Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

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Random Thoughts

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sorrentino‘s Situation

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Sorrentino’s Situation
There was a shirtless photo of Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino of MTV’s
Jersey Shore in last week’s edition of Entertainment Weekly. The
Situation, of course, is world-famous for his abs, and looks to be ‘cut’
about as deep as the Grand Canyon.
Anyone who’s ever trained for a body building competition, a black
belt, or for their first marathon, can appreciate the kind of effort
that goes into Sorrentino’s level of fitness. But as any fitness junkie
knows, getting there is one thing -- staying there is another.
Monday, January 3, 2011

Rebooting the Mating Ritual

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Rebooting the Mating Ritual
Anthropologists often study the habits of primitive tribes, including
their mating rituals, dances, tattoos, dining practices and such.
It makes you wonder what they’d think of the odd and exotic practices
of the natives here in Northern Michigan.
Recently, I went to a popular nightclub in the area and noticed that
the dance floor was packed with women in their 20s, dancing to DJ
music by Ke$ha, Kanye, Prince and the like. Where are all the young
dudes? the anthropologist in me wondered. Sitting at the bar with glum
looks on their faces, dressed in their hip-hop baseball caps and
oversized sweatshirts, watching the girls dance.
Monday, December 27, 2010

Wrapping it up

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Wrapping It Up
Person of the Year:
For Michigan it was Ms. Mary Jane Medical Marijuana and her thousands of fans.
I’ve been amazed at the number of people who’ve gotten their “card”
since medical marijuana was legalized. Never knew there were so many
sick people out there.
“I went down to the clinic and paid them $150 with an extra $100 to
the state and I was good to go. It was easy,” one new card-holder
told me recently. Now he can buy an ounce of weed for $300 or so to
ease a nervous condition.
Monday, December 20, 2010

The Giving Season

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The Giving Season
There’s a man in our town who looks like a walking pile of rags. Ten
years ago, he was a well-groomed street person, handsome in a Brad Pitt
sort of way and wearing stylish clothes, like someone was caring for
him. But he’s dwindled down through the years to the visage of a
ragged scarecrow with long, knotted hair and a matted beard -- his
layered clothes in tatters -- shambling down the streets with the look
of a kicked dog in his eyes.
Monday, December 13, 2010

The White Hurricane

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Only a fool would try to predict the weather, but let’s get a little
wild & crazy here and give it a go anyway: It’s going to snow this
Ha-ha. If any of us had worries about not celebrating a white
Christmas this year, they were put to rest by last week’s dump,
courtesy of a lake effect snowstorm that blew the white stuff all the
way to Tennessee. Midway through last week, we had already received 4
feet, with buckets of snowflakes still falling.
Monday, December 6, 2010

The Buy Local Movement

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The Buy Local Movement
In some ways, the early ’90s were a scarier time for downtowns in
Northern Michigan than what we face today in the “Great Recession.”
Nearly 20 years ago, we interviewed Bryan Crough, executive director
of the Downtown Development Authority about the future of downtown
Traverse City. At the time, America was undergoing the recession of
1991-’92. Merchants and restaurateurs in Northern Michigan were also
threatened by an invasion of chain stores and eateries.
Monday, November 29, 2010

Our own reverse Robin Hood

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Our own Reverse Robin Hood
“Savings almost depleted, might last through the winter. 59-year-old
male, unemployed, wife, disabled with no benefits. 99er! Please vote
for unemployment extension in lame duck session. I see no help coming
after Jan.”
-- Letter to U.S. Rep. Dave Camp from a resident of Empire
Monday, November 22, 2010

Music to our ears

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Music lovers in Northern Michigan have pined for another outdoor
concert scene since the days of the Castle Farms music venue back in
the 1980s. Happily, a new concert facility planned for the Grand
Traverse Commons within the next couple of years should make that
dream a reality (details on page 10).
Monday, November 15, 2010

20 years in the rear-view

Random Thoughts Robert Downes 20 years in the rear-view
Less than six months from now, Northern Express Weekly will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the paper.
We’ll trot out the old story of how my friend George and I launched the Express in my kitchen on Mission Peninsula with an investment on par with what you’d pay for a 10-year-old used car, and reminisce about the glory days. But mostly I think we’ll dwell on the past decade of the paper, since the first half of our adventure has grown rather mossy in the memory.
Monday, November 8, 2010

Job #1: downsizing Lansing

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Job #1: downsizing Lansing
There was an odd moment on TV 7&4 News last week that indicated where
we might be headed now that the balance of power has shifted in
Greg MacMaster, who ran for office on a pledge to downsize state
government, said in an interview that he has 13 new bills in mind for
his role as the new State Rep for the 105th District.
Monday, November 1, 2010

Would you buy this bridge

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Would You Buy This Bridge?
Anyone interested in buying the Mackinac Bridge? It’s perfect for the
person who has everything, or that ‘hard to shop for’ person on your
Christmas list.
There was a flurry of manufactured outrage over an alleged plan to
sell the Mighty Mac last week to help patch the state’s $1.6 billion
budget hole. The idea seems about as likely to happen as selling 40
acres and a mule to homesteaders on the moon, but it’s worth passing
Monday, October 25, 2010

Trick or Treat...

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Trick or Treat...
This used to be the time of year when you kept your black cat indoors
at night and peered out the window now and then to make sure that
young hoodlums weren’t out smashing pumpkins and acting up on “Devil’s
Those were the days when teens were revved up to go out tossing eggs
and toilet paper at night, spray-painting graffiti, and role-playing
in inappropriate places like cemeteries.
Monday, October 18, 2010

For gay people, a dangerous world

Random Thoughts Robert Downes For gay people, a dangerous world
When an anti-discrimination ordinance for gay and lesbian citizens was
considered by the Traverse City Commission last month, some locals
wondered why such a measure would even be necessary in this day and
age in America.
Monday, October 11, 2010

Where the gloomsters go wrong

Random Thoughts By Robert Downes You hear a lot of dire warnings about peak oil these days, and the
pickle we’ll be in once the last drop of crude is squeezed from the
Northern Michigan has hosted many prophets of peak oil’s impending
disaster, including James Kunstler, who wrote “The Long Emergency:
Surviving the End of the Oil Age, Climate Change, and Other Converging
Catastrophes.” Recently, environmental consultant Nicole Foss was in
the region, sharing some views on what to do when our oil-based
economy goes up in smoke.
Monday, October 4, 2010

A Republican for health care reform

Random Thoughts Robert Downes A Republican for health care reform
A Republican friend of mine -- let’s call him Joe, since that is in
fact, his actual name -- agrees with his party on most issues, with
one exception:
“Sometimes I wonder if the Republicans aren’t going the wrong way with
the idea of doing away with health care reform,” he says.
Joe reads two newspapers each day, especially the editorial pages. He
gets most of his TV news from FOX. He prides himself on having a
“point of view,” and it tends to be a strong one.