Letters

Letters 09-15-2014

Stop The Games On Campus

Four head coaches – two at U of M and two at MSU – get a total of $13 million of your taxpayer dollars each year. Their staffs get another $11 million...

The Truth About Fatbikes

While we appreciate the fatbike trail coverage, the quote from the article below is exactly what we demonstrated not to be true in most cases last season...

Man Has Environmental Responsibility

I tend to agree with Thomas Kachadurian (“Playing God,” Sept. 8) that we should not interfere with the power of nature by deciding what is “native” and what is not. Man usually does what is better for man (or so we believe), hence the survival and population growth of our species...

The Bush & Obama Facts

Don Turner’s letter to the editor on 8/25/14 stated that there has never been a more corrupt, dishonest, etc. set of politicians in the White House. He states no facts, but here are a few...

Ban Pesticides

I grew up downstate in a neighborhood without pesticides. I was always very healthy. Living here, I have become ill. So I did my research and found out a lot about these poison agents called pesticides (herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, chemical fertilizers, etc) that are being spread throughout this community, accumulating in our air, water and soil...

Respect for Presidents?

Recently we read the Letter to the Editor that encouraged us to stop characterizing President Obama as anything other than an upstanding, moral, inspiring “first Black President”. The author would have us think that the rancor in the press, media and public is misguided. And, believe it or not, this rancor is a “glaring exception to … unwritten patriotic rule” of historically supporting all previous presidents...


Home · Articles · News · Letters

Letters

 
Monday, October 5, 2009

Letters

Letters Letters 10/5/09
A lack of respect
I’m probably the world’s worst lesbian. I don’t own any rainbows. I don’t have a sticker on my car declaring my sexuality. I rarely go to a gay bar. I think by now you get the point I’m trying to make. I’d rather people get to know me, for me, than judge me by the sexuality of the person I am dating.
I’m not an activist of any sort, but maybe that changed the night of August 16th at around 11 p.m. My girlfriend and I had left the benefit concert for musician, Jay Kott, at Union Street Station. We were walking down the street to our car and holding hands. We hadn’t even walked a block from the bar when a gray SUV drove by with its windows down. A young man’s head appeared and he yelled a homophobic slur at my girlfriend and me.
Mind you this is the first time I have ever had this happen to me. I just couldn’t believe it. Did that really just happen? I didn’t even have time to wrap my head around it, when a completely different gray SUV parked at the corner. And this time it was a young woman whose head came out to bombard us with yet another homophobic slur. That’s right people, two homophobic slurs in not even two blocks. They were disgusting things to say and I won’t repeat them here.
I couldn’t even talk. I was so livid. Really? This is 2009. I know that people are inherently different. And I know that we all have different views. I’m not trying to preach to anyone. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. I just want the respect that every human being deserves. I believe in the words of our forefathers. I believe in what our great country was founded upon. That Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are for every human being. I think these rights should apply regardless of your age, ability, sex, ethnicity or sexual orientation. My pursuit may be different than others, but to me that makes every human being so amazingly wonderful. I honestly believe that no one deserves to walk down the street in fear of harassment. And I wouldn’t wish that fear on anyone.

Kiki Karpus • via email

Banks‘ rip-off scam
I read with great interest the article by Dominic Sondy (“An Overdraft Nightmare,“ 9/28). I, too, have had the misfortune of learning exactly how banks operate, and I’m none too pleased.
We have done our banking with the same bank, and its predecessors, for over 30 years. I recently received, via snail-mail, a notice from my bank that my account was overdrawn to the amount of one dollar. By the time I got everything squared away with the bank, overdraft fees and penalties had reached $84 -- for a one dollar overdraft. The bank waited two weeks to notify me.
I later found out that this is normal practice. Banks count very heavily on overdraft and late payment penalties to bolster their bottom line, and they’re vicious about it.
Someone could have, if they really were into “customer service,” picked up a phone and said, “Hey, man, you’re overdrawn by a buck. We’ll cover it, but how ‘bout you drop by today with a dollar bill and set it right?” But they didn’t. They deliberately waited two weeks to notify me so that the charges and penalties could add up.
They also failed to notify me that some businesses charge a handling fee for debit card purchases, and the bank passes that on to you -- but isn’t legally required to tell you that they’re doing so. Likewise, using another bank’s ATM involves a handling charge -- whether or not it says so on the screen. I have been robbed of $84 by my own bank.
The reality is, there is no customer loyalty on the part of banks or credit card companies. You are a money-making asset, and nothing more, no matter how long you’ve been a customer.
Needless to say, I no longer use my checking account. My employer requires me to have one because they only pay by direct deposit, but the money is deposited at 8 a.m., and it’s withdrawn -- all of it -- by noon. I pay bills with cash or money orders. I refuse to be a pawn in this financial con game any longer.

Howard J. Blodgett • TC.
Cops retrieved gun
In our store, we do everything possible to make sure the selling and buying of guns is done according to the laws. These laws were put in place to protect our neighborhoods, our children, and our right to bear arms. But when a handgun was stolen from its case just a few weeks ago, it was all put in jeopardy.
I’m writing this letter now, with great appreciation and, thankfully, the ability to exhale due to the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department’s investigation. Their commitment to the safety of Northern Michigan led to a speedy recovery of the stolen handgun and one less unregistered firearm on our streets. I could not be more grateful for all the time and effort that was put forth in this case and I will sleep well at night knowing that we have good people out there protecting us.

Dan Griffith, Ace Buyers • TC


Kiln dust questions
The Environmental Protection Agency‘s (EPA) report to Congress on cement kiln dust (12/31/94) reveals that the dust contains dioxins and furans, known carcinogens. All 11 of the cement-producing sites like the one in Bay Harbor (the old Penn-Dixie-Holnam plant) contained dioxins and furans.
The EPA’s 12-31-07 Bay Harbor Progress Report stated that in the summer, Petoskey’s Camp Daggett well #5 draws water from under the CKD deposit, diverting it from entering the Lake Michigan shore – not surprising, considering the 1.5 million gallons of irrigation water poured daily onto the whole golf course just above the kiln dust deposits.
Mike Robbins, head of Petoskey’s Water Works confirms that pumping is reduced during the golf course irrigation season for Camp Daggett well #5 and is used as a back-up.
It is also noteworthy that the water capture area shown in EPA’s water well charts of the Bay Harbor project has shrunk from 2006 to 2007. The new EPA report doesn’t show the Preserve well #4 and Camp Daggett #5 well drawing Lake Michigan water in 2007, as it did the prior year. How can this be?
The new EPA report doesn’t show the Townsend well #3 drawing Lake Michigan water. This phenomenon was reported back in 1994 in NTH Consultants hydro-geological study, hired by Bay Harbor Co., reported that the more water they pumped, the softer the water got. Petoskey hydrologist Bob Buechler explained that after 18 hours of pumping, the cone of depression (source of the water being pumped) spreads out until it reaches a recharge barrier which, in this case, is Lake Michigan, whose water is very soft compared with the limestone hard ground water. How can this be?
Lake Michigan water levels rose nine inches in the last year. And CMS is having to capture and truck away more and more water. How much does Lake Michigan have to rise to flood out the leachate collection lines in Bay Harbor?
The cement kiln dust needs to be dug out of Bay Harbor. Paving roads with a 20 percent dust-asphalt mix has been approved by the EPA in other states.

David L. Clink • Petoskey

 
Monday, September 28, 2009

Letters 9/28/09

Letters Letters 9/28/09
“Us“ and “Them“
Michael Moore’s new movie and his recent appearance on Jay Leno have brought a serious fear on my part that he may succumb to the evils of the capitalistic society in which he is forced to live, causing him to fall into the category of “them.” “Them,” according to Mr. Moore on Leno, are the top one percent of wage earners in this country who own all of the wealth and are trying to take more from “us”. In his diatribe on Leno, Mr. Moore included himself in the “us” category, a potential victim of “them.” According to the 2007 census, “them,” (the top one percent of wage earners) are people making more than $410,096 dollars per year. Despite his charitable efforts to the local economy, I am afraid that he may one day crumble, and become one of “them.” I would offer the following solution so that he can continue to be one of “us” poor working slobs who are being raped by “them.” I would suggest that when the net profits of his new movie hit $410,095.99, that he no longer charge admission. This would reinforce his anathema for the process of earning money, allow him to remain one of “us,” and allow us all to continue to hold him at the level of esteem and respect that we currently do.

Dennis Sternburgh • Traverse City

Touched by the Loss
We wanted to thank Northern Express for the wonderful article on the stolen historic gate, and for inspiring so many people to respond to us.
We’ve had a few leads, however, nothing has turned up thus far.
I did want to relay an overwhelming expression of kindness and generosity from an experienced wrought-iron artist, Dan Nickels of Traverse City.
He stopped in the office to personally speak with Ray, and to offer his skills at replicating the gate when we’re ready to do so.
He said he would do this for free. All Ray has to do is supply the materials. As a serendipitous side-bar, his father, Dr. Mervin “Nick” Nichols, was interim Superintendent of the hospital in the ’60s.
As a result of your article, there are incredible people out there who have been genuinely touched by this loss.

Mini Minervini • Traverse City
Top ten reasons to oppose health care reform

10. You feel patriotic knowing that Americans spend more for prescription drugs than the French or Canadians.
9. You have a wealthy uncle who will be glad to cover your medical expenses when you lose your job.
6. You believe the right to life ends at birth.
7. You get a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing that your premiums helped to buy a bigger yacht for the insurance company CEO.
6. You are the insurance company CEO with the new yacht.
5. You would rather have insurance company bureaucrats decide who lives or dies than have the U. S. government guarantee health care to all.
4. You happen to be one of those bureaucrats -- you get bonuses for rescinding coverage from sick people.
3. You can easily afford to buy an organ transplant in Asia if you need one.
2. You plan to reject social security payments and Medicare coverage when you retire because they’re “socialistic.”
1. You’re a Congressman who’s been bought and paid for by insurance companies.

Alice Littlefield • Omena

Serious issue with Mikko Decisions
Regarding the recent charges filed against District Court Referee Dennis Mikko.
I have been in Dennis Mikko’s courtroom more times than I care to mention with custody issues.
He has been consistently dismissive, judgmental, opinionated and frankly arrogant. If I have had my life and the lives of my children decided by a potential pedophile then I have a serious issue with the entire court and friend of the court system in our community. Who could honestly say they feel good about a decision made by this man? He has had a profound affect on my life as well as many of my friends and acquaintances and our children with decisions regarding custody. Are we to presume his judgement has been unclouded by his “affliction”? Can I now have a review of the decisions made by Dennis Mikko or will the court dismiss this as an isolated incident without prejudice toward those effected by his decisions?
Can we as citizens enforce the ethic that we hold our judges and court officials to a higher standard? How about a non-pedophile standard. How low will we go?
I for one will want to meet with all of those who feel as I do and take appropriate action.

Marty Beaudoin • Traverse City

Charged!

Archie Kiel, the Rapid City man who appeared on the Northern Express cover with his lush medicinal marijuana plants in late August, is poised to become a test case for the state’s new marijuana medical law.
Kiel was arrested on September 17 and charged with a felony that could put him behind bars for up to 14 years.
Kiel’s pretrial hearing took place on September 21. He’ll now face arraignment on September 30 at 1 p.m. on charges of manufacture of more than 20 plants and less than 200, said Kalkaska Assistant Prosecutor Kirk Metzger who is handling the case.
The felony charge normally carries a seven-year maximum, but that doubles with a prior drug conviction of any kind. Kiel was previously convicted on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge.
Metzger said he will offer a plea bargain to Kiel’s attorney, Ross Hickman.
State voters approved the marijuana medical law in November, which allows a “caregiver” or supplier to grow up to a maximum of 72 plants if the caregiver is also a patient and has five other patints.
Kiel, a father of three, is well known in Rapid City as a strong advocate for using marijuana as a therapy for cancer tumors and pain. He said he doesn’t take money for his plants, but runs a sort of informal co-op out of his home.
The case will likely come down to the interpretation of the new law and when the plants can be counted as legal medicine—when a patient receives a physical card from the state, which is backlogged on its patient applications, or when a patient can present evidence of a signed physician’s statement that says marijuana will have a therapeutic or palliative benefit for the patient’s serious or debilitating medical condition.




 
Monday, September 21, 2009

Letters 9/21/09

Letters Letters 9/21/09

What health care system?
The term “health care system” bandied about in debates about health care reform in this country refers to something that does not exist. Just what is a system, anyway?
A system is integrated and complete. Your car’s power train is a system. A large corporate entity is a system. The Veteran’s Administration is a system. If we had a national health care system, which we do not, there would be a manager, a governing board, and uniformity of care. Costs of procedures would be uniform whether you are in New York, Los Angeles or Calumet.
I get my medical care through the VA. I can go to any VA clinic anywhere in the country and they have access to my health records. From time to time I can request an update of my medical records and receive it, complete. It’s now about 500 pages. That’s a system.
But if you go to Florida and have a heart attack there or some other medical emergency, your Florida doctor will be hard-pressed to obtain your medical history from your Michigan hospital. By the time they do (if they can at all), you may be dead. No wonder 100,000 die a year in this country from medical mistakes. There is no coordination, no system.
Instead, we have a hodge-podge of programs. Medicare, administered by the states and sometimes administered as an HMO by Blue Cross as a “Medicare advantage” (advantage to whom? Blue Cross?) is uneven. A procedure authorized in Florida may not be permitted in the U.P.
What we do have are for-profit hospital chains, some of them notorious for Medicare fraud, such as unbundling blood panels and charging for each result separately, resulting in multi-million dollar fines. The worst offenders are fee-for-service plans. Others are HMOs that decline service because it is too expensive and cuts into their profits.
We need a single-payer national health program. Your health depends upon it.

Harley Sachs • Houghton

The next generation
How will they remember us, the generation that has so utterly and completely failed them? Will they remember us as trying to right our wrongs? Fighting to level the playing field for their future pursuit of happiness? Or will they remember us as self-involved, fearful sheep who invoked “our children and grandchildren” for political purpose? Will they reminisce about us as a thoughtful, civil generation or will they see us as silver haired bullies trying to get our minutes of fame on Youtube?
We have built for our children a gilded cage. It is made of the finest materials we could not afford. The bars are constructed with I.O.U.s for wars we didn’t need to fight, pork projects we didn’t need to fund, and waste we didn’t care to control. Each bar is reinforced with fees and long term contracts and gilded with 24K greed. The bottom of the cage is lined with useless warranties and fine print. The ceiling is constructed of an impenetrable material made of corporate influence melded with congressional self interest. We have built for them a corporatocracy.
We owe the next generation more than throwing them in the hole we dug and handing them a shovel. It is our obligation to construct the strongest social safety net possible, including healthcare, regulation of banks, energy solutions and campaign finance reform. If we don’t get this right, forget generational theft and call it generational death. They won’t be able to pay off our debts. They won’t be able to repay their own. They will not survive.
I am ashamed of us for our selfishness. Just as we knew our parents as the “Greatest Generation” they will know us as the “I Got Mine Generation.” Newsflash: The fight for the healthcare reform is not about you.

Julie A Racine • Marion

Hugely offended
As a former “fudgie”, but for the last 7 years, a “local”, I found the advertisements for the “Farewell to Fudgies” celebrations over Labor Day weekend to be hugely offensive. But, my own feelings and opinions aren’t nearly as important as those of the people who fall into this “fudgie” category.
This announcement of CELEBRATION, as the foundation of the Traverse City Area economy leaves our area, is a direct insult to the wonderful tourists and seasonal inhabitants who come to this area, stay for a few days to several months, all the while depositing their dollars into our restaurants, resorts, businesses and services.
I just hope that most of these people who support the Traverse City economy in many ways, do NOT have subscriptions to Northern Express for the “off season.” Perhaps they will be spared this obnoxious insult!

Chris Clute, Honor, MI
 
Monday, September 14, 2009

Letters 9/14/09

Letters Letters 9/14/09
Personal experiences
There is another Traverse City woman with my name who occasionally writes letters to the editor. I’d like to clarify my own viewpoint on health care.
Because of my many years of legal work with people who are suffering and sometimes dying in misery due to growing problems with the health care industry, I do favor responsible reform.
Just like you, I am also personally sensitive to these issues along with millions of others. A few examples from my own experience:
• My mother was diagnosed with cancer in the 1980s and was without the benefit of hospice because she was uninsured at the time; this period was perhaps the biggest nightmare of my life. It was a grueling experience caring for her at home without help while raising two young daughters on my own. We managed, of course, because we had to and we shared her passing together with my disabled sister in a peaceful and loving way, but only after a great deal of incredible pain, hardship and financial sacrifice that by comparison to those with insurance would be totally unbelievable;
• My father, 85-years-old, is nicely insured under Medicare (a government program) and insurance supplements he purchased. He receives tremendously generous hospice care when he needs it and continues to enjoy life. His 95-year-old sister receives similar benefits. It’s a very nice situation as they share a family home together and are able to get by with visiting nurses at a great savings to their insurers over institutional care;
• My brother was a college student when he encountered his first significant health problems related to an injury which lingered past the time he was covered under our parent’s insurance. The interruption in the continuity of his care led to much larger health problems that were difficult to overcome; he died in his ‘30s.
I believe Americans have good hearts and souls; we will find our way through the current difficult issues and times ... and we will be better off for having taken the time to work it all out together.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has developed an online tool to help explain the differences between competing pieces of proposed legislation related to health care reform.
The link to this resource is: http://www.kff.org/healthreform/sidebyside.cfm
A link to global statistical health information shows that U.S. citizens are paying more than twice as much for health care: http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/2009/en/index.html
Our future is ours to create as a people. Let’s do it.

Sharon Neumann • TC

Fear & single-payer plan
The reason Obama can not answer satisfactorily the question so aggressively put to him about the high cost of his medical insurance plan is that he abandoned the the plan most certainly guaranteed to save the most money; the single payer health program which greatly lowers administrative costs and is not burdened with making the high profits of the private insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
Not enough attention is paid to the fact that versions of the English and Canadian systems, about which so may scare stories are being circulated, are already operating effectively in this country in the Veterans Administration and Medicare.
The often expressed “fear of the unknown” when it comes to medical reform must apply to all the current confusion in Congress not to the single payer idea, which we already have in this country.
The real scare is in the economics of the private system. A recent Harper’s Index tells us that since 2002 the premiums paid to large U.S. health insurance companies have gone up 85 percent; profits in the top 10 companies went up 438%. and that seven out of 10 Americans bankrupted by medical bills had private health insurance.

R.E. Reinert • Northport

Stop the budget cuts
I urge the Michigan Legislature to stop the cuts and increase revenue.
I am disturbed by the breadth and depth of cuts to essential State services that are being made in response to our financial deficit. Devastating cuts to early childhood education, physical and mental health services to low income citizens, K -12 and higher education, child protection and support programs, environmental protection and more will prove to haunt us for generations to come. Among other effects, these cuts represent an unraveling of Michigan’s investment in early childhood development and education.
No one wants to pay more taxes, but we must strategically increase revenue. Increased taxes on beer and cigarettes would raise significant funds with only a small cost to the users of these non-essential substances. (I’ll admit to enjoying beer, but would be happy to pay a few cents more.) New taxes on soft drinks are also a great idea.
Rep. Gary McDowell and other members of the legislature have identified many tax loopholes which benefit few but cost all of us. Closing these loopholes would go a long way to reducing the revenue gap and restore these essential services.
We must increase revenues and not balance the budget on the back of our most vulnerable neighbors.

Martha Lancaster • Petoskey

A clean energy economy
In the next month, the U.S. Senate will take on the important task of deciding between a cleaner, brighter future for Michigan or the dirty energy policies of the past. I am writing to urge Michigan residents to contact senators Stabenow and Levin to support comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation this year that will create jobs and reduce the harmful pollution that threatens the natural resources of the great lakes, and our tourism and agriculture economies.
Passage of clean energy and climate legislation is one of the most important things we can do to revitalize our economy and help solve the climate crisis. This legislation will drive investment in clean energy technologies by creating good-paying jobs. These are homegrown, Michigan jobs for Michigan workers, jobs that use the skills of today’s labor force and that cannot be outsourced.
We would be wise to reduce our dependence on foreign oil that threatens our national security. By transitioning to a clean energy economy, we can stop sending billions of dollars to unstable, hostile regimes for their oil and start pumping that money back into our own economy. Passing climate legislation will allow us to invest in domestic energy sources, like wind, solar and geothermal -- reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring we leave behind a healthy, prosperous planet for future generations.

Brenda Archambo • Cheboygan

Support single-payer plan
Apparent timidity in both the White House and Congress keeps a single payer health plan off the table. And many legislators receive handsome contributions from the private health industry, the cause of our expensive, under-performing health system.
A simple, single payer system, such as that called for in HR 676 would lead to major cost reductions, full coverage, and longer, more productive lives for Americans. Polls have found that a majority of Americans favor it; don’t be fooled by the current angry voices motivated by fear, lies and some corruption.
It’s time for Washington to develop a straightforward single payer national system.

Lou Ann McKimmy • via email



 
Monday, September 7, 2009

Letters 9/7/09

Letters Letters 9/7/09
Wrong state priorities
I know of a person living in adult foster care here in Northern Michigan who has severe schizophrenia complicated now by problems with diabetes - the latter being a side effect of drugs used in the ‘90s to treat the schizophrenia.
In July, the Medicaid funding to care for his dental, vision and podiatry issues related to the diabetic care were cut by the State to help balance Michigan‘s budget. If the dental or podiatry problems are not cared for properly, these issues could become much larger problems and in the end cause much more expense for the State as well as serious pain and suffering for the individual involved.
I know our State has serious money shortages, but when I read about the case of the man who was recently busted for too many marijuana plants in Rapid City I really lost any understanding of our State’s funding priorities.
Apparently, this bust was preceded by a helicopter fly-over followed by the arrival of several law enforcement officers, and then they only confiscated less than half of the marijuana he was growing.
An operation of that size easily cost thousands of dollars to execute. Then the prosecutor in the case stated he was going to prosecute the case for the plants that were over the number this caregiver under our new law could grow, which will cost several thousand dollars more.
So the State seems to have plenty of money for this form of asinine behavior, but caring for those whose whole adult life has been a psychotic blur -- and don’t have the capacity to fight back -- is not that important. I don’t understand and accept no excuses for this kind of ignorance on the part of our State government. If you can’t do the job in a fair and objective manner get out of the business.

Robert A. Wallick • Cross Village

Fired for med marijuana
Today I was fired for medical marijuana use by my employer. They are a Michigan employer, and I live in Michigan, AND I have a card (approving me for medical marijuana), yet they fired me. They were not bothered by the five opiates I take for pain, and were willing to let me work on Fentanyl, morphine, Dilaudid, etc. However, when they found out I was a medical marijuana card holder, they fired me.
I am now facing not having any income. I am a 50 percent disabled veteran, trying to work to support my family and live with my medical conditions as pain-free as possible. How are patients like me supposed to work and provide for themselves and their families when the laws currently in place do not protect us like they are supposed to?
We need to identify this situation and act on it; patients that are treated with medical cannabis have enough problems, there is no reason we should not be able to work!

Nate Lovely • Buchanan, MI

Questions for TNT
A point of clarification regarding the TNT raid on medical marijuana grower Archie Kiel.
Three additional patients are in the process of certifying Archie Kiel as their caregiver, but it may be weeks before the certification from the State of Michigan arrives in the mail. There is a huge backlog at the Department of Community Health and patients are reporting a wait of 60-65 days between the time that they applied and when they actually receive their medical marijuana card.
In the interim, patients and caregivers are protected under the “affirmative defense” provision of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. So TNT, when are you going to give back his legal plants?
Archie is our local director of Kalkaska County NORML and as long as he is legal, he has the full support of our legal department. We will not have our Michigan NORML members being harassed any more!
What is TNT‘s yearly ratio of pot arrests compared to hard drug arrests (meth, heroin, crack-cocaine)? Could it be that cannabis consumers are their easiest targets because they are the most peaceful people on the planet?
How much did their helicopter and the gas for it cost in taxpayers‘ money? How much did this whole raid cost?
Good citizens of Northern Michigan, remember that your county commissioners and sheriff can pull the funding of TNT and kick them out of your county any time. Kalkaska County citizens, you need a new county prosecutor.
For more info on our new Medical Marijuana Law, go to www.QualifyingPatient.com . To join responsible, adult cannabis consumers who are going to continue reforming Michigan’s outdated marijuana Laws, go to www.minorml.org .

Rev. Steven B. Thompson
Michigan NORML • Benzonia
 
Monday, August 31, 2009

Letters 8/31/09

Letters Letters 8/31/09
Everyone‘s loss
As a physician, I have worked long hours in the emergency room -- seen, felt the calamity. I will never forget one little boy. The nursery school brought him, saying he did not play that day. He was quiet. All tests returned negative. Since the family had no insurance, we sent him home with strict instructions to call or return if a fever or cough developed.
About five hours later he returned, dead on arrival. He had meningococcal meningitis, a very contagious, quick-acting killer. Everyone exposed to him received preventive medication. If he could have stayed the night, he would have received the medication he needed and hopefully would have recovered.
A woman was admitted with a mass in her left breast, larger than a grapefruit. She told us a truck hit her. We all knew better just from seeing it. Her cancer was too advanced. She died within the year. She was young, in her 30s, had three children. Both she and her husband worked, but they had no health insurance.
The case histories could fill a hospital with many untold stories of sorrow, pain, death. How do the uninsured get treatment? They wait until they can’t function anymore, then go to the emergency room. Their cost of care is 40 percent greater than preventative care. They are sicker. The outcome of death is more likely. With these facts, how can we not afford reform?
We pay more now, through our general taxes, for the uninsured person’s care through the emergency room than we would under any reform package offered. It is estimated that 52 million Americans will be uninsured by 2010. The lack of health insurance coverage causes 22,000 deaths each year. We are 45th in the world’s ranking for quality health care. We spend more, get less.
The lack of health care insurance is everyone’s loss. We pay for it through our taxes, loss of jobs, the weakening of our economy.
We pay for it with decreases in our own health care. Hospitals have to lay off nurses due to lack of funds. Our fees for hospital care have risen in an attempt to offset these losses.
We also pay for it in the loss of qualified physicians. The zeal to become a doctor for humanitarian reasons has been lost due to insurance companies’ demands to account for time and fill out forms, rather than account for patients helped and cured.
This is especially true for those practices where individual care and listening go a long way. Many doctors get discouraged or choose to work part time. The passion has been driven from them or has no opportunity to blossom.
Medicine is that trust in the doctor-patient relationship. That relationship hastens recovery, leads to cooperation with treatment, consoles. That relationship is being eroded by our health care system today.
I have provided my patients with the best care possible. But today, with the constraints the present health care system places on all physicians, it seems almost impossible.
It’s time to make things better.

Emmy Lou Cholak, M.D. • TC

Pretend you‘re a sponsor:
I appreciated Marc Ryan’s “Film Fest elitists” letter in the Express. Others share his view. I would, however, like to add a different perspective. Just for fun let’s pretend I’m a TCFF movie sponsor.
As a sponsor I am dismayed at the paltry benefits I receive, while volunteers seem to enjoy near stardom without forking over a dime. I plunk down $1,000 to sponsor a single movie at one of the smaller venues, or much more for a premium venue. What do I get?
I get a few “free” tickets. Free? They end up costing me $250 or more each. I get the honor of paying retail price for additional tickets. I get to show up early for a movie to stand outside in a special line on the pavement allowing some people to jeer at me like I am a third world dictator. I get “reserved” seating, often behind someone over six-feet-tall with big hair. I get my name mentioned at the start of my movie, which elicits polite applause from my friends while everyone else is getting popcorn or using the bathroom. Oh yes, I forgot to mention the hat, the free hat.
Meanwhile, I am surrounded by volunteers wearing cool T-Shirts adorned with neckbands displaying colorful, shiny ID cards, making them feel like VIPs for the entire week. Volunteers get an exclusive free, end-of-festival party with food, drinks, music and promotional items on the lawn of Building 50. Volunteers mingle with people on the streets that treat them like rock stars and thank them constantly. Volunteers get the support of one of the best volunteer management groups on the planet.
As a sponsor I am beginning to think I’m getting a raw deal. I might just switch sides and become one of the haves, a volunteer.

David Halperin • TC

Liner notes
In regard to August 24 letter entitled “Film Fest elitists:”
I, too, have volunteered not only for the Film Festival, but for the State Theatre. Might I suggest that if the writer were paying a bit more attention to instruction of the volunteers he might understand the two line system. It is a have and have not system, like he said; however, not for those with money.... but tickets.
When you are lined up to the right of the theatre it is because you have tickets to that movie. If you were unable to get advance tickets, then you can get in a standby line to the left.
Indeed, there are perks to being a sponsor at the Film Festival, but the many hundreds of us lined up to the right for each and every movie were not all sponsors.... we were merely lucky ticket holders.

Kim Dittmar • Kingsley
 
Monday, August 24, 2009

Letters 8/24/09

Letters Letters 8/24/09
Chance for real reform
If you are opposing health care reform, take a good look at your bedmates -- insurance and pharmaceutical companies and those that benefit directly from their lobbying dollars: members of Congress -- Republicans, and the Blue Dog Democrats.
This is our chance for real reform. This is what the majority of Americans voted for last November. Let’s not let this process get hijacked by a bunch of radicals whose primary motivating factor is a desire to see our president fail.
Our health care system has the best resources in the world. We need to manage them better as a nation while providing care to all our citizens.

David P McClary, MD • TC

Health care ranters
The 2009 health care reform debate has deteriorated into what appears to be culture wars where the politicians and corporate interests on the far right are manipulating those citizens most likely to become victims of our health care debacle into doing their dirty work for them.
The ranters at these town halls are drowning out the voices of the democratic process. They are puppets, apparently unaware that the health insurance puppeteers are spending millions every week on fake Internet campaigns masquerading as grassroots movements, spewing outright lies and whipping their foot soldiers into a frenzy of dangerous anger against Obama’s so-called socialism. They are playing with fire and fanning the flames with racist and anti-government rhetoric reminiscent of Timothy McVeigh and the militias.
Many of the protestors sent to these town halls rely on their (socialist) Social Security and Medicare to survive, oblivious to the inherent conflict with their position on health care reform. Indeed the same people who fire them up with anti-socialist fear-mongering also preach that Obama wants to change or diminish their valued (socialist) benefits.
Many others in these crowds will learn the truth about our health care system the hard way when they lose their insurance after filing a claim for what the industry will call a pre-existing condition or because they switch or lose their jobs or need expensive treatment for a serious illness. And no doubt they will be angry at the government for not protecting them from the heartless insurance bureaucrats.
The truth needs to be told. The proposed health care reforms, unless the wealthy puppeteers get their way, will protect us from having our lives or the lives of our loved ones destroyed by an illness or injury that forces us to file bankruptcy or even die while waiting for a denied insurance claim to be appealed.
There is no proposal to pull the plug on old people, force abortions on women, or any of the other garbage being peddled by the health care lobby.
The desperation of these people is pathetic. But their tactics are truly frightening.

Cindi DeSpelder • TC

Snide sarcasm
In an August 3 letter to the editor, Marsha Minervini expressed the opinion that enforcing parking fines during the Film Festival runs counter to the friendly, welcoming atmosphere that benefits our visitors and local businesses alike. In an August 10 response, Mike McGee wrote a woefully uninformed, unwarranted attack against this gracious lady.
His points about the triviality of a $5 parking fine are not unreasonable, and I’m glad to read them as part of a civil discussion of a community question. The snide sarcasm directed at Marsha, however, is offensive, ill-mannered, and so misguided as to be laughable. Chiding anyone named “Minervini” for missing our beautiful and historical buildings is irony at its finest! The most dramatic architecture in Traverse City is the Grand Traverse Commons -- a restoration of the Traverse City State Hospital and an urban near-miracle brought about, against significant odds, by developer Ray Minervini (Marsha’s husband) and their company, The Minervini Group. As a realtor, Marsha brings residents to those stunning and yet -- by the Minervinis’ socially conscientious design -- affordable condominiums at the Commons.
She should learn to make some sacrifices for the better good, as Mr. McGee wrote? Aside from the sacrifices of hours (and hours and hours) of work, personal stress, and financial risk involved in creating the Commons, Marsha and her husband donate hard-earned dollars to our residents and visitors as sponsors of the TC Film Festival. Marsha has twice been awarded her professional association’s Humanitarian/Community Service Award. At some risk to her own health, she participates in a long-term breast cancer prevention and research trial.
As Mr. McGee wrote, “Consume less” is a common and important theme. Another? “Be nice” -- or at least a little less nasty.

Bonnie Deigh • TC


Parking wars
The subject of parking tickets received while attending the Film Festival seems to be the topic du jour. Let me put in my two cents before next week when the nit-pickers will turn to another subject.
There is a reason why meters are only two hours. I have been living and doing business in Traverse City for 68 years and I appreciate not having to park in the garage just for my five-minute stops to call on my customers downtown. Most of the year as we all know, it is not difficult to find street parking downtown. During our wonderful Film Festival, it is quite challenging.
I have also had the pleasure of traveling to many other locations around the globe and although I cannot prove it, I have a theory that parking citations are not graciously dismissed in other cities to accommodate daytime moviegoers who are inconvenienced by meters that don’t jive with their itinerary.
I hold a dreaded opposing view to public opinion in that I would like to see the fine for parking meter violations increase. Most people think it’s charming that our city charges so little. I on the other hand would rather not have people using the few spaces available as their downtown driveway. Perhaps increasing the fine would serve as a deterrent. I imagine the city would benefit from the added revenue.
So for those downstate developers turned into local heroes, tourists and locals alike who have the luxury of attending afternoon movies followed by a day of leisure, please make arrangements for long-term parking or pay the minuscule fine so the rest of us can go about our workday. Film Festival or not.

Carl Dalzelle • TC

Smell the jet fuel...
Ah, Northern Michigan and the sweet smell of jet fuel in the air, the roar of jet engines from dawn until midnight, the lovely sight of commercial and private jets turning our blue skies a strange color of milky blue gray. I was dismayed and astonished by the editor’s purporting the wonderful benefits of increased air traffic into TC in the article, “Our Magic Bubble,“ (July 13, 2009).
Wait a minute, isn’t TC supposed to be a progressive municipality, a leader in the “green movement,” an “environmentally friendly” city? News flash, it’s not “sustainable” or “green” to fly! (Especially a private plane!) In fact it’s horribly polluting on a whole ‘nother level! (For starts, check out this academic but straightforward article: “Greenhouse Gas Pollution in the Stratosphere Due to Increasing Airplane Traffic, Effects on the Environment“ by Katta G. Murty)
Even though there is a general lack of media coverage about the particularly polluting effects of air travel and a corresponding lack of awareness about it’s insidiousness, the facts are there. Honestly, there is no lack of information or scientific data, only a lack of desire to give up our communal denial about it. If we are sincere about wanting to save our home, the planet, we have to stop pretending that air travel is harmless. Far from it. Check out the facts; shucks, not as much fun as Orbitz or Expedia surfing/fantasizing maybe, but so excitingly in touch with reality!

Gail Semer • TC
 
Monday, August 17, 2009

Letters 8/17/09

Letters Letters 8/17/09

Missed the point
In response to Mike McGee’s comments in the 8/10 - 8/16 edition:
I heartily disagree with your response to Marsha Minervini’s parking comments from the 8/3 - 8/9 edition. I went back and reread her piece and I think you missed the point altogether. Furthermore, the condescending nature of your reply is unhelpful to the discussion, and disrespectful towards one of TC’s most generous champions who politely raised a valid issue.
Marsha was right on the money with the two-hour meter comment. It discourages folks from hanging around downtown after a show because by the time they retrace their steps back to the car to reload the meter (hopefully before it expires), it’s really easy to leave (especially if you’re out of change).
At this point, an open-minded true gentleman would issue Marsha a sincere apology and restore their good standing and dignity.
As for TC, it appears there’s a more zealous attitude towards parking enforcement during the festivals. For example, when visiting in town I often park along Bay Street and have never been ticketed in over 10 years of the habit. However during the festivals, at certain times you can walk down Bay Street and observe a slew of yellow envelopes decorating windshields for the offense of, “parking on the grass” (a $25 fine). I don’t know how the interpretation is made about where grass begins and ends, but it used to be safe to assume that if you parked parallel to the road and was only off far enough to allow traffic to navigate, you’re okay.
It’s been said that first impressions are lasting impressions. However, last impressions are remembered the longest of all. It is a huge turn-off for an otherwise wholly law-abiding visitor to depart Traverse City with a yellow envelope as a parting gift.

David Page • TC

Mean-spirited letter
A recent letter published by Mike McGee seemed a little harsh.
Marsha Minervini’s point was, let’s not give out $5 parking tickets during the Traverse City Film Festival week as a goodwill gesture. It’s not a bad idea. It doesn’t mean, as Mr. McGee suggested, that Marsha has never “attempted the simple exercise known as walking” or drives a “gas guzzler.”
Mr. McGee wrote that he lives in Los Angeles, home of the least pedestrian friendly city I can imagine. I’m assuming he doesn’t know Marsha and her husband, Ray. They are in a class by themselves, having committed their lives toward renovating the former Traverse City State Hospital into what’s now known as the Village of Grand Traverse Commons. Through their efforts, a multitude of buildings that were destined for the bulldozer have been renovated. Their development was built around the concept of a “walkable community.” They are also sponsors of the Film Festival, and sponsors make the Film Festival possible.
I’d suggest a little research before making errant assumptions about someone.


Anne Stanton • TC
Hand surgery led to a
lesson in health care
I had the unfortunate experience of accidentally cutting two of my fingers on my left hand while using a table saw. To say the least, for me it was by far the most traumatic experience I have ever had.
I would like to publicly thank Dr. Paul Jacobson of Hand Surgeon Northern Michigan and the Emergency Room staff at Munson Medical Center for their incredible care, expertise, and positive attitude that I received.
Dr. Jacobson was able to repair the damage that I had caused to my fingers, which I considered to be a lot. Dr. Jacobson reassured me and his calm demeanor made a bad situation a lot better.
I am one of the nearly 46 million people living in the United States who do not have health insurance coverage. I was not able to afford the rising health care premiums on my policy and my policy lapsed approximately six years ago. I have applied for several policies since this time but have been declined coverage due to a back injury that I had 16 years ago. I have been able to find coverage from an insurance provider that is state-mandated to accept all applications, but the premiums quoted were higher than I could afford ($900 a month), double the amount of my rent payment.
I have nobody to blame but myself for my current financial predicament, but I cringe every time I hear a story on the news about unruly public debates on health care. The country seems to be very divided on whether a government one-payer health coverage system makes sense or not. Words such as socialized medicine, government controlled, and television propaganda advertisements with testimonies from Canadians saying how bad their nationally controlled health care system is.
I honestly didn’t know if the commercials were accurate in expressing the sentiments of the majority of Canadian citizens. After doing a few quick fact checks on the Internet and listening to other radio and television news shows, I found that the vast majority of Canadians do like their health care system.
The point being is that our health care system, in my opinion, is wrecked, and badly at that. When a typical 30-something, in average health, cannot find or afford health care coverage in a country that is considered to be among the very best, there is a problem.
I personally know many people that cannot afford health coverage and routinely go without annual checkups or see a doctor when they are sick. How many of those people in the United States are becoming more ill or even dying because they cannot afford to see a doctor?
My greatest scare in cutting my fingers severely was how I was going to pay for this mess I just created. I was as upset, if not more so with the fact that I just sunk myself financially deeper in debt and that any hopes of being able to promote/advertise a newly created business as a photographer was lost.
I sincerely hope that this country can unite in some form of agreement on health care coverage because the current system is not working. It is not only consumers who are upset with the current health care coverage, but also physicians as well. There is a problem in this country and as its citizens we can solve it. I don’t have all the answers but I do know that a country divided and shouting criticisms from both sides of the aisle are not going to solve any problems and only divide this country even further.
Thank you Dr. Jacobson for doing a great job and being a true doctor, one that cares and understands that the hand or fingers you are working on are attached to a real living person, with or without health care insurance.

Noah Creamer • TC
 
Monday, August 10, 2009

Letters 8/10/09

Letters Letters 8/10/09

Parking fine no problem
Here’s my response to Marsha Minervini’s “TC’s parking fine turn-off” from the 8/3-8/9, edition.
Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.
Must you complain about such trivial inconveniences as $5 parking tickets? I mean, come on we’re talking about the difference between walking an extra few blocks or paying a $5 ticket. What does the parking structure charge anyway? I can’t imagine its much less than $5 for an all day pass.
I live in Los Angeles most of the year and parking tickets there are around $50. There, meter-maids patrol the streets around the clock nearly every five minutes compared to the single meter officer I see here in town periodically strolling our sacred streets. You should consider yourself lucky to only have to pay a $5 ticket. Look at it this way. If you decide to park at a meter, $5 is all you’d have to spend in order to park in a space of your desire for the entire day. Isn’t that swell?
What about my other suggestion, walking? Have you ever considered parking a few blocks away from your destination and attempted the simple exercise known as walking? It could be quite rewarding. There are some beautiful and historical buildings surrounding the downtown area that you may not have ever noticed before because you were too comfortable cruising around in your gas guzzler while conveniently parking in front of your desired location.
Now, I know that there are some newer, hideous, and quite frankly god-awful buildings that have been constructed by affluent, tasteless developers in the area most people with any kind of architectural class would cringe at the site of, but rest assured, luckily there’s only a few.
And as for your ridiculous comment about “wiping off the smiles and making folks hurry away from the shops after a movie instead of lingering and spending dollars.” Well, considering the state of our economy and the major inconvenience due to the lack of parking, the film festival actually had over 96,000 attendees up 20 percent from 2008 and I’m sure the shop owners and restaurateurs flourished with impressive profits as well. So with that said, I along with the other 96,000 people feel absolutely no empathy for you.
You should learn to make some sacrifices for the better good as should all Americans for that matter. Due to your situation you might not have seen one of the many wonderful environmental documentaries at this year’s festival. They all shared a common theme: Consume less or only what you need as a basic necessity. So, my suggestion is to walk into downtown next year instead of paying the minuscule $5 penalty. I hope that you’d enjoy the experience.

Mike McGee • TC

Clean Energy
The time is now to pass strong clean energy jobs legislation that will jumpstart our economy and lay the groundwork for America to be competitive in the 21st century.
As a recent New York Times editorial argued “The older, dirtiest (coal) plants... simply cannot be let off the hook.” The Senate must close damaging loopholes in the energy bill. We must fix the energy bill and save the clean Air Act. The House passed a bill that was weakened by industry lobbyists and repeals the part of the Clean Air Act that limits global warming pollution from power plants. This roll back will open the door for many more coal plants. Call your senators and demand they put it back in the bill.

Ellen Weber • TC

No abortion, please
As a guiding principle, the Hippocratic Oath - “first do no harm” is a reasonable one for the health-care reform bills Congress is considering. Financial concerns about an increased government role in health care are legitimate, but few argue that all Americans should have access to essential health care.
Abortion, however, isn’t essential health care - it is the choice to end one human life for the convenience of another. You may or may not agree that abortion should remain legal. What seems inarguable is that, in a nation so divided on the issue, that taxpayer dollars be used to pay for the procedure, or that federally approved health-benefit plans require coverage for abortion. Yet unless Congress specifically excludes abortion from the health-care reform bill, it will be covered.
If your readers are as concerned by that prospect as I am, they should contact their U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators and insist that abortion be excluded from health-care reform. I belong to a non-partisan grassroots organization called the Center for Moral Clarity which has online resources to easily accomplish this (it’s easy to find on a search engine such as Google). I urge your readers to join me in raising our voices to make sure we do not become complicit in funding abortions under the guise of health-care reform.

Jill Congdon • Interlochen



Rubbish to ‘radical‘ tag
I have read with great disgust how I and others who protest the government spending and cramming health insurance reform down our throats are being called radicals and un-American. To those who spew such garbage I say rubbish!
We who work everyday and take care of our family and our future are getting a raw deal from a government and the Democratic Party that refuses to listen to the majority of U.S. citizens. When President Obama says, “I promise you we will pass health reform by the end of this year because the American people need it,” he has turned his back on all of us and refuses to listen. When a government goes against its people it is time for the government to go.

T. Galoi • via email


 
Monday, August 3, 2009

Letters 8/3/09

Letters Letters 8/3/09

TC‘s parking fine turn-off

We are all enjoying a week of downtown excitement and fun. Our out-of-town
visitors and plenty of locals are filling the shops, wineries, and
restaurants. Everyone is smiling, talking movies, food, and weather. The
towns and recreation areas that surround Traverse City are also seeing
increased business. The Mercato shops and grounds at the Grand Traverse
Commons are full of wandering guests. How wonderful to have a parking
problem!
All of this translates to dollars... even for the city. The deck often has
a “we are full” sign at the entrance and the bus loop has been working
well. Welcome to Traverse City! Our parking deck is full and our meters
only allow for two-hour parking.
Most movies last longer than two hours, so we are seeing lots of little
yellow envelopes on cars with $5 parking tickets; the violation department
gets a bonus week.
It’s a quick way to wipe off the smiles and make folks hurry away from the
shops after
a movie instead of lingering and spending dollars.

Marsha Minervini • TC

Manufacturing wake-up

A recent writer fell under the spell of General Electric’s CEO and
believed what she read.
GE’s Jeffrey Immelt was either being ludicrous or he expected his audience
to be obscenely uninformed if he truly said that manufacturing could save
the United States from its self-imposed state of unemployment. This
gentleman and his cohorts are strong proponents of offshore manufacturing.
CEO’s for the big box stores, manufacturing, and assembly depend upon
products from India, China, Pakistan, Mexico, etc. to meet their profit
goals.
GE as of two years ago, had only two “assembly” plants within U.S. borders
and those were closed and jobs sent to Mexico. Not for quality, but cost
-- as shown by the GE light bulbs I purchased which supposedly would last
two years and didn’t make it to six months before burning out.
Jobs sent to other countries will remain a reality because the profit
motive is king. Shoppers who prefer the marts and other box stores are
promoting offshore job movement, refusing to think twice about what their
purchases mean.
The workers in other countries have a right to jobs too, and I would not
be in favor of any restrictions that would limit those jobs. Any laws
passed must be geared to covering imports done by workers under poor
working conditions. If a Chinese company or a GE company in Mexico uses
underpaid workers, laws should constrain their exports to the U.S. Laws
governing safety should also be considered.
I will not purchase one particular brand of tooth paste because it is
“assembled-manufactured” in the U.S., but the chemicals for it come from
China and their safety record is blemished.
Westernized consumers would do well to remember a childhood game of
musical chairs. There are many jobs for the world-wide population, but far
too many people. The universe may or may not be expanding, but the planet
is not. It’s time to share on a world-wide basis and that includes jobs.

Barbara Young • Bear Lake

Support single-payer

Every day in most newspapers there is always a letter dealing with the
right of
the people for a single-payer system on healthcare.
Writing opinion letters to the papers is just blowing in the wind; what is
really necessary is for the people of this country to write, phone, email,
whatever to their representatives in Congress. After all, we the people
provide them with the best care our money can buy. Plus, they are bought
and paid for by the lobbyists for big pharma and the insurance companies
who have to make sure their investors are satisfied with the way they
deliver healthcare for the common man.
In the past three weeks or so on Bill Moyers Journal on PBS, there have
been different doctors and journalists speaking out on a single-payer
system. Wendell Potter, head of communications for Cigna, talked about
how the people of this country are being outgunned by the lobbyists to
make sure healthcare is delivered through the companies and not the
government. It is the insurance industry that makes the decisions for the
doctors and claims that government should stay out of the system.
Well folks, as long as you keep writing your comments to the letters to
the editor section, things will not change. I have emailed my
representatives and have sent comments to the President. Surely there is
more than one person who is doing the same; what about the rest of you?

Marilyn Prezkop • Williamsburg

Pot & profits

Your article about growing pot is nice, but even though the voters have
spoken, the real power is still in profits.
Elitist drug companies and others have worked to keep a simple wonder
plant illegal to their benefit. Where are the former arguments of “It
leads to harder drugs,” and “What about the children”? I can tell you it’s
now about “Not letting (medical marijuana) into the hands of leisure
user.”
I really doubt if I will ever be allowed to grow or use legally, for the
police make too much money along with their legal minions who have taken
almost everything away from me. When will I be able to have my own freedom
for my own body in a country that claims to be free?
My life has been permanently ruined by criminal law enforcement and I
don’t want to see others end up as I have in this hypocritical country,
where only money is important, with not even a care about how you got it.

Bradford Krull • via email


It‘s just a plant

Marijuana has been proven to be much less harmful than the already legal
drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, but also has scientifically-proven
beneficial effects.
Marijuana prohibition and the harsh penalties put on the non-violent users
are more harmful than the plant itself. It’s evident the marijuana culture
is not going to leave our society anytime soon, so why not embrace it? Why
not regulate it, set limitations, and fuel our economy, rather than the
pockets of underground dealers?
I’m not saying feed our kids pot for breakfast, or let them smoke a joint
on the playground after school; I’m saying set age limits on marijuana,
treat it like the legal drugs of our society, and see the statistics drop
in criminal activity, youth drug use, and amount of drug dealers on our
streets.
Not a single person in the history of mankind has overdosed on marijuana.
Why? Because it’s impossible, that’s why. How many legal drugs can you say
that about? None.
Marijuana users are not criminals, nor should they ever had been in the
first place. It’s just a plant, people. Stop being so afraid.

Marc Gee • Petoskey

 
Monday, July 27, 2009

Letters 7/27/09

Letters Letters 7/27/09
Canada‘s health plan
Americans are being warned about the “horrors” of the Canadian health care system, a “single payer” system much like the bill which has been introduced by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, “Medicare for All” Bill, HR676. I once had an opportunity to look into this myself.
During two Elderhostel programs in the Canadian Maritimes, in two different towns in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, attended by about 60 people, mostly Canadians, I decided to sit down and talk with them at our shared meals to learn about their health care system.
They were unanimously -- as I recall-- enthusiastic about their system. Of course, they had usual gripes and complaints, but certainly wouldn’t trade for our “system.”
Finally, I sat down with what one might call an old curmudgeon and asked him how he liked his healthcare.
He said: “I don’t want to talk about it.”
So I said that I really had no axe to grind and just wanted to know just how they felt about the system.
He replied: “I really don’t want to talk about it.”
Being a little frustrated after good conversations with other members of the groups, I said to him: “Well, then, can you tell me why you don’t want to talk about it.”
He said: “Well, I’ll tell you why....
Every time I tell an American that we like our health care system, he doesn’t believe me.”
Who has the problem?
No Canadian is without healthcare. 46 million Americans are.
Our cost is the highest. We rank 37th in healthcare performance in the world.
Briefly, Canadians can’t understand how we can still put up with the costs and abuses of our so called “system” here in the States. They believe that good healthcare is implied by “inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Isn’t it?

Robert E. Marshall • Lake Leelanau

We need health reform
Is a public option the same as socialized medicine? Does the United States need health care reform or are we better off continuing on the same path we are on?
The airwaves are full of ads trying to convince us that healthcare reform will be far too expensive. However, none of those predictions considers what price we will pay if we continue on the same path we are on. None of those predictions reports the huge salaries of pharmaceutical and insurance CEOs. The Congressional Budget Office projects that our annual health costs will soar to about $13,000 per person in 2017 while the number of uninsured will climb to 54 million by 2019.
Health care in the United States is the most expensive of any industrialized nation, yet our rank of efficient and effective care ranks 37th. It is not only those without health insurance who suffer; many with policies do not get the coverage they need and are not able to pay the additional costs for their care. Medical costs are the most frequent cause of bankruptcies in our country.
Come to a forum on Aug. 12, Mancelona High School, 7 p.m., and get your questions answered.

Lou Ann McKimmy • Rapid City

Senators paid off?
Senators who signed a letter to President Obama opposing public health plan took $17.7 million in campaign cash from the healthcare/insurance industry. Those senators are Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), John Ensign (R-NV), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and John Cornyn (R-TX).
All nine senators are members of the Senate Finance Committee actively engaged in debating health care reform. This information is found on www.campaignmoney.org
Every day the health industry pays lobbyists $1.4 million to prevent a public health care plan. Your higher premiums equal their higher profits!

Beverly Christensen • Cedar

Winds of controversy
As a Northern Michigan property owner who lived “off-grid” for over eight years using a wind generator, I was interested in the vertical-axis wind turbines. I went to several people who have installed them and received nothing but negative reports including:
1. They are very expensive.
2. They product very little electrical power compared to blade wind generators for the same price.
3. The power companies required that they buy new electrical meters and install add-on protections at the owners expense.
One owner told me that they had advised over 20 people who stopped by asking information that they were a rip-off!. Added, for the same cost you can install a regular unit that produces two-and-a-half times the power. If installed correctly and in the right location, the “pay-back” on these machines is under 10 years.

Micheal Cromley • Afton


Time to help each other
This letter is in response to the “Manufacturing meltdown“ letter in the 7/20 edition. It is eye-opening to see that some other people have enough awareness to see what I’ve considered disturbing for years.
Barbara Bernier hit the nail on the head on two points: We as a nation cannot blame any single person in office, past or present for this country’s woes. Although some sure have contributed through questionable policy decisions.
Also, it was inevitable that the long-standing trend, fueled by greed, of outsourcing jobs would lead to dire consequences.
The evidence is all around us. As these U.S. companies have fueled their bottom line/luxury lifestyles how could they expect us as U.S. citizens to have the incomes to buy their products once they reached our shores?
Try watching the movie Bordertown, which is a real eye-opener, in which we also see the effects of cheap labor to humans in other countries. Think about what the workers portrayed endure the next time you walk into a U.S. electronics store and are inundated with the array of high-tech products. And come on, who really needs a damn 65-inch television anyway?
Let‘s open our eyes, get off our tails (prime-time TV has gone down the tubes anyway), and let’s pull together to help each other out of this debacle.

Michelle Beckstrom • TC

 
Monday, July 20, 2009

Letters 7/20/09

Letters Letters 7/20/09

The myth of ‘good news‘
I read the story on Eric Wotila’s Local Edition broadcast (“Sunny Side Up,“ 7/6) with a groan, as I do whenever I hear people, especially those in broadcasting, spread the misconception that there is some kind of under-reported stepchild out there called “positive” or “good” news.
“Positive community news” already has a name: Features. And the Northern Michigan media market is saturated with features. Every single media outlet in the area does features. In fact, the Bay Area Times and the Grand Traverse Insider are two publications that spring to mind immediately, which write nothing but this so-called “positive community news,” or however you’d like to brand it.
This disingenuous branding perpetuates the myth that editors and reporters don’t care about anything besides the big, sexy story because that’s going to sell more newspapers or draw more viewers. In reality, the features and entertainment fare, not the hard news, are what draws in more advertising. Soft news has a wider audience and advertisers know this.
Throwing hard news reporting under the bus, however, undermines the watchdog efforts of daily newspapers, which are struggling not because their editorial staffs aren’t up to snuff, but rather because their corporate owners were lax to pioneer alternative revenue streams when the emerging Internet began draining advertising dollars.
To hear Wotila quote the clichéd “if it bleeds, it leads” straw man argument from the bygone days of yellow journalism just makes me think the real reason he’s beating the “good news” drum is because features is all he knows how to do. Actual hard news reporting takes a lot of time and effort to learn, and costs a lot to produce. That’s why so few media outlets offer it. Most reporters attend university and/or spend years training on minor news and features. Wotila, as noted, is self-taught and only 20.
I don’t want to take away from Wotila’s monumental efforts in overcoming Asperger Syndrome and getting the program on the air. But to have real, lasting success in journalism, Wotila ought to consider that trust is the relationship backbone between news media and their audience. There’s nothing wrong with only covering features, just be up front about it.
Still, I was going to wish Wotila success with his Local Edition broadcast, but it appears that funding problems have shut the show down already, according a statement on their web site.

Garret M. Ellison • Grand Rapids

The writer is a former Traverse City resident and a West Michigan reporter.

Rothbury shocker
I have to say I was absolutely shocked at the so-called “Rothbury Report“ (7/13). Is this Kristi Kates a normal festival-attender? I have attended several festivals with Rothbury leaving me in awe, only behind Jam Cruise. They do such a great job at giving concertgoers exactly what they want. Nature, music, art, and a weekend of freedom.
For Kristi to say the worst thing about Rothbury was the concertgoers, is unbelievable to me and many I’ve spoken with about this. For four days I was surrounded by the most polite and fun-loving crowd possible. I never once bumped into or ran across anyone rude in any manner.
Did she even go to Rothbury? It was an amazing weekend filled with a huge eclectic list of musicians, a forest dressed to make Alice’s Wonderland a joke, and a crowd of the happiest people on earth because they were there.
She obviously isn’t too big of a fan of jam-band music seeing as she regarded The Dead as The Grateful Dead, who are no longer a band since the death of Jerry Garcia. She also seemed to be impressed with Flogging Molly, and who the heck is that?

Autumn Sleder • via email

Camp‘s non-plan
I once overheard a woman telling a health care advocate that her family didn’t need to worry because her husband works for General Motors. Congressman Dave Camp (R-Midland) doesn’t need to worry because his needs are covered by taxpayers and insurance industry contributions. The industry collects exorbitant premiums then pays millions to CEOs and bureaucrats while buying off politicians so that when a catastrophic event strikes, we might be given a thin spaghetti dinner while Dave gets the “fat Cadillac” care.
Camp dishes out the old s’mores: tax deductions instead of health insurance; paranoid “socialism” fears; and other misrepresentations from a “republiCan’t” representing health industry wants over family needs.
Comedy Central’s parody is credible: “Most people who can’t afford health insurance also are too poor to owe taxes, but if you give them a deduction from the taxes they don’t owe, they can use the money they’re not getting back from what they haven’t given to buy health care they can’t afford.”
Stay well.

Joyce Walter • Suttons Bay


High-five for Jackson
I recently wasted my time reading an article regarding Michael Jackson that was written by Ross Boissoneau... where did you find this guy, Dummies R Us? (Re: “The King is Dead -- Get Used to It,“ 7/6“.)
It is blatantly obvious that Ross has no knowledge of the music industry. To compare Michael Jackson to Todd Rundgren is laughable. While I enjoy Todd’s music, being more of a “Wizard a True Star” lover than “Something Anything,” Todd is nowhere near the talent that Jackson was -- that is similar to comparing a Pinto to a Porsche.
Boissoneau complains that Michael Jackson did not play an instrument so his career will be eclipsed by Prince and Steve Winwood. Perhaps Ross did not realize that Michael Jackson SINGS, DANCES, AND PERFORMS while on stage, so it is a bit difficult to play a piano and moonwalk at the same time.
Another stupid comment in Boissoneau’s article asks the question... “Will Jackson’s music still be played in 20 or 30 or 50 years?” I would be happy to send him a calendar since he is apparently unable to tell time correctly. It has been over 40 years since Michael started his career as the lead singer of the Jackson 5, and Thriller recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, still receiving airplay on the radio and selling records. So I would think it is safe to say that his music has stood the test of time. My guess is Boissoneau is not old enough to own a vinyl collection of Jackson or has any love of Motown and its place in musical history.
The reality is this: everyone has a different opinion of Michael Jackson; it is like discussing religion or politics. Regardless of what you think of this man personally, his music and enormous talent made a huge impact upon the world and for some freelance writer to state otherwise is simply ridiculous and untrue. I, for one, am not a big Elvis fan, but I will certainly acknowledge this man’s contribution to the music industry, and I suggest Boissoneau do the same for Michael Jackson.
Please do not waste perfectly good space in your magazine to print any future false ramblings from hack writers -- life is too short to read crap when there are so many gifted writers out there.
I believe in free speech and the right to voice an opinion, however, just get the FACTS straight.
I wrote this letter in memory of Michael Jackson, I “Never Can Say Goodbye,” as he was “Gone to Soon.”

Marg Hanlin • via email

 
Monday, July 13, 2009

Letters 7/13/09

Letters Letters 7/13/09
Michael Jackson fanmail
You’ve got to be kidding me with this article: your “Northern View” on the death of Michael Jackson was rude and insulting (re: “The King is Dead... Get Used to It“). It was plain to read Ross Boissoneau did not take the time to do his research on the “king of pop.”
Does he pull the wings off flies while they are still alive too? I grew up with the music of Michael Jackson and that man had more talent than anyone could ever comprehend. That man was a musical genius and more. Hasn‘t the writer ever heard him mouth musical instruments? Hasn’t he been to one of MJ‘s concerts? Didn’t he know that financially, MJ is written in the world records book as the most charitable entertainer in the world? Did he mention how many thousands of children MJ has helped over the years that were sick and dying? Did he ever meet Michael Jackson?
Before you wrote this trash article, Boissoneau, did you bother to take the time to really think what it must have been like to be Michael Jackson, world famous, but yet so lonely? I think the media can blame themselves for what they did to him, name-calling and all. What do you look like in the mirror... circus freak!
Out of respect for the dead alone, Boissoneau should be ashamed of himself and perhaps report back to the National Enquirer.

Sylvia Bowling • via email

The courage to say it
Bless Ross Boissoneau for his frank and honest evaluation of Michael Jackson. We need to appreciate his music and talent, but definitely not gloss over his bizarre and damaging past. Thank you Ross for having the courage to say it all.

Dan & Barbara Goodearl • via email

Lesson for young losers
As of late, I am wondering if the younger generation of Americans are worth giving jobs to? Small business owners that I know all say the same thing: you can’t get good help.
Young Americans have been brought up to understand you get rewarded even if you don’t perform, and when they go into the job market they have no ethics or reason to take on responsibility for their actions or follow directions. What a shame that we have raised such a bunch of losers. They don’t want to start at the bottom and feel they deserve top pay for doing nothing or next to nothing.
Maybe hiring illegals is the only way some businesses will be able to survive and prosper. The people of America have to change the way we raise our kids and quit pampering their egos with a false sense of accomplishment. If they come in second or last, it isn’t the end of the world, but would show them they need to try harder to be #1.

James C. Williams • Kalkaska


Sneaky behavior
Another example of our local government enacting a tax:
I own property in East Jordan. I do not live in East Jordan, so I pay property taxes at the higher ‘non’ Homestead’ rate (which I knew upon purchasing the property several years ago). In addition, in annual increases in taxable value (despite significant evidence that property values have decreased in recent years), I recently opened my summer tax bill to find it was more than 50 percent higher than last year’s summer tax bill.
Upon investigating this, I learned the following:
East Jordan School System decided, unilaterally, to change the school‘s portion of property tax collection from a one-time collection from the winter tax bill, to collecting one-half in the winter, and one-half in the summer tax bills. I was told this was not a tax increase. Yet, I paid the full school tax with my winter tax bill. I am now paying another one-half with my summer tax bill, and will pay another one-half with my next winter tax bill, etc.
So, today, I have to come up with another $1,100; my future tax payments (on an annual basis), will not be reduced by $1,100. This is a tax increase, pure and simple.
This is particularly underhanded in that I had no notification of any public discussion of this; I received no notice when it was passed; my only notice came with my tax bill, with a due date of less than 30 days of receipt of the bill.
I find this sort of sneaky, back door behavior by public officials insidious. Of course, since I am a non-resident, and can’t vote them out of office, they probably don’t care what I think. When you tax everyone out of their properties (local businesses, and anyone with non-homestead property got hit with the same tax increase - homestead property did too, but at a much lower rate), you’re not going to have much of a tax base left.
Thank you, East Jordan School Board, for demonstrating bad government doesn’t exist just in Lansing and Washington. You qualify to leech off of the public just like they do.
If you’re a voter in East Jordan, please ask yourselves if these are the type of people you want educating your children.

Tim Prophit • East Jordan




 
Monday, July 6, 2009

Letters 7/06/09

Letters Letters 7/5/09
Tampering with pot vote
There are three State Senate bills being introduced that will take away patients‘ rights to grow their own medical marijuana as originally written in Prop 1 and passed by a majority of voters.
The bills are 616, 617 and 618. While it seems that the bills are working to bring more regulations and public safety to the growing of medical marijuana, instead, it may bring about a statewide monopoly and more federal (DEA) involvement.
First, the DEA does not like large growing operations or buying clubs (the trouble plaguing California‘s medical marijuana) and would target the “medical marijuana growing facilities“ (SB618). Whereas, a “caregiver,” as defined in the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA), can only provide medicine for six patients on a much more personal level and is not as big a target.
Bill 616 wishes to amend the MMMA by changing marijuana to a Schedule 2 drug, distributed by a pharmacist, thus taking away the right of patients to grow their own medicine without fear of prosecution. Changing a Federally Scheduled Class 2 drug at the state level may bring in federal agents/agencies and disrupt the needed supply of medicine to patients. Growing a plant does not require additional regulations and oversight as proposed by this bill. Patients cannot poison themselves by growing this medicine. If you grow a plant incorrectly it simply dies.
The original intention and outline of the MMMA, should stand. That is to allow patients access to low-cost medicine, by growing it themselves, if desired.
Having this medicine available at a pharmacy would allow more doctors access to medicinal grade marijuana; however, the federal government may see things differently. Michigan voted to give patients medicine, not a federal government fight.
Call your senator today on this issue, as it will be voted upon soon.

Nirinjan Singh • TC

The new GM
I read with interest Don Montie‘s letter, “Bad auto payback,“ June 2). It appears Don worked at the BOC Assembly plant at Willow Run, which closed in the ‘80s (back when Michigan black tag license plates were a problem in Texas).
I worked at the Hydramatic/Powertrain plant in the same complex at Willow Run until last year. During the ‘70s-‘80s BOC had 4,000-5,000 employees and Powertrain had 14,000 employees. Then GM didn’t make quality products or respond to consumers‘ desires.
Thirty years ago over 50 percent of our plant‘s workforce was under 25 years old, made up of people who graduated from high school in the ‘60s and ‘70s when drug and alcohol use was viewed casually. Back then it was bad, but over the years the people with those problems were let go under the absenteeism programs, drug/ alcohol control programs, quit, or never came back from a layoff.
In the ‘70-‘80s, we made 20-30 transmission products for GM vehicles. One person ran one machine that may have had a cycle time of three-five minutes. You moved your parts to the next machine process by hand, and management didn’t care about quality, just build numbers.
Today, GM is soon to build only a front-wheel and a rear-wheel drive transmission, both with different output housings/torque converters/bell housings for different style and size vehicles. An operator now may run up to 50 long cycle-time machines in a pod, reducing costs; and parts are moved ergonomically on conveyors or chuting with little or no handling.
GM does studies now to minimize the number of times a part is handled from when it comes into the plant to when it leaves, to reduce costs. During the ‘70s, a part that may have had one or two quality checks; today, it is checked for more things and checked at every machining operation.
Today, we build a more complex product with less manpower, better quality, and lower costs that often surpass Honda’s and Toyota’s product numbers.
As to the quality of the employees, I was proud to work with them. To work with 2,000 people and not work with a thief, a drunk, a racist, or a drug abuser is just as likely as to not work with a minister, a VA volunteer, a National Guardsman who served in Iraq, a volunteer EMS fireman, or the many other employees involved in charitable causes and doing good deeds. A bad egg in a company of 10-25 employees is much more noticeable than one in a much larger company, but a bad egg in a big company is liked as much as a bad egg in a small company. I haven’t read “been there,” but the GM of the past is nothing like the GM of the present.

Ray Ravary, Jr. • 32-year GM employee/retiree

Say no to sprinklers
A proposal before the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth to require new residential homes have interior sprinkling systems is ill advised. It is well established that smoke detectors are a more reliable and cost effective way of saving lives.
Hardwired interconnected battery back-up smoke detectors run an average of $50 per detector while independent tamper-proof 10-year battery smoke detectors run between $20 and $25. The average quote in Michigan for installed sprinkler systems for homes on municipal water was $6,566.57 and $11,975.60 for homes on well water.
Families who cannot qualify to purchase the new homes due to the new costs from the mandatory requirement for sprinklers will have to live in housing that is less safe because that housing was built to less stringent code requirements.
Increasing the cost of a new home also drives up the price of existing homes. The greater the increase in the price of existing homes the more Michigan families who are forced to live in less safe homes.

Mike Farrer • TC


Inconvenient
For over a decade I’ve had to mail a paper check twice annually to Garfield Township to pay my property taxes. I was glad to see that the township now offers an online credit card payment option, but only through www.officialpayments.com, which is owned by a company in Reston, Virginia. A “convenience fee” is charged for this service. That is a disappointment, as my own online bill-payment service through a local bank is free.
Using the website’s online calculator, I found the “convenience fee” on a $1,500 tax bill to be $45! This fee is for a one-time payment! Perhaps Garfield Township officials feel the “convenience fee” is a good value in exchange for the convenience (to them) of not having to manually process a large volume of “snailmail” and paper checks.
I decided to continue to mail a paper check to Garfield Township. I’ll use the money I save by not paying the “convenience fee” to help the local economy and buy a good dinner at one of our finer local restaurants.
I’m wondering how many other Garfield Township taxpayers will prefer not to have this “convenient” online service eat their lunch!

Hillar Bergman • TC
 
Monday, July 6, 2009

Letters 7/06/09

Letters Letters 7/6/09
Tampering with pot vote
There are three State Senate bills being introduced that will take away patients‘ rights to grow their own medical marijuana as originally written in Prop 1 and passed by a majority of voters.
The bills are 616, 617 and 618. While it seems that the bills are working to bring more regulations and public safety to the growing of medical marijuana, instead, it may bring about a statewide monopoly and more federal (DEA) involvement.
First, the DEA does not like large growing operations or buying clubs (the trouble plaguing California‘s medical marijuana) and would target the “medical marijuana growing facilities“ (SB618). Whereas, a “caregiver,” as defined in the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA), can only provide medicine for six patients on a much more personal level and is not as big a target.
Bill 616 wishes to amend the MMMA by changing marijuana to a Schedule 2 drug, distributed by a pharmacist, thus taking away the right of patients to grow their own medicine without fear of prosecution. Changing a Federally Scheduled Class 2 drug at the state level may bring in federal agents/agencies and disrupt the needed supply of medicine to patients. Growing a plant does not require additional regulations and oversight as proposed by this bill. Patients cannot poison themselves by growing this medicine. If you grow a plant incorrectly it simply dies.
The original intention and outline of the MMMA, should stand. That is to allow patients access to low-cost medicine, by growing it themselves, if desired.
Having this medicine available at a pharmacy would allow more doctors access to medicinal grade marijuana; however, the federal government may see things differently. Michigan voted to give patients medicine, not a federal government fight.
Call your senator today on this issue, as it will be voted upon soon.

Nirinjan Singh • TC

The new GM
I read with interest Don Montie‘s letter, “Bad auto payback,“ June 2). It appears Don worked at the BOC Assembly plant at Willow Run, which closed in the ‘80s (back when Michigan black tag license plates were a problem in Texas).
I worked at the Hydramatic/Powertrain plant in the same complex at Willow Run until last year. During the ‘70s-‘80s BOC had 4,000-5,000 employees and Powertrain had 14,000 employees. Then GM didn’t make quality products or respond to consumers‘ desires.
Thirty years ago over 50 percent of our plant‘s workforce was under 25 years old, made up of people who graduated from high school in the ‘60s and ‘70s when drug and alcohol use was viewed casually. Back then it was bad, but over the years the people with those problems were let go under the absenteeism programs, drug/ alcohol control programs, quit, or never came back from a layoff.
In the ‘70-‘80s, we made 20-30 transmission products for GM vehicles. One person ran one machine that may have had a cycle time of three-five minutes. You moved your parts to the next machine process by hand, and management didn’t care about quality, just build numbers.
Today, GM is soon to build only a front-wheel and a rear-wheel drive transmission, both with different output housings/torque converters/bell housings for different style and size vehicles. An operator now may run up to 50 long cycle-time machines in a pod, reducing costs; and parts are moved ergonomically on conveyors or chuting with little or no handling.
GM does studies now to minimize the number of times a part is handled from when it comes into the plant to when it leaves, to reduce costs. During the ‘70s, a part that may have had one or two quality checks; today, it is checked for more things and checked at every machining operation.
Today, we build a more complex product with less manpower, better quality, and lower costs that often surpass Honda’s and Toyota’s product numbers.
As to the quality of the employees, I was proud to work with them. To work with 2,000 people and not work with a thief, a drunk, a racist, or a drug abuser is just as likely as to not work with a minister, a VA volunteer, a National Guardsman who served in Iraq, a volunteer EMS fireman, or the many other employees involved in charitable causes and doing good deeds. A bad egg in a company of 10-25 employees is much more noticeable than one in a much larger company, but a bad egg in a big company is liked as much as a bad egg in a small company. I haven’t read “been there,” but the GM of the past is nothing like the GM of the present.

Ray Ravary, Jr. • 32-year GM employee/retiree

 
 
Close
Close
Close