Letters

Letters 04-14-14

Benishek Inching

Regarding “Benishek No Environmentalist” I agree with Mr. Powell’s letter to the editor/ opinion of Congressman Dan Benishek’s poor environmental record and his penchant for putting corporate interests ahead of his constituents’...

Climate Change Warning

Currently there are three assaults on climate change. The first is on the integrity of the scientists who support human activity in climate change. Second is that humans are not capable of affecting the climate...

Fed Up About Roads

It has gotten to the point where I cringe when I have to drive around this area. There are areas in Traverse City that look like a war zone. When you have to spend more time viewing potholes instead on concentrating on the road, accidents are bound to happen...

Don’t Blame the IRS

I have not heard much about the reason for the IRS getting itself entangled with the scrutiny of certain conservative 501(c) groups (not for profit) seeking tax exemption. Groups seeking tax relief must be organizations that are operated “primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterment and social improvements.”


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Monday, July 7, 2008

Letters 7/7/08

Letters Mining disaster
Over a dozen mines for copper, nickel, gold, zinc, and possibly uranium are currently on the drawing boards for the Upper Peninsula, home to some of the most pristine rivers and aquifers in the world.
Acid sulfide mining has the potential to pollute both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. This type of mining is not like that of the old days. It has the potential to pollute for hundreds of years.
This type of mining has already caused irreparable harm near the Flambeau River in northern Wisconsin. The mine there closed in 1997; however, 10 years later, there are still toxic levels of iron, copper, and manganese in the region. Very harmful to fish, manganese is also known to cause Parkinson-like tremors in humans. In fact, the state of Wisconsin will no longer allow such type of mining unless or until a company can show that a mine has operated and been closed for 10 years without causing such mess.
This type of mining is being explored less than 25 miles from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Minnesota. Sulfide mining also has the potential to permanently eradicate the last known spawning grounds of the rare coaster brook trout along the south shore of Lake Superior.
The demand for raw materials to feed China’s industrial machine could turn Michigan into a “colony.” All so we here in the U.S. can consume more “stuff” and China and other developing nations can have items like cars, refrigerators, and cell phones. The chickens (vultures?) have finally come home to roost.
It is a really dumb idea to pollute pristine rivers that feed our Great Lakes -- our only source of fresh water. As the issues of “not enough clean water” rise to the forefront here in the U.S., we will be left with a nightmare if these types of mines are allowed to take foot anywhere near the Great Lakes.
Join mine protesters as we walk from the Yellow Dog Plains (western Marquette County) to the Mackinac Bridge during the last two weeks in August – just in time to walk The Bridge on Labor Day. You can walk for a few hours, a weekend, or do the entire trip.
Contact us at www.yellowdogwatershed.org, www.savethewildup.org, www.northwoodswild.org for more details.

Margaret Comfort
• Bourbonnais, IL

The coming crisis
Fuel pricing has a more deliberate and insidious aspect than what has been reported. It is not simply true that oil has become more valuable; the dollar has been devalued to a point where it takes more of them to buy a gallon of gas.
Think of it this way. An ounce of gold would buy a decent men‘s suit in Dante’s day. The same amount of gold will buy one of equal value today. The suit only seems more expensive because there are more dollars involved.
The main culprit is the Federal Reserve Bank, which has been politicized by an oil-baron president. This president is also obsessed with his “legacy.” The cost of energy has risen to record levels, and yet, our Republican administration thinks inflation is low. The Federal Reserve takes this cue and lowers the interest rates. This devalues the dollar, which causes the price of gas to spike.
The European Central Bank (ECB) recently raised interest rates due to its perception that inflation is being “imported” from America. The mere suggestion that the ECB is contemplating another interest rate hike is enough to send the price of oil skyrocketing.
This is due to a global lack of confidence in this Republican administration, and its perceived influence on the Fed. How can two major financial institutions look at the same thing and come to such different conclusions?
Like other branches of our government, the Fed has been politicized by a rogue faction of politicians known as the neo-conservatives. It was the neocons who were the architects in the war for petroleum wealth. The bulk of the powerful Washington neocons involved in the Iraq war strategy are oil barons.
A low interest rate has helped to keep the lid on their huge war deficit. The totally irresponsible parties somehow appear a little bit more responsible in a delusional sort of way.
The passing of the presidential gas this November will make it appear that the new administration is to blame as the old one scoots out the door just in time. George Bush will bask in the illusion of his legacy while sticking his “lingering” consequences to someone else. Old pot-hole Engler, and his misguided choir of fiscal irresponsible Republicans did the same thing to our current governor.
The real Bush legacy is best described as a poisoned well.

Timothy Wiley • via email
 
Monday, June 30, 2008

Letters 6/30/08

Letters Christians & torture
What happened to us? How have we turned into a nation that invades and totally destroys a country, causing the death of up to a million innocent civilians? Is it not immoral to kill? Is it not immoral to seek the treasures of another country for our own gain (i.e, oil)? Isn’t there a commandment about coveting thy neighbors’ things?
As if all of this were not enough, the U.S. government now condones torture. The evil ones have given the word torture new names, such as “abuse“ and “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Water boarding made the news for weeks, as it was debated as a form of torture or not. Did you know we tried the Japanese in WWII for using water boarding? Water tortures have been considered torture for centuries, but under the Bush regime, it’s acceptable.
The election of George W. Bush and the religious right is a strong connection. I still ponder how any Christian is okay with the death and suffering of innocent people in Iraq. I ponder how any Christian can support a regime that legitimized and legalized torture.
Did you know that five cases of detainee deaths as a result of abuse (i.e. torture) by U.S. personnel have occurred? In addition, 23 other cases of detainee deaths are still under investigation. (The Schlesinger Report, cited in “Torture and Truth“ by Mark Danner). These detainees were not charged, tried, nor convicted for any crime to my knowledge.
From everything I’ve read on torture, IT’S UNRELIABLE. Innocent people will say anything they think is required to end torture. Even those who are guilty may still give false information, thus leading investigators on wild goose chases.
How can anyone be okay with torturing a human being? These detainee victims were someone’s brother, son, or father. These victims may have been guilty of nothing more than lacking the ability to speak English as they were picked up off the streets. Even if guilty of something, does that justify torture? I say to you, who would Jesus torture? Would Jesus prefer the water boarding technique or perhaps a stress position for hours? Or perhaps exposure to extreme temperatures for long time periods?
In recognition of National Torture Awareness Month in June, please contact your representatives in Congress and tell them that we Americans do not support torture.
Torture is absolutely immoral, it is an aberrant behavior, it is opposite of everything the America I knew once represented.

Karen Martin • Cheboygan

 
Monday, June 23, 2008

Letters 6/23/08

Letters Swan song
Over the last seven years, I’ve devoted myself and a great deal of my time and dedication to the music scene here in Northern Michigan.
I‘ve been involved with organizing the food drive for the Tom Wright Project at the Dennos Museum. I‘ve created the M.E.P. program for Grand Traverse probationary youths at Northstar productions.
I helped create a successful battle of the bands, have formed several bands, and played for such charitable causes as the motorcycle rodeo for disabled veterans, for the Betsie River Labor Day disabled veterans party. I‘ve hosted several open mic shows and opened a studio where local musicians can come to practice for little or no money at all. It’s not about the money, it’s about the music, it’s about the people.
On June 4 I received several phone calls informing me of an attack on my character and my name. The callers wondered if this was a stage bit for the audience by Steve Normandin on the radio. Who is Steve Normandin? He’s better known as Omelette of WKLT’s Omelette and Finster morning show. I was called a liar, a backstabber and manipulative, and in past weeks received calls regarding comments they made on the air, stating my band, The Mob, had broken up.
You wonder why? I’ll tell you. I supported Omelette and Finster from the moment they hit the air, thinking here’s a couple of guys that are all about the people. I donated my time to record a demo CD for the show featuring Finster singing “I’ve been everywhere, man.” I even helped create the Twisted Finster band out of my studio, holding auditions for the project as well as rehearsals. Bet you readers and listeners didn’t know that.
Hell, I even got Mister Windy a job! All because I believed they were for the people. But they’re not... they’re about the ratings!
Here’s where it all goes wrong: earlier this year I held auditions for a female vocalist for my band, The Mob. Many came, many tried, but we chose the best. This woman is a single mother with a heart of gold and a voice to match. Her name is Crystal Wilcox. You readers and listeners might know her as 95.5 The Zone‘s very own Mizz Crystal.
We chose her for her talents, not her radio connection, all in the name of creating a more entertaining aspect to our fans.
But Omelette and Finster seem to think I’ve betrayed them and have taken it upon themselves to ridicule me ON THE AIR over this!
Now I know radio stations are competitive, but I never knew they could be so childish. Isn’t there enough anger and hatred in this world? Isn’t life just a little too short for such pettiness? Does Traverse City have to tune in and hear one of their very own being torn apart by a Northern Michigan wanna-be with a radio show? As far as the Godfather is concerned, Steve Normandin is no more than a fudgie with a microphone and a sidekick.

Don Swan • TC

Take Lyme seriously
I am enraged at the number of people that have written letters to the editor of this publication, critical of the doctors that diagnose and treat lyme disease.
As one who has experienced some improvement from such treatment after years of debilitating symptoms, I am very grateful my doctor stuck her neck out to do so.
Interestingly there was a recent WebMD article that reports new research indicating that not only is Lyme disease a reality, the particular strain found here in the U.S. is the same virulent strain found in Europe. Those criticizing doctors that diagnose and treat patients with Lyme, or bash folks that have Lyme disease are in for a very rude awakening. As time goes by, few will be left that won’t have personal experience -- either themselves or someone close to them - with Lyme disease and co-infections. Count on it.

Diane Bailey • SE Michigan
 
Monday, June 16, 2008

Letters 6/16/08

Letters Letter to Meijer:
I am writing about my credit card account with your company. Please close it immediately. You will find the cut pieces of the card enclosed.
Two reasons I am closing the account. The first is rather minor - 20.45% INTEREST!? Who do you people think you are?
Here’s another problem with Meijer:
Acme Township! I do not live near enough to where you attempted to put that store to have ever shopped there, however if I did, just on principle I would have boycotted it.
I remember going to Meijer as a small child. I was born in Grand Rapids, as were my parents. They moved to Kalamazoo shortly after my birth, however we were in Grand Rapids almost every weekend with family and friends. The store on the corner of Kalamazoo and 28th Street was where Grandma, Aunt Debbie and I would go on Saturday mornings. I remember getting ice cream and treats from the bakery. I remember riding the Sandy ponies for a penny.
That Meijer is gone. In its place is a corporate giant that might as well be Walmart for all its warmth. I’m sure Hendrik is rolling in his grave.
My family and I have chosen to boycott any and all Meijer facilities. We will not buy two-day-old donuts from your bakery when we can buy baked-this-morning ones from our local Oleson’s Food Store. We will not buy gas from your station. We will not wash our cars at your car wash. Nor will I ever again buy plants for my yard and garden from your garden center.
At one time, I did almost all my shopping at your store. When we travelled around the state we would seek out a Meijer because we knew we could find everything we needed. No more.
I’m sure my little letter will not change anything. In fact, I doubt a human being will even process this envelope, but I know the copies of this letter will be read, and with any luck, published.

Kimberly Dittmar
• Kingsley

Hands off vet benefits
I read your most recent article; “Vet must share disability with ex-wife“ in the June 9 issue.
I find it most unconscionable that a judge would do such a thing and garnish a veteran’s benefit that is solely his. What the judge fails to see is that if veteran Calvin Murphy is not retired, under federal law described by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), his disability “benefit” is his and not for alimony.
In a ruling on the law cited by the DFAS, one sees that disabled veterans are not mentioned at any time. I understand the judge is trying to be equitable, but to violate a disabled veteran’s disability benefit is just wrong, unless she was with him in Vietnam.
Alimony is not mentioned once in the U.S. Code which applies to such benefits. Why? Because Congress understood the disabled veterans are a vulnerable group and need help acquiring services due to not being able to stay gainfully employed.
When I read this article it reminds me of a bully picking on someone who cannot fight back. Reading this is certainly a sad day for justice and veterans across America.

Capt. Steven Schaffhouser,
USAF Aux • via email
A veteran‘s pain
In your story about the veteran who must share his benefits with his ex-wife, you forgot to mention that Judge Batzer also ordered Calvin Murphy to pay his ex-wife’s attorney $3,000. I will bet you a dollar to a donut that some of that money will wind up in Judge Batzer’s reelection fund. And don’t forget the state gets funds out of him for taking his money and posting a check to his ex-wife.
I have over half of my Social Security disability taken and given to my ex-wife, yet she is getting 100% of her Social Security benefits.

Gordon Sutton • Schoolcraft
 
Monday, June 9, 2008

Letters 6/9/08

Letters Problems flying via TC
Last November as I settled into my ($94 one way) seat on the plane from Flint to Sarasota, FL, just before the door closed, in rushed the occupant of the seat next to me. He flopped down exclaiming: “Wow, didn’t think I’d make it. I’ve just driven four hours from a little town in the tip of the Leelanau peninsula, Northport.“
Not recognizing him, I asked who he was visiting there as I too had just driven from Northport (in a $37, plus gas, rental car). Each time I make this frequent flight the plane has many people on it going to or from the Grand Traverse area. Why is Flint’s Bishop International Airport, a four-hour drive from here, getting our business?
Sarasota, where my wife and I travel several times a year for business, is very similar to Traverse City. Like TC, a few years ago they built a beautiful new airport. However, compared to Tampa International, an hour drive away, prices were high and flight availability poor. For several years the new airport sat embarrassingly idle.
Finally, after community complaints, a grass roots campaign, and a new director, the authority finally negotiated to bring in AirTran, followed by ATA. The airport and its carriers (except for ATA) today are flourishing to everyone’s delight.
For a city and outlying communities that practically depend on tourism, what’s wrong with Traverse City? Why are there no budget air carriers available for this region at Cherry County Airport? Isn’t it a necessity whose time has come? Why isn’t the business community in Traverse City involved with this issue? Isn’t it time to shut down the FNT connection, do some negotiation, and finally get TVC at Cherry Capitol Airport, onto AirTran’s landing charts?

Craig Brigham • Northport


Legal predator
There was a movie about 20 years ago called Predator. It was about an alien that came to Earth to hunt human beings for sport. The nearly invisible predator would tirelessly stalk it’s human prey, skin them alive, and make prized trophies out of their skulls.
This movie comes to mind whenever I think about the fear and terror experienced by my family and our friends who have endured a barrage of SLAPP suits (strategic lawsuits against public participation) filed by Timothy Stoepker, an attorney from the downstate law firm Dickinson Wright PLLC.
The sinister purpose of these SLAPP suits was to intimidate Acme Township officials into abrogating their local zoning laws. I am pleased to report that the Acme officials were firm in protecting the democratic process in the face of these egregious attacks that threatened their family’s hearth, home, and their modest assets. We stood to lose everything, but instead of cowering, we resoundingly said: “NO!”
And now, to my horror, I read that Mr. Stoepker has turned his predatory gaze on the officials of rural Bear Creek Township (Northern Express, “Lawsuits Bleed Townships,“ 5-26-08). Deeply sympathetic with their plight, I am sure that they too will serve their community well, but they will need the support of their neighbors. It will not be easy.
Thankfully, we do have an Arnold Schwarzenegger type hero to save the day. Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer of the 105th House District is in the process of drafting some very important legislation that will prevent this kind of abuse of our democratic process in the future. Mr. Elsenheimer, along with all the besieged township officials and their families, and the community members who bravely spoke up... they are all my heroes.
In that movie, I believe the predator, wounded and realizing his failure, self-destructs. Hopefully, Mr. Stoepker will simply discover a new sport with which to amuse himself that is not so cruel and inhumane. May I suggest badminton?

Amy Kerr Hardin • Acme Township

Different view of Lyme
Mr Ruble’s insightful and eloquent letter in the May 26 Northern Express Weekly deserves commendation as one of the best brief accounts of the Lyme disease topic that I have read.
As a medical director for a downstate local health department (Saginaw County), I have seen firsthand the consequences of an overzealous affinity to the diagnosis of “chronic” lyme disease. I have also predicted that a grass-roots attempt by well-intentioned individuals to alter the current case definition of Lyme disease will be forthcoming by those so convinced of its under diagnosis and reporting.
Letters like his help portray a balanced view of a controversial topic, as do the articles he has suggested.

Neill D, Varner, DO, MPH


Unsustainable economy
The success of the consumer economy in the U.S., which the developing world is attempting to emulate, depends on more and more people buying more and more things.
This economy depends on three elements which doom it to failure: a growing population, a growing debt, and diminishing resources. The economic theory which guides our economy seems to offer no other way to share the wealth of the planet than by this process in which we just use it up.
Yet the health of the environment cannot stand more huge, populous nations with consumer economies similar to the U.S.
Overpopulation, the end of cheap energy, and the poisoning of our atmosphere are either upon us or in sight. Al Gore has done more than almost anyone else to call our attention to the fact that our way of life is not sustainable.
On the other hand, many leaders dare not speak anything less than hopefully about the future. That the world is already overpopulated is one of the most forbidden of all topics.
People have faith that things will go on pretty much as they have; putting their faith in the goverment, the free market, private enterprise, human ingenuity, science and technology, and finally, in God.
There have been economists and ecologists who have warned about the unsustainability of our lifestyle. We have rarely known who our prophets are, believing them usually to be without honor in their own time and place.

R.E. Reinert • Northport

 
Monday, June 2, 2008

Letters 6/2/08

Letters Tax cuts cost jobs
Our politicians are using their kidneys instead of their brains. Look at the latest example.
A large number of our politicians want to eliminate our state taxes on gasoline during the summer to promote tourism.
What! Do tourists come only in the summer? Now do you call that a solution? I call it “They are using their kidneys again.“
If they keep cutting taxes, how will we repair our roads so the tourists can drive to Northern Michigan? Who will pay to keep our roads free of snow so the tourists can come during the winter? Who will pay for the police and deputies to enforce the laws to keep us safe?
TAX CUTS COST JOBS
And to top it off, not too long ago these same politicians were extolling the wonderful power of the free market to solve all our problems.
What’s wrong? Don’t they like the free market’s solution to our energy problem?

Richard R. Riker • Mackinaw City

Lyme racket?
Anne Stanton’s recent piece on Lyme disease was welcome for the fact that it warns us of a potential danger as we venture outdoors this spring. But I am surprised at her entirely uncritical treatment of the “Lyme-literate” physicians and of the whole idea of chronic Lyme disease.
Just last year Forbes magazine ran a fairly interesting article on this matter of which Stanton seems entirely unaware.
Chronic Lyme disease may exist, but it’s far from clear that it does. And patients are not the final word on whether it does: patients know they have symptoms; they don’t know whether they are infected with Borrelia burgdorferi.
And vaguely described “test results” don’t help the reader much. There are a lot of questionable lab practices out there -- the CDC in fact warned against the possible prevalence of false positive results for Lyme in 2005. When Stanton tells us someone has tested positive for Lyme, what test are we talking about? Is it one that actually works? Is it an approved test? If not, how do we know it works?
And anyone using colloidal silver for Lyme has to be treated with a bit of skepticism, no? What next? Crystals? Magnets? Mild electric shock?
And the prolonged use of antibiotics this article describes has already been subject to fraud judgments in Michigan and elsewhere, has it not?
I can’t speak to all the cases described in Stanton’s article, but I can’t help but wonder: Wasn’t any research done for this piece? Don’t you think that the legitimate science on this disease--there is a fair deal out there -- deserves a bit of notice?

Oran Kelley • TC



Sewer blues
The article by Anne Stanton titled “Northport’s Sewer Blues” was the best I have read -- well balanced and informative.
The initial push for a Northport sewer was predicated on false environmental information that stated the septic tanks in Northport were 85% failed or failing. The “factual” environmental issues remain on the court table after Judge Thomas Power stated the case has merit. All concerned environmentalists need to study the issues as presented by members of the Northport FORUM through our legal counsel. The issues are not over until they‘re over.
The original group of responsible citizens who extensively and exhaustively researched the Northport issues remain as one with the assistance of the FORUM members. The original group, comprised of one engineer, one economic expert, and several environmental experts, have consistently approached the Northport Council since the sewer‘s inception in an attempt to communicate concerns. Those concerns were never addressed by the council. Those concerns will remain before Judge Power as part of the FORUM‘s merit case.
Our Constitution was written with the intent of protecting the rights of every human being. One right is the right to have issues heard, discussed, understood, and to arrive at balanced solutions. Since the Northport Council set aside our constitutional process, it now becomes the responsibility of the FORUM members to uphold that process.
Judge Power realized that the case has merit and will be heard -- costly as it will be for both sides. The time has come for every Northport citizen to be heard now and in the next election. Join the FORUM and protect your rights!

Ronald J. Schobel • Suttons Bay
 
Monday, May 26, 2008

Letters 5/26/08

Letters Lyme & journalism
For those of us watching as the pablum of corporate journalism leaves readers in the dark about government, society and everyday life, Anne Stanton’s story on Lyme disease was a brilliant and hopeful study on not only the disease and its ramifications, but also a sign that there are still real journalists writing about subjects that matter.
Anne’s story clearly explained the issues involved in a complex topic and broke new ground by establishing the fact that the disease is a problem in Northern Michigan. Describing the difficulties faced by the victims and the medical community was insightful and fair reporting.
It’s an especially sad story because it involves people we know; and it’s an especially heartening story because it shed some light in the darkness by giving new hope to people who found themselves in especially difficult circumstances.

Joe Mielke • Kingsley

Pets also affected
I was not surprised to see the faces of several of my clients on the cover of this last issue (May 12-18). I have heard their stories and that of many others living with Lyme disease.
I care for their pets who are at an even greater risk of contracting Lyme disease. When I first moved here, 10 years ago from Florida, I was told by several area veterinarians that we don’t have Lyme disease in this area. I asked them how many dogs they had tested for the disease, and the answer was always none.
Obviously, if you are not looking for and testing for a disease, you will not find it. Lyme disease carrying ticks are here in Northern Michigan and a real threat to the people and pets who live here.
The heartworm test we use at our hospital also tests for Lyme disease. We routinely find dogs with antibodies to Lyme disease, some with symptoms and some without.
Thank you for your article; it is my hope it will increase the awareness to this disease, and to its prevention, which is by far the better choice than treatment.
I encourage pet parents to have their dogs vaccinated for Lyme disease; the vaccine is safe and very effective. Monthly flea and tick preventive is also very useful to protect pets and the people they live with. I often hear that my dog is not at risk because of this or that. The people you interviewed probably thought they were not at much of a risk either. Ticks can transmit many nasty and fatal diseases.
Thanks to Northern Express for transmitting knowledge and information to our community.

R. Craig Brakeman, DVM • TC
 
Monday, May 19, 2008

Letters 5/19/08

Letters Life with Lyme disease
This is to express my appreciation for the wonderful informative article on the frustration of individuals living with Lyme’s disease (May 12 by Anne Stanton).
In 1995 I came down with Lyme Disease and had a terrible time getting it diagnosed. It started with a very painful rash affecting first my ankles, then quickly spread up to my knees and was followed the next morning with flu-like symptoms.
I had to have my daughter drive me to Urgent Care where the doctor treated me with cortisone drugs. The rash and fever went away but joint pain increased and spread. I also witnessed episodes of dizziness and loss of hearing.
My doctor’s office tested me for rheumatoid arthritis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, etc., and gave me drugs that did nothing.
Finally, I was lucky to have a carpool member with family out East suggest I might have Lyme’s disease. Because I was a library media specialist, I did some research and found I had 20 some symptoms out of 60 or so listed. My doctor didn’t agree with the diagnosis, but after having negative results on all the tests, he was willing to prescribe 21 days of tetracycline and my symptoms went away. This was done within 30 days of the onslaught of the disease and so I have completely recovered. But, it was just luck.
I wasn’t tested for Lyme because my doctor felt the tests were inconclusive.
Since then, I have tried to raise awareness that Lyme does exist in this area but most medical personnel remain skeptical. When discussing the vaccine for my dog with the vet, she even said it didn’t exist in this area until I told her of my experience. Your article was so well researched and written, I am sure that it will be helpful in raising awareness for all in this community. Again, thank you.

Barb Berry • via email

A disaster for
Michigan‘s water future
The Great Lakes Compact adoption has passed the Michigan House and Senate, but it remains tie-barred to enactment of water legislation to implement it and set standards for Michigan’s future.
The Senate version, Substitute SB 860a and SB 212, is a disaster for Michigan’s water future, legalizing 25% of the flow of streams to be diminished by groundwater withdrawals from Michigan; a massive amount of water. It also continues to legalize “fish reductions” when fish, like water, are property of the state, a public resource held in public trust to be protected and managed for benefit of citizens.
The House version is a little better, but still not satisfactory, because of these two primary issues, and because there is little public notice, opportunity for hearings, or comment on water withdrawals in Michigan.
It is URGENT that everyone who can contact Senator Birkholz and Rep. Rebekah Warren, telling them to not compromise these principles and to not adopt legislation until these principles have been addressed.
Neither the Senate or House version should be adopted until this occurs.
Please oppose Senate and demand additions that strengthen the House version before it passes.
-- Rep. Rebekah Warren, 517-373-2577
-- Sen. Patricia Birkholz,
517-373-3447
-- Sen. Michelle McManus,
517-373-1725
-- Sen. Jason Allen, 517-373-2413
-- Rep. Howard Walker, 517-373-1766
--Rep. David Palsrok, 517-373-0825

Jim Olson • TC
(Jim Olson is an attorney specializing in the defense of environmental resources.)

Who‘s to blame?
 
Monday, May 12, 2008

Letters 5/12/08

Letters Double standard
Quite interesting, the North Carolina Republican Party is airing attack ads on two Democrats who are running for office because they support Barack Obama, who went to Reverend Wright‘s church. Apparently, Wright‘s sermons saying that God condemns America for its acts and punished America in the 9/11 attacks are very radical.
Does anyone recall the same outrage when Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, talked about 9/11? He stated: “Americans have allowed rampant secularism, the occult, permitted abortions, and legislated prayer out of our schools. So God Almighty is lifting his protection from us.“ The acceptance of homosexuality, Robertson says, could result in hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist’s bombs, and possibly a meteor striking the earth.
Please remind me if the Republican Party made a similar outcry about Jerry Falwell. “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians, ... the ACLU, People For the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularize America - I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this [terrorist attack] happen.‘“
Jerry Falwell also said that AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals.
In fairness to the above preachers, they based their points of view on an early prophetic worldview which explains suffering as punishment for sin. Since all three are using same prophetic world view, why is only Rev. Wright being attacked by the Republicans? Why hasn’t the media gone after Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell like it has about Reverend Wright?
Of course, we can explain the attack ads by the North Carolina Republican Party by the mastermind of wedge issues, Karl Rove, an agnostic, who has successfully used divisive issue to motivate the Christian conservatives to vote for their candidate. Perhaps the Republican Party uses a double standard!

Ronald Marshall • Petoskey
 
Monday, May 5, 2008

Letters 5/5/08

Letters Republicans Gone Wild
The greatest myth perpetrated this election cycle is that the nasty, bitter Democratic presidential campaign will leave the party divided this fall. Sure, supporters of the losing candidate will be angry and disappointed and may sulk a bit, but any notion they will go for Sen. John McCain in November is Republican fantasyland.
When the Democrats leave Denver in August, their presidential nominee will have a double-digit lead and the “battle” over lapel pins and Bosnian snipers won’t even be a blip on the voter radar honed in on Iraq, the economy and eight years of Republicans Gone Wild.
No matter how many times McCain says “my friends,” he will have few of them among general election voters when they give unbridled attention to his position on issues they care about.
Soaring gas prices, stagnant wages and the housing collapse have our economy in tatters, and McCain concedes this isn’t his strong suit. Our failing economy is one of the casualties of the Iraq War that McCain continues to strongly support. At long last, the media are beginning to ask some hard questions about the cost of the war.
As has been pointed out numerous times, Iraq is the first major war that this country has fought by transferring the entire cost to future generations through government debt. President Bush never proposed raising taxes to pay for the war. Worse, in 2003 he substantially cut taxes, unprecedented in war time.
Expect more of the same from a McCain administration. McCain has endorsed tax cuts that would cost more than $300 billion a year, including reduction of the corporate income tax from 34% to 25%. And he wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, another $110 billion.
A constant worry to families across America is our deteriorating health care system where rising costs leave nearly 50 million with no insurance coverage and millions more underinsured. The current system cherry-picks the healthy and tells those with chronic diseases to get lost.
McCain says he would give people with preexisting conditions “an extra tax credit” to help pay for insurance funded by savings in the Medicaid program. Where does McCain think the Medicaid savings will come from? Does he mean cutting benefits to poor people who depend on Medicaid for health care? Or from middle-class families who rely on Medicaid to pay for nursing home care?
Real issues like these keep people awake at night, and only the Democrats offer real solutions. I think I’m really going to enjoy the fall campaign.

Victor Kamber • via email

 
Monday, April 28, 2008

Letters 4/28/08

Letters History of a disaster
Anyone who has ever canoed, fished or hiked in the Jordan River Valley knows it is one of the last pristine wild areas in Northern Michigan.  The proposed deep-injection wells in Alba could threaten to change that.
Cement kiln dust (CKD), when mixed with water, becomes a toxic,  bleach-like soup, releasing large amounts of mercury, arsenic and other contaminants.  The State, DEQ, and developers have known for over 20 years that ground water was mixing with CKD from the former Penn-Dixie cement plant and leaching its poisons into Little Traverse Bay.  Their solution?  Build luxury homes and a golf course over the piles and hope no one would notice.  CMS Energy was one of the developing partners.
The toxic leachates entered Little Traverse Bay.  East Park was closed.  The EPA, in 2005, ordered CMS to isolate, contain or remove the CKD piles to eliminate groundwater contamination.  Such containment would necessitate digging up the golf course.  CMS says it‘s too expensive.  Their solution?  Allow the groundwater to become contaminated, then collect a small percentage of it (the rest is still flowing into the bay), transport it to Alba, a community with far fewer economic resources, and once again bury the problem.  That‘s 135,000 gallons shipped by tanker trucks on hilly country roads every day for the next 10-20 years -- the potential for transport problems are reason enough to oppose the well.
And what if the leachate doesn‘t stay buried?  These wells have an 8% malfunction rate.  When a deep-injection well in Romulus, MI failed, the company responsible for its maintenance vanished, leaving the community to clean up the mess.
Do we want to risk poisoning the Jordan River or the drinking water of area residents?  Do we want to continue to allow leachate to flow into Little Traverse Bay?  The CKD piles should be removed, not dumped in another community, possibly contaminating another watershed.  Join with Friends of the Jordan and Star Township in opposing the deep-injection wells and protect our water.

          Anne Zukowski • Charlevoix

Rising food costs
How crazy our policy makers have become.  Food costs as well as other commodities across the spectrum have gone through the roof.  Starting in large part with our government‘s effort to appease the global warming crowd and burn corn ethanol in fuel tanks.  
The existence of global warming and certainly that which is man-made is highly debatable, but that’s another topic.  This ludicrous policy, by the law of supply and demand, has raised the cost of  basic food staples this country and others need to survive.  Without such, malnutrition, starvation, and the political unrest that follows shakes the foundation of governments and the world at large. The recent food riots in Egypt and elsewhere have only begun to surface.  We need to reverse this absurd policy immediately.   
Energy is readily available if those who want our country to be back in the Stone Age would allow many of the world’s great companies to go get it and put people back to work.  Those radical elements of our society that have prevented us from doing so dislike nearly all of our realistic options.  They don‘t like oil.  The don‘t like coal.  They don‘t like the incredibly clean nuclear.  They don‘t even like wind farms off the coast of one of their favorite spokesmen, the great senator from Massacheusetts, Mr. Ted Kennedy.  
To those who believe in such grave policy, please stop blaming big oil for rising fuel costs.  Don‘t blame your local grocer for rising food costs.  When the food riots become common and potentially spread throughout much of the world, look into a mirror and reflect as to who is truly to blame.  Seven dollar per pound burger is just around the corner. 

                        Brian Spencer • TC 
 
Monday, April 21, 2008

Letters 4/21/08

Letters Get informed
In their respective letters, Lisa Mai Shoemaker (“So childish,” April 7) and Gary Woodhams (“Cut the crap,” April 14) both show a detrimental level of cynicism toward our political process.
In her letter, Ms. Shoemaker fancies herself an “independent” and labels those who see a difference between Republicans and Democrats as “childish.” She tells readers that “nobody gives a damn” about their opinions.
A week later, Mr. Woodhams follows suit by openly mocking anyone who “swear[s] total allegiance to any political party” and even finds political jokes from coworkers insufferable.
Ms. Shoemaker laments that there are no “perfect” candidates and that no party can claim to have any “brains.” For his part, Mr. Woodhams rejects candidates Obama, Clinton, and McCain as being equally unsatisfactory.
In other words, Mr. Woodhams and Ms. Shoemaker would like us to think that they are somehow above the fray of politics, as if it were a pursuit only for simpletons and knuckle-draggers of the worst kind.
It is precisely this type of cynicism that degrades our political discourse instead of elevating it and, to borrow a phrase from Ms. Shoemaker, “makes me want to ralf.”
Cynicism of this kind is merely a transparent stand-in for doing actual political homework, and it prevents one from making an informed decision come election time.
The truth is our choices in the election booth do matter, and in this election cycle there is a lot at stake. Economic and foreign policy decisions, which profoundly affect us all, don’t just sprout out of the ground; they are made by the people we choose to make them, which means that now is not the time to plug our ears and scream, as Ms. Shoemaker would have us do, solely to dodge our civic responsibilities or to avoid “offensive” political commentary.
The president wields an enormous amount of power and influence. It is our job to pick one that will use it in the right way, and, despite what Mr. Woodhams would have us believe, there are significant ideological differences in the candidates. Furthermore, if Mr. Woodhams is right that lobbyists and special interests control Washington, it is only because we the people collectively sit back, throw up our hands, and let them.
An uninformed, cynical citizenry allows good politicians but bad leaders to seize the reigns of power. In the last few years, we have seen and felt the consequences of electing these types of people. But don’t blame it on them. We put them there.

Chip Corwin • Bellaire
 
Monday, April 14, 2008

Letters 4/14/08

Letters Cut the crap
I enjoyed reading Lisa Mai Shoemaker’s letter in the April 7 Northern Express (“So Childish”) and agree that the “Democrat/Republican crap” should just STOP. The partisanship has reached a ridiculous level.
I’m sick of receiving emails from friends/coworkers with political jokes that are word-for-word the same except for “Bush” appearing as one punch line and “Hillary” appearing as the next. Same joke, different parties/candidates/elected official.
If you honestly swear total allegiance to either political party, I have a bridge to sell you over the Boardman River. Both parties have made a mess of this country and neither party speaks for the average voter. Corporations, the rich, lobbyists and special interest groups have highjacked the political system and the rest of us are getting the shaft.
There may come a day when talk radio hosts, newspaper editorials and columnists and internet bloggers point out the problems with the behavior of both parties in an even-handed manner, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it.
To illustrate how broken the system has become, consider how much time, effort and money has been spent to determine the next president, and the best they can come up with are Obama, Clinton and McCain?

Gary Woodhams • TC

McCain‘s poor record
Your article about John McCain left out some important things about his history and thoughts about war. For if he was critical about Vietnam why can he flip-flop about Iraq? I respect the fact that he went to answer his country‘s need as a brave solder, but solders do not make leaders, only followers, and always cheer for their use of military might even when they‘re dead wrong about why it‘s needed.
Further, he is also a flip-flopper about torture, economics, ethics, lobbyist monies, and worse, he has a criminal past in being one of the Keating Five, who cheated the American taxpayer out of $1.4 trillion in the ‘80s. Why isn’t the press covering some of his “bad decisions,” as he put it, past screw-ups?
Where is the honesty in covering the truth about potential presidents? It sure didn’t happen with W; so are we ready for another incompetent, misguided and unethical leader? Look how worse off we all are now by W’s massive screwups; living in fear, over-burdened, everything is on edge, and not enjoying freedoms.
I wish Jesse Ventura was running, if he could. He put it right as to starting war a: “You would only go to war if you were willing to send your own son or daughter.”
Very wise words and where is that in McCain?

Bradford Krull • Glen Arbor
 
Monday, April 7, 2008

Letters 4/7/08

Letters Don‘t overdo it...
As I read your article on training women for the 28th Annual GT Bodybuilding Championship, and now that the competition is over, and as someone who treats those with eating issues, weight and fat phobia, and body hatred, I feel a responsibility to give voice to reason.
At any age, it is dangerous to have six percent body fat. In fact, science shows that anything less than 12 percent for a female can be dangerous. Low body fat can lead to what is called the “female athlete triad” in which there is a decrease in hormones, interruption of the menstrual cycle, and loss of bone mass. Osteoporosis can occur if one’s body fat is too low for too long. The same condition can occur when a woman is anorexic and her body goes into semi-starvation mode.
A certain amount of fat (at least 12 percent) is essential to normal, healthy functioning, as it‘s stored in bone marrow, organs, the central nervous system and muscles. Fat also regulates body temperature and cushions organs and tissues. For those of us who aren’t bodybuilders (and that’s most of us), 25-35 percent of this “essential fat” is normal, depending on your age. Studies show that women at the higher end of this range are healthiest over time and live longer.
To all those that just competed in the 28th GT Bodybuilding Contest, congratulations and now, eat up! Please.

Lisa Franseen, PhD

Bay Harbor syrup
It was pleasant to read Jennifer McKay’s thoughtful column on the proposed Alba well and to know of Tip of the Mitt’s continuing concerns for the health and welfare of the region.
And it is heartening to read Kevin Elsenheimer’s letter to Governor Granholm on the inadequacy of the safety bonding.
But it may also be fitting to remind people that there are 2.5 million tons of hazardous material buried under the Bay Harbor golf course -- material that turns into a burning syrup laden with mercury, lead, and arsenic when wetted by groundwater and by the additional thousands of gallons of irrigation water used on the golf course. And that poisonous syrup leaches into the environment – into the Bay, into upper aquifer layers – where it does, and will continue to do, harm.
An order was issued by the EPA over three years ago to remove, isolate, or contain those toxic materials. It hasn’t happened.
Since then, much attention has been focused on drilling a deep well in Alba to dispose of less than five percent of the toxic burden – a “solution” that risks contaminating the entire Jordan River valley, to boot.
Such an exercise, if carried out, would still leave over 95 percent of the problem untouched, an omission which would shortly involve the affected property owners, developers, the municipality, and the general public in grievous losses in land values, quality of life, health, and liability.
Isn’t it time to tackle the whole problem, as ordered years ago?

Jack Norris • via email
 
Monday, March 31, 2008

Letters 3/31/08

Letters Bring back dam power
I live on Boardman View Terrace within a reserve dedicated in our bicentennial year 1976, protected by public trust, and dedicated to be preserved forever within the Grand Traverse Natural Educational Reserve.
There are two hydroelectric dams within this reserve. The historical dam impoundments on the Boardman River have created high-quality wetland areas unique in the amount and species of fish and wildlife they sustain. Horribly, the entire ecosystem in a five-mile stretch of the river is in danger of being irreversibly damaged.
My constitutional rights are also being challenged by Grand Traverse County. They are attempting the largest land grab in Grand Traverse County history with their claim to the bottomlands exposed by drawing down the dams. There is a clear unclouded chain of title through plat maps titles, deeds and agreements to whom the exposed bottomlands are entitled.
Foreseeing the lack of supply and the demand projections for electricity, it doesn’t take long to realize the need for relicensing these historic dam facilities to generate electricity in the Boardman River Valley.
At a time when nearly every electric power company in Michigan needs a percentage of renewable power in its portfolio, and most are scrambling to meet the requirements, it defies all logic that Grand Traverse County has formed a committee to embark on what it calls the largest dam removal project in the country.
Many believe this issue should be explored and offered to the public as the largest historical dam restoration project in the country, with efficient hydro-electric generation across the state.

Bruce Carpenter • TC

Corrections
Hats off to the Crooked Lake Grill for winning the “Best Breakfast“ category in Emmet County, an honor that was inadvertantly omitted in our Best of Northern Michigan issue.
Also, apologies for the misspellings on the names of Jon Kitna and Jessie Jones.
 
 
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