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, March 8, 2010

When the law goes nuts

Random Thoughts Robert Downes In the spring of 2005, undercover officers from the Flint Area
Narcotics Group raided a dance club called the Club What’s Next and
rounded up 117 young men and women under the pretense that they were
“frequenting a drug house.”
Monday, March 1, 2010

Getting a grip on globalization

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Getting a grip on globalization
I saw two men hitch-hiking in opposite directions on the road between
Kalkaska and Mancelona the other day. It seemed odd because you rarely
see a single hitch-hiker, let alone two within a few miles. And I’ve
noticed increasing numbers of people commuting via bicycle this
winter, grinding through heavy slush and snow, sometimes along busy
major roads. I get the feeling that these riders aren’t devotees of
the bicycling lifestyle, but rather, evidence of America’s declining
standard of living under globalization.
Monday, February 22, 2010

Off with their heads

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Off with their heads...?
In 1649, King Charles I placed his head on a chopping block in London and
had it removed “in one clean stroke” of a broadaxe.
Charles had made the mistake of becoming too big of a pain in the neck for
his subjects (pun intended). In addition to demanding more revenues from
Parliament under the notion that he was divinely ordained, he also
inflicted immense suffering on his people by embarking on two civil wars;
not to mention a great deal of religious meddling at a time when that
resulted in rivers of blood.
Monday, February 15, 2010

Rough road ahead

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Rough Road Ahead
City government has dropped the ball on two occasions involving road issues over the past year in Traverse City, and some residents are wondering how we managed to get so far off course.
As a result of these embarrassing, counter-productive gaffs, some feel that a city which prides itself on being a beacon of progress has been set back years.
It started with the news last year that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) had plans to simply resurface Division Street, the north-south artery that funnels thousands of cars from West Bayshore to Meijer’s and the mall.
Advocates of “traffic calming,“ including TART Trails, protested that MDOT’s plan was short-sighted and inadequate. They argued that the time was right to re-engineer Division as a safer, slower route that would take pedestrians and cyclists into account.
Monday, February 8, 2010

Whole lotta‘ shakin‘ goin‘ on

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Whole lotta‘ shakin‘ goin‘ on...
Groundhog‘s Day is always a head-scratcher for me. If the little guy
sees his shadow on Feb. 2, it means six more weeks of winter.
This is considered a ‘bad‘ thing across the country or in
Punxsutawney, PA where the prognosticating rodent makes his home. But
here in Northern Michigan, ‘only‘ six more weeks of winter sounds like
a sweet deal. Generally, we get socked with 10 more weeks of winter,
with the last of the snows ending in mid-April. (And many of us can
recall snowflakes even into May.)
Monday, February 1, 2010

Biomass a short-sighted plan

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Biomass a short-sighted plan
More than a century ago, our ancestors had a simple plan for dealing
with industrial waste: they simply flushed it into the river or let it
settle into the ground. Problem solved. What could be easier and more sensible? No one had a clue at the time that there were
unintended consequences that would involve billions of dollars in cleanup schemes within a few decades.
Monday, January 25, 2010

Wedding bell blues

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Wedding Bell Blues
Sad, but true: I tend to have a hard time getting stoked for our annual
wedding insert each January, possibly because I haven’t personally
channeled getting hitched in quite some time now.
Monday, January 18, 2010

The great job eater

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The Great Job Eater
...You stop by Border’s Books & Music over the holidays to buy some CDs
for gifts and notice that the music department has shrunk to a fifth of
its former size, with little to choose from.
Monday, January 11, 2010

Fitness 2010 and beyond

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Fitness 2010 & beyond
The Snuggie and Facebook -- there’s a perfect match in sync with our time,
don’t you think? Just swaddle up in a giant synthetic sock, tap into the
‘book and chat with your imaginary friends -- some of whom you’ve never
met in the ‘real’ world.
Monday, January 4, 2010

Adventures in Advertising

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Adventures in Advertising
A current fad in corporate America is to hire marketing firms to pitch stories to newspapers for everything from soup to wingnuts.
Typically, you’re slaving over a hot computer, trying to turn the lead of a dull topic into gold on the printed page, when a call comes through with a brilliant story idea for Northern Express.
Here’s an example.
Caller: “Hi, I’m calling from LadyStretch underwear for plus-size women with a great story idea about our new line of Mirdle undergarments for mega-sized men. I think it would be a wonderful story for your newspaper!”
You (hardly believing your ears at your good fortune): “Wow! What is it?”
Caller: “Well, you know how a lot of hefty men have issues with their big guts? The new Mirdle is a girdle for men... blah, blah, blah...”
Monday, December 28, 2009

So long to a dismal decade

Random Thoughts Robert Downes So Long to a Dismal Decade
Remember what excitement there was in the air when we rang in 2000 on
New Year’s Eve 10 years ago?
No one knew whether the wheels would fall off civilization as a result
of the Y2K, but we were exhilarated by the dawn of a new millennium
and the thrill of witnessing another 1,000 years of human progress. I
recall joining friends at a local nightclub that night, listening to a
band called Daddy Longlegs as the clock ticked midnight, and wondering
what kind of amazing good time we were in for in the ’00s.
Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas grab bag

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Christmas Grab Bag
Something to Carp About
Do you lie awake nights, worrying about the Asian carp menace and its
possible migration into the Great Lakes?
Relax, we’re probably screwed on this one any way you look at it.
These carp reach up to four feet in length and weigh up to 100 lbs.
They reproduce like rabbits and eat like elephants, gobbling up enough
food to equal 40% of their own body weight each day.
Monday, December 14, 2009

2 Degrees and counting

Random Thoughts Robert Downes 2 Degrees & Counting
Was the monster storm that terrorized two-thirds of the United
States last week a sign of global climate change? Hawaii was swept by
40-foot waves, it snowed in San Diego, 70 mph winds buzzed Texas, and
of course, snow ensued here in the Midwest -- lots of it.
Monday, December 7, 2009

One way to end the war forever: tax it

Random Thoughts Robert Downes “Any tax is a discouragement and therefore a regulation so far as it goes.”
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

One idea that went nowhere recently was a proposal by two
legislators to slap a new tax on the wealthy to finance the war in
Monday, November 30, 2009

Our new direction

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Our New Direction
There’s growing support in the trade magazines these days for the idea of newspapers taking a step back from the Internet.
Heresy? Not when you consider that 105 American newspapers went out of business in the first seven months of this year and more than 10,000 newsroom jobs were lost. Newspapers are fighting for their lives and it’s starting to slowly dawn on publishers that giving the news away for free online is a strategy for extinction.