Letters

Letters 09-15-2014

Stop The Games On Campus

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

The Truth About Fatbikes

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

Man Has Environmental Responsibility

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

The Bush & Obama Facts

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

Ban Pesticides

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

Respect for Presidents?

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


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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Letters 10/18/07

Letters Go, Bioneers!
The sixth Great Lakes Bioneers Conference, coming up this weekend, Oct. 19 - 21, covers an unusual variety of topics and a diversity of activities. Highlights of this year’s conference include plenary speakers, broadcast via satellite live from the main conference in California who will be covering topics such as the latest advances in green chemistry: traditional knowledge from an Alaskan indigenous leader and how it can heal and transform humanity: Eve Ensler speaking about women’s issues; healing spiritually and environmentally from the effects of war; and much more!
Our local programming includes instructions on how to construct a green roof, building social justice for Michigan’s immigrant/migrant population, how the local food movement is reaching out to folks across the economic spectrum; Native American efforts to inventory and monitor the Emerald Ash Borer; and more.
Our keynote speaker for Sunday morning is especially interesting. She is Laurie White, a filmmaker from Ann Arbor, who has produced a film called Refusing to be Enemies which will be shown in the Milliken Auditorium following her address. The film follows a group of women that call themselves Zeitouna; 6 Arab and 6 Jewish, who undertake a dialogue process over a four year period, culminating in a trip to the Middle East together. Laurie has worked with Michael Moore in the past; she was the co-producer of Roger and Me. To see more about the film, and Laurie’s work, you could check out her web site at : www.zeitounamovie.org
The Bioneers movement is all-encompassing, embracing the philosophy that it’s all connected: the issues and problems as well as the solutions. This is a terrific opportunity to build networks to continue the fight against despair with a focus on practical solutions. The food’s great too! For more information, go to
www.glbconference.org.

Sally Van Vleck• TC
 
Thursday, October 11, 2007

Letters 10/11/07

Letters Foie Gras Controversy
I read the article about the Andante Restaurant in Petoskey, Michigan the last week in September while vacationing in Traverse City. I was shocked with the article promoting Foie Gras at the Andante Restaurant.
Foie Gras is banned in the state of California, the city of Chicago, and more than a dozen countries in Europe based on the grounds of animal cruelty.
For a progressive publication like the Northern Express, I was also disappointed that your paper and Andante restaurant promote Foie Gras. It is a deeply disturbing animal cruelty practice to obtain this food delicacy.
I hope Traverse City is the next city along with surrounding northern Michigan cities to ban Foie Gras.
For more information, here is a weblink about other Foie Gras bans: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/04/27/national/main1550028.shtml

Beth Bechtel • Haslett

(Northern Express doesn‘t promote any restaurant items in particular; we are merely reporting on what those restaurants have to offer. Express of course does not support nor condone any means of animal cruelty. Keep an eye out for Rick Coates‘ extensive report on the Foie Gras controversy in an upcoming issue. --Ed.)


 
Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Letters 10/03/07

Letters Slow Down, Would‘ja?
During the day I love to take my dog for a walk around Traverse City to get some exercise, sunlight and fresh air. But there is a big problem in our town with cyclists endangering pedestrians on the city sidewalks. I am getting very tired of going for a nice stroll and nearly being hit by a speeding cyclist several times during my walk. This is happening even when I stay off the TART trail and stick to sidewalks only.
I’d like to remind cyclists that the proper place for you to ride is either the TART trail or the street. The sidewalks are for pedestrians only. If you absolutely MUST ride your bike on the sidewalk, I’d like to ask you to please SLOW DOWN and ring a bell, yell, or make some kind of noise when you come up behind someone walking so that they have an opportunity to move out of the way. Most of you are whizzing by so fast and so close that if a pedestrian makes any arm movement or steps over just a bit they will be hit!
Max Wolf • TC

High Cost of Imports
Last week Mattel apologized to China for sending substandard and dangerous toys to American markets.
Why? The truth is, they had no choice. There is no other source for the toys they import. And Mattel is just the tip of the iceberg; we buy things too numerous to discuss from China. Everything from T-shirts to computer parts are made there and shipped to the US.
My wife and I tried in vain to avoid Chinese products for the first couple of years that we were parents, not wanting to support prison labor or the sweat shop practices that are well known to occur in China. We managed to find some items of clothing made in Indonesia, Pakistan and some South American countries. American goods were few and far between.
At this point I would like to introduce some additional information about our relationship with our “Most Favored Trading Partners”: the trade deficit with China in 2006 was, according to US government, $232.5 Billion dollars. That is how many more dollars we sent to them than we received.
At the end of 2005 the Chinese government held some 300 billion dollars in Treasury Bonds. Treasury bonds are, in simple terms, paper sold to cover debt incurred by our government. (Any appearance that we are buying the Chinese government our debt is a coincidence.)
Somewhere in the vicinity of 7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the US since 1980. “Real” income has dropped, depending on whose stats one uses, by between zero and 40%.
Now the other shoe falls!
Last week, while listening to the BBC News on IPR, I heard a story about the economic situation in the UK. They were discussing interest rates, inflation and the general state of things relative to the US sub-prime mortgage troubles. It seems that the only dim spot in the economy there is a very focused inflation. Much to the dismay of the economists, the only inflationary pressures were coming from Chinese imports! (Hear it?)
Whether it’s an epiphany or a conspiracy it would appear the Chinese have figured something out.
They have a monopoly on the manufacture of a lot of the things the world depends on. When you have a monopoly, there are no price controls imposed by pesky things like “competition,“ so it would appear that price increases are in our near future. And, if we make China angry, they may stop floating our national debt.
So, next time you are at the store wondering how they can make and sell toys, shirts, shoes, TVs, computers, etc.. so cheaply, remember, the truth is:
They can’t!
J. Grant • Mesick

The Scoop on the Pointe
Anne Stanton did a great job on the Petoskey Pointe story in the Sep. 27 issue of the Northern Express. It was the best background information about the project I have read yet!
During the early controversial public hearings, no mention of any dissent was reported by the local newspaper. The reporter only interviewed the project developers and the City Manager, and the public was given a biased account of what was taking place. My husband even called the reporter and asked if he was at the same meeting that we were at. No quotes were given in the stories by anyone who was not in favor of the project. Not until a group of citizens provided over 900 signatures for a ballot referendum.
The referendum lost by as many Bay Harbor absentee votes as those who received absentee voter applications from the developer and his supporters. Many of the Petoskey residents believed the project to be all that was promised, including a two year completion date. The referendum did not hold up the project. The financing and the purchase of the bank property had not been completed at that time and still is not totally secured, even though we were told they were “ready to start.” The firm is still “arranging financing from New York City lenders who are getting the funds from Europe and Hong Kong.”
The development will not be a “hotel with condo options,” but condos with rental options and no hotel amenities. A “public open area” will also be controlled by the owners.
Tourists enjoy idly browsing the windows of the shops in the “Gaslight District” and will not come to Petoskey to shop in an indoor shopping mall that shadows the downtown area and blocks the beautiful view of Little Traverse Bay for the entire city. They can shop at an indoor mall anywhere else downstate.
Ms. Stanton quotes the city manager stating the project will provide “badly needed parking.” Actually, it will provide fewer parking spaces than before and will be underground for local shoppers. The project will be seven stories when nothing in Petoskey is higher than three stories and will be visible for miles away, similar to the Grand Traverse Resort in TC and the monster development in Destin, FL that the locals in the small “fishing village” despise.
The mayor and city manager have given “every indication” the project is still “a go”, even though they “haven’t seen anything in writing”. We have heard this for more than two years now. The mayor may “not care what the dates are” but the locals do. I don’t think the hole in the ground is any better than what was there and it is definitely more dangerous.
Project supporters want the citizens to “be patient while it works out” while the new Odawa Casino was started and completed in much less time than it took to dig the hole in the center of town.
The citizens of Petoskey are paying for the upgrading of utilities near the project. Downstate, cities have the developers pay for utility and road upgrades for their private projects. “The city gave the developer its parking lot for which it originally paid $20,000 and is now worth $970,000” doesn’t sound like a wise investment to me!
There are still too many problems and unanswered questions for me to be “confident people will be happy,” like the mayor of Petoskey.

Carolyn Bourland • Petoskey


Correction: In Rick Coates‘ RestauranTour article on Casino Cuisine, the correct name of the tribe is “The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians,” and the wine tastings in Odawa Casino‘s Sage restaurant are on Saturdays from 3-5 pm.


 
Thursday, September 27, 2007

Letters 9/27/07

Letters Keep Space For Peace
I’m writing this letter to make people aware that October 4-13, 2007 is the international Keep Space For Peace Week. We need to educate ourselves about a deadly program our government has been involved in ever since the Reagan years - namely, Star Wars. The Bush administration sells this Star Wars mission as “defensive.“ But this is only a way to get public support for the deployment of offensive systems in space. Our government is spending billions of dollars so they can attack anywhere on earth. These weapons in space will most likely be nuclear powered. NASA is planning for nuclear powered bases on the moon and sending nuclear powered rockets to Mars. It will only take one nuclear accident in space to contaminate the entire planet.
Peggy Fry • TC

A Fool And His...
Fool me once - shame on you. Fool me twice - shame on me. We were to believe Colin Powell and now we are to believe General Petraeus.
Never mind about the funny math. I can do the math myself and it doesn’t compute.
Margaret Forgione • TC
 
Thursday, September 20, 2007

Letters 9/20/07

Letters I Want My Farmers Market
I arrived at the Traverse City Farmer’s Market shortly after noon on Saturday, and I was turned away from some of the booths because the city is enforcing the market’s scheduled hours, which end at noon.
How unfortunate. Our local farmers maintain open space around our city, decrease our carbon footprint, and provide us with healthy, locally grown produce that is the backbone of a healthy diet.
The city should support our esteemed farmers by expanding the hours of the markets, not by adopting a monochronic philosophy.
I hope the city can strive for flexibility as they consider the health of their citizens and the value of their farmers. Meanwhile, I will strive to get my chores done in time to make the noon deadline.

Mary R. Clifton, MD • TC
 
Thursday, September 13, 2007

Letters 9/13/07

Letters Peaceful Local Heroes
Local heroes Tom & Darlene Shea are embarking on a cross country adventure. They’re relocating.
Please show your support by wishing them well and offering to continue their good work here in Traverse City.
The Sheas are leaders in the peace & social justice movement. Tom was a facilitator for the TC TALUS group, which stands for Traverse City Transportation and Land Use Study. Tom’s experience with using consensus, conflict resolution, and mediation was vital in helping the group succeed.
The Sheas are heroes for many reasons...these two have given selflessly, they give more than they take.
Support the Sheas by keeping the movement strong. Please continue on with the Peace Group meetings at Mabel’s and the Free Speech Soapbox outside the Chamber of Commerce. Peace.

Tom Mair • TC

Sidewalks, Not Segwalks
Picture this: a typical fine day in downtown Traverse City (or any other town), sidewalks filled with residents and tourists alike - young children, strollers with babies, elderly people, an occasional dog on a leash - all leisurely enjoying not only downtown, but adjoining neighborhoods. Pedestrians, if you will.
Sidewalks are defined as: a paved path beside a street for use by pedestrians.
Pedestrians are defined as: a person who is walking.
Now add a few motorized vehicles called Segways to those sidewalks, maybe 2-3 abreast, all traveling 12.5 mph (3-4 times faster than the speed of a pedestrian). As with all motorized vehicles, a race to the next intersection is a given, even more so after stopping off at a local “watering hole.”
However one wishes to rationalize it, Segways are mechanical motorized vehicles, just like motorcycles, snowmobiles, and golf carts. Luxuries, not necessities. And they DON’T belong on pedestrian sidewalks!

Thomas M. Paradis • TC
Labor Day, Inc.
Labor Day, instituted in 1882 by the American labor movement to focus on the efforts of men and women to build this nation and be productive, is quaint.
We the people have done and are doing magnificent work - longer hours and more productivity. Yet we are going backward. The reasons are many. We are told that corporations are people and have the rights of people, but they don‘t have our rules. A separate tax code insures that many pay no taxes. Many executives make 200 to 1,000 times what we make, and pay less taxes. Laws are passed giving corporations tax incentives to move jobs off shore. We are told that competition is good, yet corporations promote mergers and acquisitions and eliminate competition.
The American labor movement was founded to give us a voice in our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The investment class and its cabal sees this as a threat to their power. They are doing all they can to focus our attention on issues of their choice. They are doing all they can to make Labor Day quaint.

Arnold Stieber • Grass Lake



 
Thursday, September 6, 2007

Letters 9/6/2007

Letters Where‘s the Beach?
A good question posed by residents and visitors alike in the small, picturesque Village of Lake Ann is “where’s the beach?” The answer is not so good. There is no public beach in the Village of Lake Ann. If the self-appointed “Concerned Citizens,” AKA “concerned lakefront property owners” have their way, there will NEVER be a public beach anywhere in Lake Ann.
According to a statement issued by the “Concerned Citizen,” property owners with direct frontage on Lake Ann pay a significant premium for that privilege. This (the beachfront park) would allow anyone access to Lake Ann “without regard to best interest.” In this case, “anyone” means the general public. This statement is elitism, no, it is more like discrimination. Whose best interest is this “Concerned Citizens” group concerned about?
Oh, this “Concerned” group says it is all for a public beach, but not at a location in the Village of Lake Ann - NIMBY (not in my back yard.) These “Concerned” want the public to just go away, say, across the lake to the state boat launch. What a fine mix this is: children vying for space with boats with motors, cars backing into the water to either launch or take out a boat.
There are folks who have lived their entire lives in Lake Ann and hve not been able or privileged to enjoy the view of Lake Ann from the shoreline. Folks who do not own property on Lake Ann have only their backyard and a garden hose.
The Village Council is attempting to provide an “Open Space” for the public. This “Open Space” is smack dab in the center of the village at 19511 Maple! This property, without question, is the best location on Lake Ann for this “Open Space Beach.” There will be no boat launch or boat dock. The park will be completely handicapped accessible.
The “Concerned citizens” tout the DNR boat launch across the lake as a beach site. This is just another way to say NIMBY. The “Concerned Citizens” want NO PUBLIC BEACH. The DNR has stated publically that a beach will not be considered. There is no Plan B. Michigan law states that it is unlawful to swim at a boat launch. In contrast, the village beach site is lawful and is only a couple of blocks from anywhere in the village, including the new senior housing center proposed by the Lake Ann United Methodist Church.
A balanced poll of only Lake Ann Village residents indicated 60% support for the village beach. A September 11, 2007 election will impact the future of Lake Ann. Voters will not be voting on a beach site. There is NO millage on the ballot. The issue is simply raw politics. The “Concerned Citizens” have a slate of candidates hoping to oust the current non-partisan elected officials of Lake Ann and kill the beach project.
It is the position of the Lake Ann Village Council that every person regardless of
station in life has the basic right to have access to THEIR public lands and to THEIR
public waters.

Daniel F. “Dutch” Herringa
Lake Ann

One Bag at a Time
Thanks to Noah for the eye-opening article on “Those Nasty Plastic Bags.”
After our own frustrations in seeking a re-usable alternative, with most tote bag styles that don’t stand up on their own, we discovered 1BagAtaTime.com. These well-designed foldable flat-bottom bags work just like paper bags but can be used over and over and are more eco-friendly.
People are always asking us, “Where did you get those?” so clearly a reusable bag concept makes sense and has the attention of the consumer – but if everyone took part, the people of Northern Michigan could soon be known as an example of one of the communities making a significant difference - 1 bag at a time?

Stosh & Janese Horton • TC

Calling On Truman?
President Truman believed that historians were one of our greatest natural assets. However, that belief could only be true if two conditions were met; there had to be world-class historians and powerful Washington politicians who were willing to be guided by their wise counsel.
Since President Truman‘s times, those two conditions have only come together to benefit the nation in the Johnson presidency.
In March of 1968, President Johnson sought the wise counsel of a group of older men, who could be considered informal world class historians. He asked them if the requested troop increase of 200,000 more men for his Vietnam War would guarantee success. That group said no.
As a result, President Johnson made two wise moves. He refused the request and removed the war commander making the request.
Relatedly, both Presidents Johnson and Bush chose to start their wars. And after several years of unsuccessful fighting, both presidents sought the wise counsel of older men. Now, though, President Bush has both rejected their wise counsel and removed the war commander opposing his new war escalation tactics.
However, President Truman‘s historical guidance idea is still good for wise future use.

Louis Burford • Petoskey

Sewer Stress
At last, the Northport real sewer story is told. The Northport/Leelanau Township sewer project from the start had the option, and still has the option, to be an environmentally sound, Smart Growth, affordable, EPA approved alternative system.
Determination of need, based on onsite testing of septics at a reasonable cost, is germane to the project. Failure to do the testing has resulted in a mega sewer encompassing functional permitted septics and, who knows why, possibly some impaired septics being excluded.
Even Judge Thomas Power, hearing the Leelanau Forum’s challenge to the gerrymandered Special Assessment District, questioned the exclusion and inclusion of properties.
Perhaps, most telling is Northport Village’s Board member, Ms. Barbara vonVoightlander’s quote to Anne Stanton. When queried why the village did not explore an optional, alternative system, as presented by Gourdie Fraser engineers, she responded ‘We had already picked an engineer”.
Reports by citizens in attendance at the presentation, have described the rudeness of the board towards the presenter. Von Voightlander acknowledged it was a rough meeting. Citizens called it a done deal. The board was not going to explore any design system, if it did not come from Fleis and Vandenbrink.
Kudos to Anne Stanton for researching and writing the real Northport Politics of Poop story. The politics are costly. About $146 a month per household. That is the real Northport sewer story.

Barbara Gilmore Weber
Northport



 
Thursday, August 30, 2007

Letters 8/30/07

Letters E-Coli ruined my summer
Okay “ruined” may be overstating the issue.
But as somebody who lives downtown and goes swimming often at Clinch Park I’m pretty upset about the beach closings.
Particularly when we aren’t given a reason for the problem. Is it related to the rain? Are the sewage plants to blame? Are the boats that anchor down there dumping their waste into the water as reported by Northern Express? Why doesn’t somebody stop them?
My biggest question is: Why is this story being reported but not investigated? Here we have a man-made problem which is closing the most beautiful and popular stretch of beach in the area. What’s really going on? These closings MUST be preventable. It almost has a conspiracy feel to it. As if we are supposed to simply accept this and assume the E-coli is somehow a natural occurrence.
Bottom line: somebody is doing something they shouldn’t be and I hope we hear more about this soon from our local news sources.

Eric Kurt • TC

Booze gravy train
I’m sure that we have all heard it a thousand times... The welfare system needs an overhaul!
I am a single working mother who has a full time job. My income qualifies for poverty level status, for sure! I have applied for some assistance myself and was told my $22,000 income was too much money. So I carried on working every day and so on.
Well... this past summer has been a real eye opener to say the least! I met some people that really shined the spotlight on welfare fraud and the many ways it can be achieved. Traverse City has an extremely high number of people, young and old, that receive welfare assistance and have very creative ways of using it to purchase alcohol! Did you know that these people actually receive cash benefits as well as food assistance?
Did I mention that they are homeless people due to severe alcoholism? Giving an alcoholic cash is like giving a heroin addict heroin! I have seen these people purchase six cases of rootbeer on their food card, then walk down the street, pour all the pop out of the cans and return the pop cans to purchase vodka!
Did you also know that when an addict enters Dakoske Hall rehabilitation center, the first thing they do for the new addition is sign them up for a bridge card? They immediately qualify for cash and food. I have seen it with my own eyes!
I think that to qualify for these benefits, you should have to take drug and alcohol tests. I also think that there must be some way to track purchases made with the bridge card or some way to flag unusual purchases like six cases of pop. This is our taxpayers‘ money here! Pop is not a source of nutrients to begin with! Why are these people given cash? Does this bother anyone else?

Susan Cummins • TC

Same old, same old...
It is time to set aside the petty discourse about the Northern Michigan “music scene,” or lack thereof, and remember that we are so fortunate to have the Holy Trinity of bands right here: The Horn Dogs, Luther Gravy and the Soul Biscuits and Jellyroll Blues Band for our listening pleasure. They will never go away -- they are Eternal -- they are the Northern Michigan “music scene.”

Claire Ahearne • 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 the Honorable Judge 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 environmental issues are not over until they’re over.
The original group of responsible citizens, who extensively and exhaustively researched the Northport issues, remains 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.
Criticism of the original group and currently the FORUM by proponents of the sewer is absolutely absurd. To say that they have raised the cost of the sewer is, once again, predicated on false, misleading, and slanderous lies. The Northport Council, along with the township board and the Leelanau Board of Public Works, raised the monetary stakes when the democratic process was set aside in favor of a land based petition process and political expediency.
Our Constitution was written with the intent of protecting the rights of every human being. One is the right to have issues heard, discussed, understood, and to arrive at balanced solutions.
Since the Council set aside our constitutional process, it now becomes the responsibility of the FORUM members to uphold that process. The Honorable Judge Power realized that the people’s 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 the environment and your constitutional right to be heard!

Ronald J. Schobel • Suttons Bay

Electric car math
Hey folks -- Puleeeeeeese do some math, re: the piece on Garth Ward’s Corbin Sparrow (8/23).
Trying to do the miles-per-gallon (mpg): Stated data in your piece: his 20-mile commute used to cost him $18.75. Okay, assume gas is $3, he would use 6.25 gallons, for a mileage of 3.2 mpg (if gas was cheaper, the mileage would be even worse).
Is that realistic?
Let’s assume you really mean 40 miles, 20 each way. Then he’s getting 6.4 mpg. Lots of time in traffic I guess.
Likely driving a commercial truck of some sort. A 1970 Caddy would be hard pressed to get that low a number.
And... whoops, the Sparrow has a 40 mile range, so maybe that 3.2 mpg number is right.
Other : 0 to 60 in 10 seconds. Whoopie.
Then we consider that this isn’t a “all season” mode of transportation. Note that I agree with the author that “technically, it’s not a car.“
What does Mr. Ward do in the winter (late October to late March?)
The Sparrow may be cute, but that’s about it.
As for “Who Killed the Electric Car?” They ain’t gone, just getting ready for reincarnation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Volt
Otherwise, keep up the good work folks

J.T. Hoagland • via email

(Our understanding is that Garth Ward was referring to a round-trip in a utility truck, a fact which the Express neglected to state in the article. -- ed.)




 
Thursday, August 23, 2007

Letter 8/23/07

Letters Testing for safety
The current hullabaloo over imports from China is frustrating to watch. It has led to calls to ban all imports from China, set up new systems to test incoming products, and generally given politicians way too much opportunity for mindless blathering and calls for expensive or impossible safety measures.
We cannot afford to test all incoming products, and we cannot ban imports from China. A system exists right now to assure safe and effective products from all countries, and it does not cost the U.S. taxpayer anything.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Conformity Assessment Committee, the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) have established a system of standards and processes to verify the competence of producers and to test these products for safety and proper function (depending whether the product is food, toys, pharmaceuticals, telephones or automobiles).
This system is in place now, and accreditors in most countries (including the U.S. and China) are following the rigorous process of accreditation to international standards, peer-assessment, and mutual promotion of the agreement. The system has been endorsed by the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the International Electrotechnical Commission, and a host of other respected global organizations. Further details can be obtained from www.ilac.org.
What is needed is to have bulk customers (not consumers) require that the producers they buy from must be certified for manufacture of the product, and that the product must be tested for compliance to specific requirements by an accredited laboratory.
In the recent very visible cases, the pet food, toy, and pharmaceutical manufacturers did not demand that the products be tested by an accredited laboratory, or that the manufacturers be certified for the products they were selling. If the customers had demanded certification and accredited testing, these manufacturers would have obtained it from their government or other organizations (it varies by country). Such verification is mandatory only in Europe for some products, but almost everywhere else it is voluntary. Note that the consumer cannot do this; it is the responsibility of the bulk purchasers.
Trillions of dollars in products and services are being traded under this system, and it works. It is working not just to assure safety and that products work, but it also works to reduce the enormous amount of wasted products – Syrian oranges that arrive in Europe and must be dumped at sea because they do not meet local standards; Volkswagens that are produced for the US market but can’t be sold because they fail EPA emissions tests; Mattel toys that must be disposed as toxic waste. The examples and dollars involved every year are mind-boggling, but usually they are not publicly reported..
Anyone buying anything for resale has an obligation to require verification of competence of the supplier, and the conformity of the product to specified criteria. Purchasing on the basis of price alone only leads to unfortunate news stories.

Dan Tholen • TC
 
Thursday, August 16, 2007

Letters 8/16/07

Letters When the music‘s over...
Oh my god..... Enough about this so-called music scene and all the bullshit that goes along with it. There is no music scene here!
Just a dog and pony show for all the fudgies, with the same f-ing cast of characters. Hey guys, (you know who you are), let‘s all form duos and do the soft shoe for the tourists, shall we? This is vacation land, not L.A., N.Y., Nashville, or even Detroit.
There used to be music made here, but not since the ‘90s, and even then, it was dicey. Why make real music, when you can hide in Traverse City, sit down, get lazy, and play “Margaritaville“ & “Brown Eyed Girl“...
Please stop thinking it’s ever going to be more than it is. Anybody can play the same old song. Those who can play are the ones responsible for letting the music die, by settling for the easy dollar and the status quo.

John C. Hefti • TC
 
Thursday, August 9, 2007

Letters 8/9/07

Letters The poop on poop
Re: “The Politics of Poop“ series:
Farmers have applied manure to their crop fields as long as there have been animals and crops.
“Livestock manure is often used to build and maintain soil fertility, but it may also be used to improve soil tilth, increase the soil’s water holding capacity and reduce wind and water erosion,” according to the MSU Extension Bulletin. “Manure applications, however, may also cause surface and groundwater pollution if mismanaged.”
The same benefits and detriments can occur with the application of septage sludge to farm fields if mismanaged. After all, human manure is not that different than livestock manure once it is screened.
When farmers apply animal manure to crop fields, to comply with Right to Farm Guidelines, they must:
• keep accurate records;
• have soil tested for existing nutrients;
• have manures nutrients tested;
• calibrate manure spreaders to know how much manure/nutrients are going on the fields;
• know the crop and its nutrient needs so the right amount of manure can be spread.
Michigan State University Extension office works with farmers to make sure the appropriate amounts of manure and/or fertilizer are applied to the crop. The goal is not to waste money or nutrients, but to be environmentally friendly and as efficient as possible.
Spreading septage on farm fields is heavily regulated and permitted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in cooperation with the Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency. MSU Extension works with septage haulers and farmers to apply the right amount of septage for the crop. The septage hauler must follow the same rules as farmers with these additions:
• use only septage taken from homes,
• screen waste to take out paper products;
• have soils tested for existing nutrients;
• be specified distances from water bodies, wetlands, property boundaries, homes and wells;
• incorporate the septage into the ground within six hours of land application;
• have 10 hours of continuing septage education.
Using septage as a fertilizer for crops is like using animal manure for fertilizer. The nutrients and the organic matter are good for the soil and good for the crop. Putting the waste into the ground and utilizing the nutrients and organics is a cost effective way to get rid of the waste. This is the ultimate: reduce, recycle, reuse.
“Sewage sludge has been applied to land in the United States and Europe for over 40 years, with no evidence of associated health problems. Today, almost half of the sewage sludge generated in the United States is land applied,” according to an EPA brochure. Septage is a valuable nutrient that should be utilized and not “thrown” away. Think about it!

Heidi S. Lang, Soil Erosion
Officer • Antrim County


Ramble on...
In response to: “Ramblings of a full-time musician” in last week‘s Express, I would like say halleluiah to Mr. Greilick for challenging the misconceptions of our local music scene.
As a former musician and the father of a talented young singer who has performed in this region for many years, I have had the pleasure of getting to know and experience some of the finest players in the North. The list runs long, and if there is one common thread weaving through that pool of professionals around here, it’s the fact that they all do their talking on the stage, right where it belongs. For those who choose otherwise, I sure hope they can walk the walk.

Mark Waggener • TC
 
Thursday, August 2, 2007

Letters 8/2/07

Letters The aftermath of war
In response to David J. Newland‘s letter (“Do Nothing Democrats,“ 7/26), in which he suggests that Democrats in Congress “lack the moral courage” to end the Iraq war, I would point out that the two wars our nation has fought against Iraq have smashed the Iraqi military. Our troops have shown terrific and terrifying professionalism and overwhelming capability. The oilfields of Iraq are placed beyond the reach of insurgent forces who may desire to disrupt the flow of oil to the U.S. and its economic allies. This is the victory that Mr. Newland overlooks.
What has our engine of war done to ensure the future flow of oil? It has impoverished an entire nation with bombing and sanctions, dissolved the Iraqi police and employed only foreign contractors. The U.S. has done everything it can to create a hopeless and enraged underclass in Iraq. House-to-house sweeps, arrests, brutal interrogations, torture, and random and targeted killings complete the mission of permanently destabilizing the average Iraqi.
There is now self-sustaining violence in Iraq. All that remains is the task of propping up whichever faction supplies us oil, a matter of supplying weapons and resources at a reasonable price. This worked marvellously throughout the Iran-Iraq war.
The men and women who have gone to Iraq are no longer children to be lied to. No political party is going to send them any divine “message.” It is the American people who must hear the message our troops are sending us.
Lastly, I ask you sir, precisely what sort of moral courage would be most appropriate for Democrats who wish to end this current war? And what moral courage was necesssary to begin these wars?

Eric Pyne • Frankfort

The straight poop
Thanks to Anne Stanton for a great article about poop in the July 26 Northern Express. It sure isn’t a fun summer topic, but Anne gets right in and shovels it up. The bottom line is that Michigan’s laws are very weak in dealing with septage waste, whether from animals or humans. And to top it off, the legislature is constantly decreasing the budget of the DEQ for investigation and enforcement.
At a dairy Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) with 1,000 cows, more poop is created in a day than all of Traverse City’s humans. Traverse City has a state-of-the-art water treatment plant, but a CAFO operator can spread that much on a field to wash into drainage ditches and streams. This just doesn’t make sense, unless you are a lobbyist for the Farm Bureau.
And hats off to Keith Termaat and the Milton Neighbors for their grassroots organizing to help Antrim County deal with land application of poopage. The Sierra Club has been trying for years now to strengthen regulations on CAFOs; we appreciate local efforts to keep the topic in front of legislators. We are all neighbors, and we all live downstream.

Tom Karas • Mackinac Chapter,
Sierra Club


Don‘t close great school
I do not have children of my own, but I have spent my entire adult life as an educator.
I live in Acme Township. When we moved up north, we were very impressed with the quality of Bertha Vos Elementary School, as evidenced by neighbors who chose to move here specifically so they could send their kids to that institution.
For the past seven years, I have spent several days a week volunteering at TC Central High School, and it is obvious that the graduates of Bertha Vos are among the most talented and academically well-prepared students I have encountered. Acme Township is growing by leaps and bounds, and not having a neighborhood school would certainly be detrimental to that growth.
We are miles from any other elementary school. If Bertha Vos closes, it is unlikely that TCAPS will save any money, since so many of the students will end up enrolling in the Elk Rapids schools. Bertha Vos is the heart of our community. I am asking the Board to reject the recommendation to close the one school that services the entire northeast corner of the TCAPS school district, for the sake of our children, our community and itself.

Lois Goldstein • Williamsburg
 
Thursday, July 26, 2007

Letters 7/26/07

Letters Lack of respect at C-Fest
I am writing to say that I am quite disappointed in the Cherry Festival directors or whomever was in charge of scheduling and planning events this year.
I took an early afternoon off to take my family to the Heritage Day Powwow (their first) at the Open Space only to have to sit through 25 minutes of sound check for the Emerson Drive band (at full volume through the fronts) while the Powwow‘s two drum circles and announcers were trying in vain to be heard over the “noise.”
As a professional musician of almost 30 years, I fully understand the need and desire to have a good soundcheck before an event. But as member of the Cherokee tribe, it really upsets me that the road crew and local stage hands couldn’t have been instructed not to start soundcheck until 4:01 p.m. for a show that doesn’t begin until dusk.
The Grand Traverse Band does this event here in town ONCE a year, for four hours. Is it too much to ask for a little respect and let them have that scheduled time to share in their culture? It is called “Heritage Days” after all...
Thanks for letting me vent.

Damien Allen • via email

Chill out
In response to the letter in the July 12 edition, “Machines of Death,” by Jason M. Glover of TC -- Dude, take a pill! We had a good time. Have a nice day.

Rick Burmeister • Northport

No cherry for the slice
of pie I‘m holding
How was your Cherry Festival? I’m hoping yours and most of your readers was enjoyable... Mine Started Out with Great excitement, and Joy With The Start Of this
Year‘s Festival Being July 7th... The Same Day As My Wedding, That also Being 07 07 07... The Luckiest Of All Lucky Dates, and To Think Some Of These People, My family from all over have never even been to Traverse City, Let Alone Be Able To Enjoy My Wedding And Participate In one Of This City’s Greatest Events, And enjoy Our Local Hospitality.
But Do Our Locals Enjoy Our Local Hospitality???? I Mean I’m not Quite Sure. But I really Think There‘s Something In The Water.
Know This, after years of sitting Back From My First Exhausting Brush With The back stabbing, Backwoods idea of musical politics up here... what Is Up.... I Hit It Hard With The Band Radio Flyer’s... We Came Out Entertaining Audiences,Having Fun... And Getting Noticed. OOPS I’m Sorry I Forgot ... I’m Not In The Music Click, I Better Tone It Down (Not). Then I Created A Kick Ass Open Mic For A New Club In Town... Record Bar Sales I was Booking Great Local Bands From All Over Northern Michigan, we Were All Having Fun. OOPS... Here I Go Again Showing way To Much Concern For The Local Music Scene. Some Local Musician With An Attitude Wants To Boycott The Open Mic... It Didn’t Work, We Rode Out That Storm (thank You To All The Local Musicians That Stood Up With Me)...
This Year I Opened Northstar Productions, one Awesome Place To Practice, Record, Net Work.. And Get Booked. Look Out You Local Hate Mongers Of anyone Trying To Do something For Everyone... I’m Back And I’m Doing Big Things For This Community And Those Who Care About What Goes On In Our Local Music Scene... It isn’t About The Dollar with Me”It‘s About The Music.”
I’m actually a little upset about the support I got in return when it came to my band playing in our local Cherry Festival,,, I turned down an early opportunity to open for a national act because I wanted to support our very own local talent....
And in return my band got nothing, Not To Mention some genius thought a jazz trio would be an appropriate opening act for a rock band. This Would Have Been a great Chance For Many Of My Distant Relatives to See My Band And I Perform, Not To Mention My Band Mates First time playing for their home town On the National Cherry Festival Stage.... we were all excited...oops ...wrong Again Always Some Type Of Backstabbing....
Oh Well, I always Say “What Goes Around Comes Around.” Hey Bob, Keep Up The Good Work I Know You‘re Supportive Of The Local Music Scene. Oh By The Way I Heard Your Traverse City Tune On The WKLT. That was cool! Great Song, Peace.

Don Swan, Northstar Productions
(Don Swan‘s letter has been run verbatim to maintain the rock & roll spirit in which it was written. -- ed.)
 
Thursday, July 19, 2007

Letters 7/19/07

Letters Safe Passage fundraiser
For many of us, issues of poverty and social injustice in the world seem overwhelming. It’s not often that we find an opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of impoverished children in far away places - places like the slums of Guatemala City.
An ever growing number of people in the Traverse area have found just such an opportunity by becoming involved in Great Lakes Friends of Safe Passage.
Safe Passage is an extraordinary program in Guatemala started by one young woman who was courageous enough to act boldly when she saw suffering. Safe Passage is now an internationally recognized non-profit working to improve the lives of impoverished families living on the periphery of Guatemala City’s enormous garbage dump.
Safe Passage was founded by Hanley Denning, a young educator from Maine who traveled to Guatemala in 1999 to learn Spanish. In response to what she saw, she sold her belongings and used the modest proceeds to found a program to help children foraging in the dump to attend school.
Safe Passage has grown to now serve nearly 600 children per year, from preschool to high school, providing tutoring, school supplies, nutritional support, a health clinic, and other services which help children receive an education and break out of generational poverty. Within a safe environment, every child participates in an integrated program that fosters optimism, good health, educational achievement, self esteem, and confidence.
Tragically, last January, Denning was killed in an automobile accident in Guatemala – leaving everyone who knew her or her story in shock. Since her death, the outpouring of support from people around the world, as well as the determined effort of the board of directors, staff, and volunteers of Safe Passage have allowed service to children to continue uninterrupted.
Traverse area residents have been very involved in keeping Hanley’s vision alive. Over 40 area residents have traveled to Guatemala as volunteers. Students have held coin drives and fundraisers in their schools, local businesses have made donations, children have created artwork to sell, and a student and two professors from Northwestern Michigan College recently returned from a site visit to Guatemala to explore options for developing an educational partnership.
The Great Lakes Friends is hosting a “Summer Fiesta” to benefit the children of Safe Passage. The event, “Journey to Guatemala,” will be held on Tuesday, July 17 at the Hagerty Center on NMC’s Great Lakes Campus, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. It will feature a “virtual visit” to Safe Passage, live music, food and drink, silent and live auctions of Guatemalan arts and crafts, as well as a short film tribute to founder Hanley Denning. Tickets are $25 each, and can be purchased at the door. Come celebrate the power of what can be accomplished when people join together!
More information about Safe Passage is available at www.safepassage.org

Elizabeth Kushman • TC

Drugging kids for profit
Three cheers for activist Ben Hansen’s detective work to expose the shameless overdrugging of Michigan kids with dangerous psychiatric drugs under the approval and authority of the Michigan Department of Community Mental Health, which oversees the Medicaid and foster care programs.
There is a nationwide trend to raid state Medicaid coffers by putting as many people as possible on very expensive anti-psychotics such as Zyprexa. Eli Lilly, the maker of Zyprexa, is currently being sued by the attorney generals of eight states for fraudulently marketing Zyprexa for unapproved uses.
Montana’s suit claims Lilly “instructed its representative to minimize and misrepresent the dangers of Zyprexa, affirmatively and consciously placing company profits above the public safety.” It goes on to state, “This failure to warn was designed and intended to maximize company profits.” Zyprexa has been linked to excessive weight gain and increased diabetes risk.
On March 17, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Ohio doctors prescribed Zyprexa 165,000 times to Medicaid patients in 2006. More than 13,000 of those prescriptions went to kids under 19.
Recently, I spoke to Mark Matus in the Michigan Dept of the Attorney General’s Healthcare Fraud Division and urged him to investigate if Eli Lilly had fraudulently marketed Zyprexa in Michigan. He acknowledged that Michigan Medicaid spends millions of dollars on Zyprexa but seemed unconcerned that there might be any fraud going on. I sent him a package of news articles detailing the basis of these suits again urging him to take action. Info on the many suits involving Zyprexa can be found at www.psychsearch.net//lawsuits.html. I never heard back from Mark Matus, and wonder just what kind of Healthcare Fraud Division is being run under Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox.
While Michigan is in a severe budget crunch, there seems to be no lack of our tax dollars available to drug kids with expensive, dangerous psychiatric drugs that are not even approved for use on children in the first place. It’s an outrage.

Ernest Ryan • Temperance
 
Thursday, July 12, 2007

Letters 7/12/07

Letters Education, not diversity
My son attends a nearly all-white school. There’s not much diversity, tragically. The school, believe it or not, just educates any kid who enters its doors. Radical idea! After all, how can the kids learn if there aren’t different colors of faces around them?
I asked my son if it’s hurting him to be in a predominantly white school. He was mystified, since he just made the B honor roll and is proud of his achievement. His sixth grade project was, his teachers said, the best in 10 years. I don’t know how he did it. It’s unimaginable for him to have succeeded.
You see, my son is Guatemalan. We adopted him at the age of three months. His skin is brown. His hair is very black. According to the “diversity” crowd, he’s being damaged by attending a non-diverse public school in our mid-Michigan district. The diversity pushers think his white pals should be put on buses and shipped to, say, Flint, because there aren’t enough white faces in the Flint schools. The black children of Flint should be shipped 30 miles back to our district so they can show their black faces, so the school can claim it’s “diverse.”
Fortunately, the Supreme Court just struck down the Mengele-esque concept that public schools should be able to hold a color wheel up to a child’s face and decide on the value of his hue, so diversity can be “created.”
Justice Stephen Breyer says that not having diversity as a primary goal undermines the promise of integrated schools the landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education from 53 years past.
“To invalidate the plans under review is to threaten the promise of Brown,” Breyer said.
The “promise of Brown”? When did the promise of the Brown morph from educating children without regard to race into forcing diversity by looking only at children’s faces? The “promise” was that public schools in America would be open to all children of any color who resided within a school’s district. The promise does not involve shuffling kids like marbles to achieve color balances. Any child, of any color, in any order, in any balance, should be educated equally with the others.
“What was wrong in 1954 cannot be right today,” says Justice Clarence Thomas, the Court’s only black member. “The plans before us base school assignment decisions on students’ race. Because ‘our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens,’ such race-based decisionmaking is unconstitutional.”
My son agrees. “Diversity” should not be a goal of schools. Education should be the goal of schools. Radical idea, huh?

Diane Carey • Owosso
 
 
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