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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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Letters 5/17/07

Letters Bad lesson for kids
On May 3, a group of fourth graders from Crystal Lake Elementary went to the State Capitol to learn about state government. On the way they discussed the budget impasse that will cost schools $125 per pupil retroactively.
As a demonstration, some students wore t-shirts that said, “-125.” It was not directed at either party, or branch of the government. It was meant to put faces to the numbers.
Sen. Michelle McManus responded in a most surprising way. She got mad. She phoned the superintendent and several school board members to express her anger, and then apparently contacted the capitol tour guide service to try to get the children banned from the capitol.
Is this how our state senator represents the people of her district? These power struggles are hurting our schools, our communities, and now our individual children.
Shame on you Senator McManus. Stop playing politics and get the job you were elected to do done.

Antoinette (Tiyi) Schippers
• Cadillac
Thursday, May 10, 2007

Letters 5/10/07

Letters Don‘t cut state services
An open letter to State Sen. Jason Allen and State Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer:
Daily we see news stories highlighting the shortfall in funding that our community has for schools, for prisons, for law enforcement, for environmental protection, for medical care and hospitals, for park maintenance and for social services.
When Republicans abolished the Single Business tax, Standard & Poors downgraded Michigan, and will downgrade us more, making it even more costly for Michigan. All because you have refused to find some sort of tax structure to fund our state’s needs!
Remember, tax cuts = service cuts. We have been cut to the bone. Find a service tax, an income tax increase -- something -- to allow for long term planning to get our state back on track. The negative publicity generated by your incalcitrance is hurting efforts to attract new business and to maintain tourism.
Just as our people willingly help those who suffer from the Katrina disasters, we are willing to help our state in its time of need. Lead us to invest in Michigan needs. Then, instead of putting Republican after your names, the people will put statesmen after them.

Gerald R. Klinefelter • Kewadin

Cut back on legislators
State Republicans don’t want to raise taxes; they want to cut spending. Spending on education, prisons, law enforcement, medical care, roads, etc. have been cut.
I think it is time to cut the salaries of our legislators and their staffs by 25% and eliminate their retirement, health insurance, expense accounts.
Maybe when they have to live like many people in our state do they will be able to solve our budget problem.

Richard R Riker • Mackinaw City

War & profits
To whom are we fighting against? How can we win over an imaginary enemy?
The U.S. war in Iraq has gone on unchecked long enough. It’s time for a change; throwing more money at the same failed strategy will only lead to more death and devastation without bringing Iraq any closer to stability and peace.
Maybe someone is making huge profits out of the war.

Kyo Takahashi • Roscommon

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Letters 5/3/07

Letters Support Islamic vets
When I was a boy in the south end of Dearborn there was no mosque in town, but many Islamic children, so their parents sent them to Baptist bible school. When I went into the Marine Corps during the Korean War, more than 30 Islamic American young men also went into the Marine Corps. Our country has nothing to fear and much to be proud of in our Islamic veterans.

Marshall Raftery • Brutus
Thursday, April 26, 2007

Letters 4/26/04

Letters American vs. Iraqi life...
By the time most of you read this, the shootings at VMI will have faded slightly from the media’s spotlight. As of 4/18 though, about 20 out of 30 minutes in my local 6:30 p.m. news was still devoted to the campus shootings. It’s horrific that someone could commit this campus shooting rampage. It’s also scary that NBC would immediately release the shooter’s deranged manifesto (complete with TWO NBC bugs marking the footage as an NBC exclusive) for the next sick attention-seeker to emulate.
Perhaps the scariest thing of all is that on the same day about 500 civilians were killed in one of the most violent days yet in Iraq... and the media barely covered ANY of it. I wonder if we’d still be stuck in Iraq if Americans valued Iraqi lives the same way they value their own children’s lives? I wonder if America’s attention span allows our society to comprehend the horrific carnage in Iraq that’s ... well... indirectly a result of our illegal / immoral invasion.
How ‘bout it war mongers out there? If you’ve ever supported the war, I think the time is right for you to volunteer to go to exciting places like Baghdad. You (few) non-hypocritical, right-wingers out there can help restore order, and bring democracy. Hurry though, before there’s another big story in the mainstream media. Then, if you get blown up bringing western democracy to the masses, it might just be another historical footnote – covered perfunctorily in the last five seconds of the evening news.

Scott Jones • Kalkaska

On a roll with cycling
I read with interest Kristi Kates’ April 12 article in the Northern Express on the future of bicycling. I agree wholeheartedly with her assessment of the need for more people riding bikes for more purposes, but I disagree with some of her vision of the future.
I don’t think bikes with “amazing lightness and aerodynamics,” nor bike facilities consisting of enclosed “transglide corridors” have much to do with the real future of bicycling. In terms of the bike, the future is here. This simple machine has changed very little in 100 years, and no matter whether it is made of carbon fiber, titanium or cheap steel, it is the most efficient form of transportation per energy input.
The real future, in my opinion, is re-engineering our cities to invite the bicyclist. It involves people on simple utilitarian bicycles riding along welcoming street right of ways, designed not only for bikes, but also for pedestrians, buses and autos. This future also involves a smaller footprint devoted to auto parking, and the removal of the barriers caused by unfriendly, auto dominated streets.
Bicycling provides an intimate connection to neighborhoods and neighbors. It is a green, healthy, and fun mode of transportation. The cities where biking currently works are not filled with carbon fiber bikes and transglide corridors. They are filled with single speed bikes pedaled by all kinds of people to every destination. They are prosperous, vibrant, human scaled communities. Please don’t make me ride my bicycle inside a plastic tube, even with a tailwind.
I agree very much with Ms. Kates’ ending sentence: “However we approach it, it’s time for the U.S. to catch up to many other parts of the world when it comes to eschewing our cars and finding other efficient methods of transportation – and bicycling is a great way to start.” If you are ready to give it a try, get involved this year in the 13th Annual Smart Commute Week, starting June 4. This Traverse City original is getting more popular every year – check it out at www.traversetrails.org. The future is now.

Bob Otwell • Executive Director
TART Trails, Inc.
Thursday, April 19, 2007

Letters 4/19/07

Letters Questionable questions
As of March 20, Grand Traverse County began to enforce an amended state law which makes it “illegal to sell any equipment, products or material specifically designed for the use in the preparation or smoking of a controlled substance, EVEN IF the item could be used for the preparation or smoking of tobacco” or other legal herbs.
Strangely, the statute does not contain a concise list of what constitutes such unlawful equipment; any “questionable” items are to be discussed at the prosecuting attorney’s discretion. While rolling papers and wooden pipes currently don’t fall into the “questionable” category, it should seem at least odd that theoretically they COULD be deemed illegal, due to the law’s ambiguous phrasing. Note that those being directly affected by this new legislation are local business owners and glass artists, and NOT those responsible for the production and traffic of drugs.
While drug use is certainly a serious problem in our area, we should question if there are better ways of tackling such issues without the need to suppress our citizens’ freedom of enterprise and artistic expression. Is enforcing this vague piece of legislation a good idea, or is there a more effective or constructive way of combating drug use in our county, as well as the availability of drugs per se?

Marcelo Betti • TC

Complicated issue
I found the article on Internet gambling by Rick Coates to be quite humorous (4/12). It shows that he did an amateur‘s amount of research on the subject, and has reported the few superficial facts he managed to scratch off the surface of an immensely more complicated issue than he gave it credit for.
If your publication is ever truly interested in this subject, please feel free to contact me at your convenience. I will be happy to send credentials; however, it has been my experience that most “journalists” these days are not interested in this story beyond the sound bite or the hype the headlines generate.

J. Todd • Administrator,
Association of Players,
Casinos and Webmasters

(Rick describes his personal experience with Internet gambling on page 12 of this issue. - ed.)

Women & pay levels
What’s going on over there at the Northern Express? In your recent feature “Best Blunders,” the Reader’s Choice logo leads one to believe that the 25 local “blunders” were selected by readers. It looks more like the work of your editorial team. Actually it looks like the work of Bill Thomas, since many of the listed blunders were related to stories originally reported by the Record Eagle.
And what was my big blunder? You inaccurately simplified a column I wrote for the Traverse City Business News, summarizing the Equal Pay for Equal Work legislation. The misleadingly titled bill would force employers to: make wage and salary decisions based on government-defined worker categories; fill out annual reports identifying staff by gender, race and national origin, then justify each worker‘s wage level; and classes in the art of negotiation would be provided by taxpayers, but only for women and girls.
This is all tied into the myth that women earn less than men, on average, due to widespread discrimination. A three year study of data from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Labor concludes that women do earn as much as men, or more, when they perform the same work for the same amount of time.
The study was done by Dr. Warren Farrell, the only man ever elected (three times) to the Board of the National Organization for Women. Farrell holds a PhD in American government and constitutional law, and has taught at the University of California, Georgetown University and Rutgers. In 1965 he was recognized by President Johnson as one of this country’s outstanding young educators. A few years ago he ran for Governor of California as a Democrat. He is not a right-wing extremist by any measure.
His vast studies have confirmed what is obvious to many: in choosing jobs, men are more likely to be motivated by money, especially when they have kids. Women are more likely to choose jobs offering safety, cleanliness and flexibility for better balance between home and work. Men put in more hours on the job, have more years of experience in their occupations, and are more willing to relocate for a promotion.
It looks like the Express is trying to carve out a hipsterdoodle image in the community, so I suggest you and your readers who are interested in the “pay gap” read a contemporary take on the issue: “Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap and What Women Can Do About It,” by Warren Farrell (listed as One of the Great Career Books of 2006 by U.S. News and World Reports). Dr. Farrell details 25 different factors that affect pay levels, and offers practical advice for women wishing to move up the income ladder.
In these days of the competitive global economy, one has to wonder why any company would hire men if they can get away with paying women 25% less.
Maybe you guys are on to something since the only men who work at the Northern Express are the owners, a contributing editor, and the only listed management (circulation) position.

Ron Jolly • TC

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Letters 4/12/07

Letters Teens & MySpace
Thank you for publishing the article on Internet bullying (3/22).
I have a girlfriend whose daughter was bullied online. She didn’t even have a MySpace account and was not allowed to access it, so she didn’t know that over the summer her so-called friends were sending out nasty grams in her name to other students.
Boy, did she get a shock when the new school year started. It has ruined her chances of having friends in high school.
It’s about time a lobby was started to make MySpace do some monitoring. They should have a delay for picture posting to allow nude photographs or semi-nude photographs to be removed.
Any teen using a MySpace account should have to have parent verification with a parent’s credit card and personal phone call from MySpace before that teen is allowed to use MySpace, and parents should get copies of all postings by email.

Bonnie Szydlowski • via email

Scandal & John Adams
I have to credit you on your presidential choices for “The Most Scandalous Presidents” editorial. I agree with most of the men you appointed to your list, except for #10, John Adams. When I read your reason as to why you chose him, “Just before leaving office, Adams created dozens of new judgeships by appointing judges loyal to his party,” I had to re-read that sentence. Now, Mr. Foster, I find it hard to believe that an intelligent newsman such as yourself could actually write something that appears to have been pilfered from Wikipedia.
Let me set the record straight for your incorrect statement.
According to Joseph J. Ellis, author of Passionate Sage, The Character and Legacy of John Adams, “On the evening of Tuesday, March 3, 1801, the outgoing president actually appointed only two minor officials in Pennsylvania and three lower court judges in the District of Columbia. That was all the official business he did.”
Adams made a few appointments, and none that would change newly elected President Thomas Jefferson’s political agenda. David McCullough, author of John Adams, writes, “But Adams’s court appointments particularly were given careful consideration. There were no frenzied rush to name ‘midnight judges,’ as portrayed by Jefferson and the Republican press. Most of the nominations for judges were made on February 20 (1801), the rest completed by February 24, more than a week in advance of the inauguration.”
McCullough also points out, “In fact, most all of the nominees were perfectly good choices and the Republicans (Jefferson’s party affiliation) opposed hardly any of them.”
Mr. Foster, let me give you a little advice. Next time you decide to write a scandalous and incitive historical account, however minor you may think it is, please make sure you check your facts and use credible sources. Even though John Adams may not be alive to defend himself, there are but a few people with enough knowledge of Adams to properly maintain his honor.

Beth Fisher • via email

(Beth, you got me. I plagiarized the Adams story from something I wrote 10 years ago. Also, I‘ve never heard of Wikipedia until now. Thanks for the info. -- G.F.)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Letters 4/5/07

Letters Lights, camera... cut!
After reading State Senator Jason Allen’s comment on the Michigan Film Incentive (3/29), I was left with a few questions:
1. If the state legislature supports a 20 percent refund of operating costs to an industry that provides mostly intermittent employment, why not a similar deal for employers willing to offer full-time employment with substantial benefits to Michigan residents, such as the beleaguered auto industry? If Michigan faces a fiscal crisis so terrible that the state is looking to again cut per-student funding to schools, wouldn’t our tax dollars be better spent on, oh, perhaps public education?
2. Why can’t the legislature provide such incentives for businesses and industries that address serious issues, like medical research, green energy, improved education or environmentally friendly transportation?
Admittedly I have liked Michigan’s notable films: “Roger and Me” (even if Moore left out a few key interviews), “Pets or Meat” (“Ah, Flint”) and “Escanaba in Da Moonlight” (Jeff Daniels’ script and performance were great). In fact, I like a lot of movies, but does our state government really need to play executive producer?
3. I thought Republicans were upset because the Hollywood elite and leftist artists are corrupting America. (I’m not saying they’re wrong; I worry every time Quentin Tarantino has a new release.) Isn’t that why Republicans oppose funding the National Endowment for the Arts?
What will Sen. Allen say if the dreaded Michael Moore produces a movie that qualifies for the Michigan Film Incentive?
During the Great Depression, Hollywood produced many uplifting movies like the Zeigfield Follies to improve the nation’s morale. Similarly the state legislature’s solution for troubled modern Michigan seems to be, “Let them eat popcorn.”

Kenneth Arbogast • Alden
Thursday, March 29, 2007

Letters 3/29/07

Letters The math mix-up
We lag behind most other countries in math literacy. We can’t decide how to teach it. And yet, after 50 years of research into the most effective ways to teach math, we know how: here’s the concept, here’s the technique, here’s what it’s good for, now practice. After you’re good at it, we’ll move on to the next concept or technique. Later we will talk about why it works. Eventually it becomes intuitive.
Some say the answer is a return to basics. But learning numbers and how to manipulate them (computation) is what you do before you tackle math (yes, including set theory), as learning the alphabet and some phonetics is what you do before you tackle reading and writing. We need the basics, but let’s not imagine we can stop there and compete in a world economy.
Why all of the fads? Secondary education is a big business, feeding at the public trough. The textbook industry, educational consultants, and trainers make money only if educational methodologies change. Is it any surprise that they are the advocates for the various teaching fads we’ve seen over the last decades? Did you know that there are new versions of math books every couple of years, and that states commission their own versions of math textbooks? That few kids ever use their textbooks to learn? Is it any wonder that good teachers are less than enthusiastic about all of this baloney?
High schools should use the cheap study guides sold in college bookstores instead. Teachers who can themselves pass math proficiency tests should be paid accordingly, from textbook savings. Parents should insist their kids do their homework, because otherwise they won’t learn. And school boards should stop being impressed by buzzwords, glitzy marketing campaigns, and promises of easy fixes.

Raechel Wright • Charlevoix

Layoffs at Northwest
Your article entitled “Airline Hell” (3/22) struck a chord with me but not in the way you’d expect. As a laid-off former employee of “Northworst Airlines” I can only imagine the hell that the travelling public has been put through since last November when all of the original employees were canned.
Believe it or not, customer service used to be the name of the game in that industry, what with all the airlines‘ pricing tactics basically matching each other; the only thing left was how our customers were treated.
I’m saddened but not surprised by the lack of feeling and/or empathy the gentleman in the article received. Our replacements were hired in at $8.94 an hour and though money shouldn’t be the end-all in dealing with your job and the public, I can’t stress enough the importance of a fair wage for a job well done. In this case, both were sadly underachieved. For myself and others in the industry it took years of public contact and on-the-job training as well as a “want” to do the job properly, efficiently, fairly, caringly and to get it right the first time.
The comment by the company mouthpiece was 100% wrong. Inexperience is exactly why people were disgruntled, and the only reason why it would ever take that long to re-book passengers onto a new flight, another airline or process their ticket so that they could make other travel arrangements and get on with their business. I can’t stress enough, you don’t lay off people with an average of 20 years or more, doing what they enjoy and dearly love, and get the same standard of employee at less than half the cost.
I’d like to thank you for listening to my ranting and hope that this may shed a tad bit of light on what’s become of 23 people with anywhere from six to 48 years of dedicated service that they truly thought would take them to higher highs, meeting new and interesting people and ultimately,.... into retirement.

Daniel O. Barnes • via email
Thursday, March 22, 2007

Letters 3/22/07

Letters More spiritual stuff
Compliments on the religion and spirituality issue, which surprised me by actually having a fair deal of sensible and interesting content.
I was especially interested in Bob Downes‘ essay on “The Spiritual Thing.”
I wanted to point out a couple of things regarding Buddhism. First, conditions in ancient India were probably not THAT much different than conditions in ancient Greek countryside. Some historians consider India to have been relatively rich in ancient times. Buddha’s compassion for the poor and weak was a response to the sort of social injustice and inequality that were pretty much universal in his day. And, to a lesser degree, in our own. So Buddhism’s seeming bleakness is probably not a response to particularly grinding conditions in India.
Second, your contention that Buddhism’s fundamental insight is a “bunch of malarkey” is a bit off the mark, I think. The fact that making the “disintegration of the self” the goal of life provides an unsatisfactory answer to the “meaning of life” question--that seems to be precisely the point. There is no good answer: there is no “point” to the human race. Buddhism isn’t trying to provide a new, unassailable answer to the meaning of life question--it’s trying to get you to stop asking the question, because there is no satisfactory answer.
And that, I think, is the wisdom that a non-Buddhist can take from Buddhism. I’m not interested in disintegrating my self, and I doubt I’ll ever be. In my opinion, integration is to be preferred to disintegration, on the whole. But Buddhism has a bit more to offer than your average “bunch of malarkey.”
This does not, however, extend to “fashion Buddhists.” Pretty much any malarkey is better than what I’ve heard from them! Enough to turn the Dalai Lama into a wrathful,
Old-Testament-style kinda guy one day, I bet!

Oran Kelley • TC

Spiritual direction
Robert Downes’ article on “The Spiritual Thing“ (March 8) was an interesting effort to clear up what spirituality means, but he got off track. Spirituality is basically an abiding intellectual interest in the truth about fundamental questions regarding life, death, consciousness, and/or the nature of the universe.
Spirituality focuses more on beliefs rather than values, but it includes thinking about value systems.
A spiritual leader is not the leader of ghosts; a spiritual leader is not a cheerleader trying to improve everybody’s “spirit.” A spiritual leader is someone who is recognized as knowing fundamental answers to the questions of human existence. Spirituality is knowledge-based.
Spirituality is not emotional. There are spiritual people get excited when they find an answer or find “enlightenment,” but there are also spiritual people who don’t. Some have the urge to “spread the word,” others prefer to keep their findings and beliefs to themselves.
Spirituality is a trait of anyone who constantly seeks answers to the deeper questions in life, including scientists and mythologists, teachers and story-tellers, theists and atheists, artists and day laborers, the rich and the poor. Non-spiritual people simply have little or no interest in answering the fundamental questions. There are a lot of non-spiritual people
around, including many who frequently go to a church, or temple, or mosque. And it’s okay to be non-spiritual. Most of us are on most days.
Mr. Downes’ maxim to “choose the Middle Way” is hardly a spiritual standard. It’s just a golden rule that can be used by spiritual and non-spiritual people alike.
A better spiritual ideal would be twofold: further the truth and support life. This motto is sort of a generalization of Christ’s motto to love God and love your neighbor, but it doesn’t raise the troublesome and tiresome questions about God or love, and it would provide direction for a lot of people don’t need God and don’t need love.

Robert Wendland • TC

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Letters 3/15/07

Letters Pathfinder parable
There once was a proud chicken farmer who had 144 good laying chickens. His farm was located on 22 acres of choice land, and had different buildings to house the different kinds of chickens. Once in a while a chicken would leave the yard and would wonder down the Path to the lake where the Cedars grow. A staff of employees kept track of the chickens and when one of them wondered down the Path, someone would always Find Her. The staff also kept track of the chickens on computers, making sure they all ate the right foods, therefore producing some of the finest eggs in the state of which the farmer and the community could be proud. They even chipped in and bought a vehicle to deliver the eggs.
After 30 years it was time for the farmer to retire. He wanted his chicken business to continue, as the town folk liked his finished product. He found a friend who had a large cattle farm and gave him the chicken business. He thought that if his friend could run a cattle farm, he certainly could run a chicken farm. For over three years the chicken farm needed a little help and the cattle farmer gladly assisted, using less than one percent of the cattle farm’s budget of $35 million. He felt the community needed these fine eggs.
But then something tragic happened. It became time for the cattle farmer to retire and someone new took over both businesses. Another three years went by before the new manager decided to get rid of the chickens, destroy the buildings and sell off the land to developers who planned to build condos, which meant money in his pocket.
The new manager kept all the chicken feed, computers, the vehicle and other equipment which the staff bought and paid for over the years. The staff was unhappy with the decision to eliminate the chicken business. They felt the cattle farmer was unfair in taking all the equipment which was paid for by staff members. They also felt the public needed to know how special the chickens were. Every day that went by was disturbing to the staff as the new manager was unreasonably harsh in his demands. Some say he knew how to run a cattle business but didn’t know didly about chickens.
I have been called “one of the unwashed masses” of Northern Michigan by the cattle farmer whom I have never met. According to him we all fall in that category. Please don’t be angry at him. He needs our prayers. We need to pray that his mind will be opened so that intelligence and smarts can filter in, and pray that his heart is open to love and understanding. When you go to church this week, remember the cattle farmer in your prayers.

Don Montie • Northport

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Letters 3/8/07

Letters Thanks so much for writing about issues that matter to citizens and of which they might never be aware unless they went through the nightmare of an insurance claims process due to severe injury or death of a family member (re: “Extreme Court“ series).
I have worked for many years as an advocate for the injured and disabled as well as families who have lost loved ones in civil wrongful death scenarios. This has always been a challenging environment for our teams that are committed to this work, but there has been such a dramatic shift over
the last 10 years in favor of profits over people, that the anguish and suffering of individuals and families are more incredible than ever before.
For example: Imagine, if you will, being a single parent of toddlers and suddenly being injured in an accident, then having the responsible insurance carrier “just say no” to your benefits application; you begin fighting your way through the legal system while trying to recover, only to be threatened by the local agencies to have your children removed from your home because you cannot care for them properly due to your injuries!
Such a situation and many other types of personal pain, financial disaster, and family pain are quite common due to callous denial of benefits. Today’s denial and “stalling” practices serve to compound damage upon an already suffering individual and family – and all because it has somehow become acceptable to “Just Say No” to paying benefits
that a policy holder has paid premiums for in good faith.
Interestingly, executive and defense attorney compensations have shot through the roof -- along with monthly premiums for coverage. Meanwhile, the modest $20/day replacement services benefit (which is to pay for such things as babysitters, housekeeping, snowplowing, lawn mowing, shopping, etc., while one is recovering from an auto accident) has stayed at the same daily rate for decades. And family members who are called upon to provide sophisticated therapies and care for their severely injured loved ones at home are stone-walled into accepting measly sums for performing professional-level work, and often lose their own jobs while they are caregiving – many face losing their homes while the legal process inches along only to provide a less than meaningful resolution, if any at all.
All of this is not to say that every carrier is totally heartless, and those carriers who pay claims fairly and timely are to be loudly applauded; however, far too many have not only become soulless but are enjoying a sense of personal ownership of the funds that we all pay to provide our families with some protection in the event of personal calamity. I do not understand the world we live in today at times and can only pray that this current extreme culture that glorifies profits at the expense of the health and welfare of innocent families and children finally comes to an end.
Anne, please keep writing on these and related topics!

Sharon Neumann • paralegal

Party on...
For many years now the news media have twisted and slanted their coverage of me and or my Jobbienooner website, mostly to the negative. It used to hurt me and cause me grief; I’ve learned to accept it and feed vicariously from it’s bountiful trough.
However, in this case, after reading your article (“A Lake of Trouble“), you don’t appear to be slanting or twisting.
Most often polarised opponents can’t/won’t/don’t ever look to “see“ any side other than their own. Hence most conflicts never resolve, but rather, produce endless futile battles until one conquers the other. Usually a lot of people get hurt.
From the outside looking in, if the riparians want only to “win“ on Torch Lake, they are going to lose. If they want something better than a loss, then that can only equal a “win-win.“
I sympathize with the lakefront homeowners’ wish for “their” (unfortunately for them, public) lake to not become a toilet.
Close it for ecoli, it closes for the riparians too. There‘s no simple answer, but quit thinking of new laws and think effective enforcement of existing ones.

Pete Arsenault

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Letters 3/1/07

Letters No problem on Torch
I just read the article “A Lake of Trouble” in your Feb. 15-21 issue.
I have a completely different perspective from my many trips out to this sandbar over the years. I have been pleasantly surprised by the lack of the sort of behavior that was reported in this article. When I have been there I have made many comments to friends that have gone with me, about how generally well behaved the people are that are out there. I know that I am not witness to all that goes on, but from my vantage point (I always try to anchor my boat in the middle of the main part of the sandbar), I have not seen any of the instances as described.
I am closing in on 50 years old and am getting more and more conservative by the year and have no reason to defend any bad behavior if I had observed it.
It may be that there are some hidden agendas involved in planting some exaggerated or even completely false stories.

Kevin Townsend • Gaylord

Need more enforcement
Thank you to Anne Stanton for preparing a balanced journalistic piece (re: “Lake of Trouble”).
The Kalkaska County Prosecutor’s office chose not to pursue sexual assault charges last summer, yet seems to feel that some of the residents around Torch Lake might be overly sensitive to annoying behavior on the part of lake visitors, and that some residents would just like to keep the lake to themselves. But, the county prosecutor was also quoted to say: “I will bet, by the end of the day of a busy Saturday, the water in the knee-deep water is not safe. You could probably get the area restricted with a health department ruling rather than on the basis of morality.”
Here is an alternative perspective.I don’t know of a single reasonable Torch Lake property owner, myself included, who wants to “...keep Torch Lake to themselves.” That is neither a realistic or reasonable position. I do know a large number of property owners, myself included, who would like to see the State (DNR and DEQ) and local law enforcement agencies become measurably more proactive and effective, on a consistent and relevant basis, in bringing the current, much talked about Torch Lake situation under control. This seems to me to be a reasonable position.
Frankly, it appears these agencies are currently more reactive (perhaps dismissive?) and ineffective than they are proactive and effective. Suggesting that college students earn academic credit to collect and provide water samples to the health department; the absolutely astonishing unwillingness to prosecute the sexual assault mentioned in the piece; and the violence that, according to the county prosecutor, had been brewing all day between occupants of two boats (where was law enforcement all day?) seems to suggest that appropriate law enforcement agencies may have a greater interest in avoiding and/or deflecting responsibility, than in taking proactive and effective corrective action. Perhaps if somebody was to trespass on their property; deposit waste and filth on their property; relieve themselves in their front yard; and heaven forbid, rip the bathing suit top off of one of their female family members and pin her to a wall; and then be threatened with bodily harm when they asked the
offenders to cease, desist, and leave, they just might adopt a somewhat more proactive approach.
For crying out loud; not only did a
sexual assault occur, but somebody nearly bled to death out on the sandbar last year, and both incidents were the direct result of this ongoing, escalating, and out of control situation!
There is a performance evaluation adage that says, “Do not confuse effort with effectiveness.” Right now, I don’t see much of either from state and local governmental agencies. And the longer they wait to act, the more difficult the resolution.

Jack Graham • Rapid City
Idle observations

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Letters 2/22/07

Letters American Idle
Are you looking for a way to help stem global warming? Then STOP IDLING!
Contrary to popular belief, idling isn’t an effective way to warm up your vehicle, even in cold weather. The best way to warm it up is to drive it. In fact, with today’s engines, you need no more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days before you start to drive.
The notion that idling is good for your vehicle is passé – in fact, it hasn’t been the right thing to do since the advent of electronic engines. The truth is that excessive idling can damage the engine. Why? An idling engine isn’t operating at its peak temperature, meaning that fuel doesn’t undergo complete combustion. This leaves fuel residues that can condense on cylinder walls, where they can contaminate oil and damage engine parts.
Fuel residues are often deposited on sparkplugs. As you spend more time idling, the average temperature of the sparkplug drops. This makes the plug get dirty more quickly, which can increase fuel consumption by four to five percent.
Excessive idling also lets water condense in the exhaust. This can lead to corrosion and reduce the life of the exhaust system. Idling warms only the engine – not the wheel bearings, steering, suspension, transmission and tires. These parts also need to be warmed up, and the only way to do that is to drive the vehicle.
But isn’t restarting hard on the engine? Studies show that frequent restarting has little impact on engine parts such as the battery and starter motor. Turn off the engine? Yes. More than 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine.
Save gas and money and the environment. Imagine if Americans across the land stopped idling. Let’s go Traverse City. Help stop global warming.

Gary Klinga • TC

Telling it like it is
I want the troops home, not in two years or six months, but now. I want a President that will order the troops home the minute he or she becomes President, and order the whole Bush administration tried for war crimes.
The whole war was one huge lie after lie after lie. Thousands are dead and thousands are missing arms, legs and eyes. And many will spend their lives in wheelchairs or on beds waiting for death because of monsters who knew a President in a war gets a second term.

Marshall Raftery • Brutus

Save Leland‘s big tree
Many of you have already heard about the Champion Cottonwood in Leland. The Leelanau County Road Commission decided to take this amazing tree down this winter, but a few of us got together and convinced them to at least have a few experts weigh in on the subject. We raised $2,500 really quickly and paid for three arborists to examine the tree.
The news was good – the tree was healthy. It does need quite a bit of pruning and cabling. And this work must be completed by March 31.
The road commission and our group have an agreement now regarding the maintenance of the tree. The road commission will be hiring the famed Bartlett’s Tree Company (they take care of the Queen of England’s trees) to do the necessary work and the yearly inspections. We must provide the money for all this - $6,000-7,000 to start, plus the yearly inspections and maintenance. Not a small sum!
We have formed a 501 (c) 3, and are starting to really raise money. We already have donations and pledges amounting to $3,700 – which is fantastic. We are hoping to raise $10,000 so that we have a fund ready for the next few years of inspections and maintenance. We do have a deadline – since the work needs to be completed before spring arrives – so we have to move quickly.
Beth Richter at Huntington Bank is running our donations. If you live in the area, you can just drop off a check at the bank or you can send it to PO Box 596, Leland, MI 49654 (checks can be made out to Leland Champion Tree Fund). A donation can is also available at Leland Mercantile in downtown Leland.
Thank you so much for your help – just think – you are saving a little bit of history, and this spring, the Leland skyline will be intact because of your donation. There is more information and links to recent articles at www.lelandchampiontree.com

Kate Vilter
Leland Champion Tree Group
Thursday, February 15, 2007

Letters 2/15/07

Letters Aid to the Big Three
I read an article recently about the Big Three auto makers asking Washington for aid, and that the politicians were very cool to the idea.
Well, I think we should give them aid.
First, because we have had seven major increases in the price of crude oil during the last 50 years and they “couldn’t see it coming“ ($3 gasoline), we should give them a corneal transplant to improve their vision.
Second, because they have been so supportive of fuel efficiency and exhaust emissions legislation, we should give them a cranial implant.
Maybe with some brains they would be able to understand what has happened, what is happening, and what is going to happen.

Richard R. Riker • Mackinaw City

Pathfinder finds a way
As a parent of an Interlochen Pathfinder student, I wanted to write to say that I was filled with immense hope and excitement last week.
After Interlochen Arts Academy announced that it would sever its relationship with Pathfinder, a group of parents, alumnae and staff met the very next day.
That group unanimously decided that Interlochen’s decision does not mean that Pathfinder will close. It is now open, and the plan is to keep the school open in September. Even more than that, the group is working to ensure the school’s long-term viability so that the school can be more accessible to more people.
Although it’s premature to discuss the details, I just wanted to say that this group has already marshaled excellent leadership, enthusiastic volunteers, and strong backing. I look forward to keeping Pathfinder open, thriving, and, really, just a great place to learn.
Pathfinder lives. A school this good is very hard to kill.

Rochelle Rollenhagen • Bear Lake

Corporate tax dodge?
Kenneth Braun’s opinion that Michigan would be best served by not replacing the single business tax is based on the findings of the Tax Foundation (re: “From Worst to First,“ 2/1).
This foundation cited Oregon’s low corporate taxes as the primary reason for a healthy economy there. Oregon’s Center for Public Policy readily disagrees: “The Tax Foundation’s misguided approach – equating low taxes with a better business tax climate and ignoring the quantity and quality of public services provided by the states – is not supported by research.”
Mr. Baum and the conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy think that we would not have lost so many jobs in Michigan if we hadn’t had the Single Business Tax the past several years. Oh really? Do you think the collapse of the automotive industry in Michigan would have been prevented by the lack of said tax? Would Phizer not have let go of 2000-plus employees if we didn’t have a Single Business Tax?
This fallacy put aside, what really is the agenda of the Mackinac Center?

Chris McElroy • Ann Arbor
Thursday, February 8, 2007

Letters 2/8/07

Letters Hidden cost of no taxes
I wonder how many members of the Mackinac Center staff hunt, fish or get out and enjoy the great outdoors of the Great Lakes State? Their “anti-tax” message leaves hunters like you and I holding the bag while their wealthy supporters laugh all the way to the bank. (re: “From Worst to First - The Best Business Tax Is None,“ Express 2/1.)
You see, our deer tags will likely increase to $30 to offset the huge loss in revenues due to the elimination of Single Business Tax. Furthermore, conservation officers (who are already stretched to the limit) face the prospect of covering even larger areas, or elimination altogether.
Do you hunt public land? These guys are all about “privatizing.” Can you afford the fees of private hunt clubs? If they get their way, many public lands would be sold off!
The Mackinac Center seems to forget that these public lands support the number two industry in our state, tourism!
Those of us who enjoy fishing and are disgusted by the presence of invasive species fouling our watershed, did you know the Mackinac Center is OPPOSED to the great State of Michigan’s attempt to control this growing problem through ballast discharge regulations in shipping? In a recent Lansing State Journal op-ed, Russ Harding,”Senior Environmental Advisor” of the Mackinac Center, condemns Michigan’s “regulations”and suggests we hold off and “study the issue further.” Hmmm, thats what Mackinac Center said about global warming too!
Who are the big donors behind all the whitewash of the Mackinac Center? Now THAT would be a good article for your fine publication. Or at least a good letter to the editor!

Lyle Birchman • Portland, MI
Dutch treat
A Dutch industrialist operates a factory that has such potential negative environmental consequences that the government says, “enough is enough.”
This government acts in its citizens‘ best interest and buys out the rich industrialist with cash just to make him go away. With pockets bulging with money he seeks a new location for his greed machine. Of course the land of opportunity looks good, America is always open to new business regardless of history. But where in America can someone who has been kicked out of their own country for operating a pollution nightmare go?
Well, if your operation requires lax governmental oversight with few regulations. You need a state where the DEQ is underfunded and overworked, and there is an existing lobby group that spends lavishly to buy legislators (Farm Bureau). And especially if you need a zillion gallons of fresh water to flush the manure out of your factory farm barns. Well, Michigan, The Great Lakes State, is the place to set up shop.
We are indeed the home to a growing base of factory farms that have been regulated out of most other states. If this shocks you, please do some research at the Michigan Sierra Club website www.michigan.sierraclub.org. Then make some calls to state senators and representatives Allen, McManus, Walker, and Palsrock, and let them know we don’t want industrial farms making a mockery of our fine state. We want to encourage farming for sure, but these operations are industrial applications taking advantage of loopholes in agricultural regulations. We can say no to factory farms in Michigan, but your voice must be heard.

Tom Karas • Interlochen