to expand profits for the richest 1%, strengthen centralized banks and financial institutions, and build an Anglo-American fascist empire.
Avatar struck me as a much needed wake-up call for a populous that needs to rescue their democracy from the influence of the military industrial complex and finally elect a leader who can get lazy corporations off government welfare, bring all our troops home now and put an end to this foreign meddling and resource stealing nonsense.
“If we fix it so’s you can’t make money on war. We’ll all forget what we’re killing folks for.” - Woody Guthrie

Nathan Karnes • via email
 
Monday, February 8, 2010

Letters

Letters Where guns shouldn‘t go
Having read the article in the February 1 issue of Northern Express
titled Christine goes to jail, I must say that I have a hard time
having any sympathy for Ms. Blackledge. While I support her right to
carry a firearm and certainly understand why she does, she made a very
bad mistake. My 5-year-old daughter and my wife fly out of Traverse
City airport on a regular basis to go visit Grandma in another state.
If anyone brings a gun to the airport I want them and the gun removed
immediately!
The decision to carry a firearm is a HUGE responsibility. If Ms.
Blackledge (or anyone for that matter) isn’t responsible enough to
manage that firearm properly then they must suffer the consequences.
While her case may have been handled poorly I suggest that Ms.
Blackledge use that as a learning experience and be more responsible
in the future.

Tom Speers • Fife Lake
 
Monday, February 1, 2010

Letters

Letters Supreme threat
The Supreme Court issued a decision this week that may be the single
most dangerous blow to democracy ever conceived. By granting
individual rights to corporations they have undermined the very
premise our country was founded upon.
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were created to protect
individual rights from being trampled by rich and powerful groups like
the court of King George III. By granting individual rights to
corporations the Supreme Court is creating openings for a new set of
royals to arise.
Incorporation was created to allow individuals to shield themselves
from the dangers of being in business. This allowed business and
industry to grow and prosper in ways it might otherwise not have done.
Corporations diffuse risk among many individuals, making the risks
easier to face for anyone growing a business. Instead of doing
business as a sole proprietor (read that as “individual”), one can
incorporate and gain a certain amount of protection not afforded
individuals in business.
Special rights applying only to corporations come with its
establishment. So, you create a corporation so as not to function as
an individual.
Now the Supreme Court says corporations are individuals. I defy
anyone on the Supreme Court to produce any individual whose rights had
been infringed upon by the ruling that was overturned. Placing
restrictions upon a corporation in no way restricts the rights of the
individuals who exist under the umbrella of incorporation.
By granting individual rights to corporations the Supreme Court has,
in effect, created super persons that have not only individual rights
but a second layer of “corporate individual” rights.
If a corporation breaks the law is it now possible to hold the entire
corporation at fault? Should every share holder be completely
responsible for corporate behavior? If not then how can they have
rights separate from, but equal to, an individual’s own rights? And,
as it has been pointed out by many other people this week, how are we
to know with any certainty who is behind the veil of the corporate
structure? We cannot.
We should all be very afraid for our democracy at this moment in time
and I believe there should be a massive outcry from the people to
remove from office the persons who have visited this plague upon our
house. Impeach them now!

J. Grant • Mesick
 
Monday, January 25, 2010

Letters

Letters Performance & schools
Stephen Tuttle’s opinion piece, “Performance-based Silliness” (Spectator,
1/18) while not exactly wrong, reflects a misconception about including
student test scores as a criterion for evaluating teachers.
Legislation measures the amount of improvement a class shows over the
course of a school year so it is irrelevant whether an individual student
has learning difficulties. If that student scores a 48 one year and a 58
the next, that might be a sufficient increase to justify a bump in salary,
providing the rest of the class improves similarly.
His implied view that social promotion does not help students learn is not
supported by research. Students held back fall further and further
behind.
Also, while, “returning discipline to the teachers” might be helpful in
some situations, even better would be to design a learning experience that
does not require such a heavy hand of discipline: smaller class sizes,
better communication with home, a curriculum that fits the child’s needs,
trained counselors, and special learning environments for those that need
them.
Certainly there are “bad” teachers, though they can be fired for due
cause. If Tuttle is arguing against tenure for teachers, then he should
also specify how otherwise excellent teachers who disagree with
administration can be protected from dismissal or how those at the top of
the salary schedule can avoid being sacrificed to accommodate a less
expensive new hire.
What is glaringly missing from Tuttle’s discussion are questions about the
use of a standardized test to measure what goes on in classrooms. Do test
scores reflect the child’s attitude towards school? Do children want to
learn more even if they get high scores? What about subjects like art and
music -- which are not easily assessed by such tests—are they to be
ignored? Do standardized questions measure adequately traits such as
creativity and problem-solving? And what about the social learning that
goes on in classrooms—how can a test measure that intangible?
It’s a terrible idea to use test scores to bolster salaries of some
teachers, but let’s make an honest argument against it that recognizes all
of the pitfalls without misrepresenting the proposed rules. That way, we
build strong opposition to short-sighted policies propounded by
politicians and others far separated from schools and children.

Richard Fidler • TC
 
Monday, January 18, 2010

Letters

Letters Overwired hipsters
After reading your article, “The Great Beagle Chase,” I was struck with a
much deeper understanding of why so many people in the rest of the world
have come to hate and fear us and why we in fact have come to feel the
same way about each other.
It is not so much that they hate our freedom as much as what we do with
it. It’s true, we face many issues greater than one more over-wired,
self-absorbed urban hipster but, I do not think it was “ironic” that Lima
was found by the one person paying attention and not spending time
‘tweeting’ on their iPhone, updating Facebook and writing a blog.
While it may be that I fall on the side of Mr. Howe in matters of politics
and culture in this very divided country, let me make one thing perfectly
clear - if you have a Facebook page for your dog you are part of the
problem.

James Carpenter • via email
 
Monday, January 11, 2010

Letters

Letters Name cleared
My son and I again want to thank The Northern Express and Anne Stanton for
telling our story (“Branded For Life,” March 23, 2009) detailing our
experience with the juvenile justice system and the Michigan Sex Offender
Registry (SOR). So many positive things have happened since then.
We were successful in finally finding an attorney who understood the
nature of our situation. We only had three years from “Jim’s” release from
state custody to petition the court for removal from the SOR. We filed in
June with only days to spare. The judge saw reason and granted our
petition, but my son still has a felony conviction on his record.
Since then “Jim” has thrived. He has stopped hiding behind his hair. One
of his teachers commented that it was so good to see his face and eyes. He
is getting excellent grades and scored a 92 on his ASVAB. His enthusiasm
about his future is awesome. Last year at this time he was laying around
in his room thinking that his life was over because of a mistake that he
made when he was 10 years old.
It was bad enough that his childhood and innocence were taken away from
him by being exposed to a bunch of sexual deviants in treatment. Finding
out that he had to register quarterly as a sex offender for at least 25
years was unbearable.
More than once I left the jail in tears over the humiliation of having to
drag my child in to register as a sex offender - it was also a horrible
ordeal for my son. Every three months we were reminded of what happened.
Having the police at my door on more than one occasion has also been
embarassing for us. We are so grateful that it is over.
I am still being billed by the court for Jim’s “treatment” and I am paying
what little I can afford. As a single mom with two children there isn’t
any extra money in our budget for the $12,000 plus owed by me to the
court. I hope to address this issue in the future.
Thanks again for telling stories like ours that the mainstream media
ignore. You provide a valuable public service and we are forever grateful.

“Sandy” and “Jim”

(“Branded for Life” involved the case of “Jim,” a 10-year-old boy who
inappropriately touched his 11-year-old cousin on the outside of her
underwear and was branded a sex offender. - ed.)
 
Monday, January 4, 2010

Letters

Letters Don‘t change term limits
I once had a professor tell me that no politician should be elected to office more than once.
His reasoning was if they aren’t smart enough to line their pockets in one term we sure don’t want them around for two terms.
If you give a politician two drinks at the well he will want three and so forth. They will never be happy with the limits we need to put on them.
Our federal government is a prime example of what you get when you give anyone power and no end to its use. I have heard the word trust used in the argument to remove term limits. If you know a politician you trust, please write a letter to the editor and tell us why. Also, tell me why they can’t get the job done in one term. We limit the highest office in our government to two terms.

Norbert Tutlis • TC
 
Monday, December 28, 2009

Letters

Letters Seek Medicare for all
The United States, the wealthiest country on earth, is the only
industrialized nation that has not accepted the moral imperative to
provide health care for all of its citizens.
Because we haven’t, tens of thousands of Americans die each year, our
infant mortality rate is double that of the other industrialized
nations, thousands of uninsured people rely on hospital emergency
departments for care which could be delivered better in an office
setting at lower cost, and overwhelming health care costs are the
leading cause of personal bankruptcy.
We have experience with various plans; private health insurance with
overhead costs exceeding 25%, HMOs and PPOs with designated care
providers, tax-supported government run systems such as military and
veterans clinics and hospitals, and Medicare. Medicare is a
single-payer government insurance plan, not a government run
(socialized) health care system. It relies on a separate private
health care delivery system, allows free choice of physicians and
hospitals, has no restrictions for pre-existing conditions and has
overhead costs of less than 5%.
There is no free lunch and no free health care. We pay twice as much
as other industrialized nations for health care and receive less in
return. But if Medicare was available to all citizens (a single-payer
option), the purchasing power could dramatically decrease drug and
medical provider costs. And if individuals or employers paid their
premiums or taxes (different names; same money) to a system such as
Medicare rather than for private insurance, savings from lower
overhead costs alone would be enormous. We could have high quality
care and add nothing to the national debt.
If you like your present insurance coverage, keep it. But if you want
good care for all of our citizens at lower cost, encourage your
congressmen to insist on a single-payer option.

William R. Olsen M.D. • Northwest Michigan Cares
 
Monday, December 21, 2009

Letters

Letters No lack of concerts
In response to Rick Coates’ article “Where Are All the Concerts?” (12/14).
Here is a list of music performances from international touring
musicians and bands that have performed at InsideOut Gallery in just
the last two of the four years we have been presenting concerts. Many
of these artists have returned two and three times. A very large
number of these acts were booked and performed during the winter
months. Sorry Mr. Coates missed them.
Many of these shows were co-produced by Seamus Shinners of Connemara
Concerts, who has been sponsoring great music in this region for
decades. Seamus produces many great music performances at many
different venues every month. If anyone should be included in a round
table discussion about the concert promoters and venue managers in
this area, it’s him.
You want to truly find out how the live music biz works? Look no
further than Traverse City’s very own Rick Shimmel. You could do a
whole separate magazine on what Rick has accomplished in the live
concert promotion world.
Coates and the Northern Express need to get off the Applebees Music
Circuit and start paying greater attention to the “truly innovative”
music that is being presented in Northern Michigan on a regular basis.
Sorry if it sounds like sour grapes on my part, but good God -- lame
classic rock and the casinos? See you at the next Chubby Checker show!
(Included was a list of more than 60 performers.)

Michael Curths • InsideOut, TC

 
Monday, December 14, 2009

Letters

Letters Riveting Read...
Anne Stanton’s articles on U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak should be reprinted
in the Washington Post and New York Times. Her Stupak interview about
the world of the C Street “Family” (12/7) is riveting.
As a Grand Traverse Democrat, I supported Mr. Stupak for years, but no
more. The Stupak Amendment to the health care bill is a pointed,
political attack on women’s health insurance rights and reproductive
rights. His association with the “Family” (a secret religious group in
Washington DC) – is very surprising news.

Grant W. Parsons • TC
 
 
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