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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Region Watch

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Gov. Grandholm & Ford

Region Watch Anne Stanton Governor Jennifer Granholm has offered Ford Motor Company a tax break of $151 million if it agrees to invest $1 billion in Michigan facilities.
If the company agrees, the investment will mean keeping about 56,200 jobs in Michigan, including up to 13,740 jobs directly by Ford, Granholm’s press release said.
The investment would allow Ford to more quickly retool its manufacturing line to produce new car models and to do more research and development.
The release comes at a time when Republican legislators, who hold the majority in both the house and senate, have blamed Granholm for the state’s high unemployment rate, largely due to auto lay-offs and, of course, the domino effect on businesses that depend on the Big Three.
Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ross Child‘s Report

Region Watch Anne Stanton As promised, Ross Childs has submitted a huge report—a book really—in the hopes of taming the aggressive and “biased” reporting of the Traverse City Record-Eagle.
Childs, who spent 25 years as top gun of the Grand Traverse County government, mailed the report over the Fourth of July weekend to Peter Kann, chairman of the board of Dow Jones & Company, which owns Ottaway Newspapers, which owns the Record-Eagle.
He said he hasn’t received a response yet.
Thursday, June 15, 2006

Passanger train service Petoskey/Traverse City to Ann Arbor

Region Watch Anne Stanton It’s going to take some time and patience, but you might well see a nonstop passenger train service from Petoskey and Traverse City to the outskirts of Ann Arbor.
It will take at least two years to establish the passenger route from Traverse City to Howell and another two years to extend the route north to Petoskey, said Mike Bagwell, president and CEO of Federated Railways, which bought the Tuscola Saginaw Bay Railway Company at the end of March.
Thursday, June 8, 2006

Sleeping Bear Dunes Management Plan

Region Watch Anne Stanton From 1999 to 2002, officials at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore attempted to write a new General Management Plan. Essentially it was a 20-year vision for the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a gorgeous landscape of dunes, fields and woodlands hugging the Lake Michigan shoreline.
That attempt failed, largely owing to fears that some popular areas would be designated as wilderness areas and made off-limits to cars.
Now officials have wiped the slate clean and started over.
The most controversial element of the plan is what’s called a wilderness study, which defines areas in the park that are off-limits to anything with wheels, but still open to hikers and swimmers.
The first time that park officials tried to put together a 20-year plan, many citizens feared the park would close off Esch Road, a dirt road leading to the popular Otter Creek beach. That’s because Esch Road is currently managed as a wilderness area and the park was not looking at redefining wilderness areas.
Thursday, May 18, 2006

Who you gonna call?

Region Watch Anne Stanton The budget of the Benzie County Sheriff’s Department has been stripped to the bone, and it’s starting to show. A roving road patrol deputy is no longer a given.
“We get there as quick as we can, we always do, but there are times we don’t have anyone on patrol at all, no one at all,” said Benzie County Undersheriff Joe Barone.
No one?
Thursday, May 4, 2006

Lets Get Moving

Region Watch Robert Sweetgall has walked across America seven times. On Tuesday, May 2, he’ll drive to Traverse City to help kick off what has become the king of community fitness events – the annual Let’s Get Moving Northern Michigan-Grand Traverse program.
Sweetgall – author of 17 books on walking, wellness, and active living – will pump up participants with a humorous account of his transformation from an overweight Brooklyn boy dubbed  “Butterball” to a healthy, fit adult who walks 30 to 40 miles each week.
Thursday, April 20, 2006

Earth Day

Region Watch Anne Stanton Region Watch
by Anne Stanton

Earth Day Meet-up:
There’s still time to put together a costume for the Earth Day Parade planned for Saturday, April 22 in downtown Traverse City. Dress up as your favorite animal (or plant) species within for the “storybook” parade that will feature the chapters of earth, wind, fire, air and center. All are invited to make costumes from recycled materials this week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights, 5-9 p.m. at the Community Art Studio on 11th and Elmwood Streets. Suggested donation, $5.
The parade takes off at 1 p.m.; the meet-up is at Central Grade School on 7th Street and spontaneous participants are welcome (just find your appropriate theme). The route includes Union, State, Front and Sixth Streets, ending at Hannah Park (weather permitting) with a special puppet and mask performance and community.. A bad weather date is scheduled for April 29. For more information go to www.littleartshram.org or call 276-2328.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sleeping Bear seeks your imput

Region Watch The public is invited to offer input on the future direction of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in an series of meetings dealing with the park’s General Management Plan.
A similar plan whipped up controversy four years ago when a number of limitations were proposed for the park, including closing beaches to vehicles.
“This planning effort is a new start, not a restart of the planning effort that ended in 2002,” said Superintendent Dusty Shultz of the plan’s Wilderness Study/Environmental Impact Statement process. “This time, changes to existing wilderness boundaries will be considered in the alternatives.”
Following are the details as announced in a release from the park:
Thursday, January 19, 2006

Renewable Energy Services

Region Watch Could the renewable energy systems of Europe work in Northern Michigan? To find out, a fact-finding tour of Germany, Denmark and Sweden was conducted last fall by members of TC Light & Power, Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA) and the TC Area Public Schools.
Findings of their 12-day tour have been released in a new DVD/video which will air on TC TV2 public television this month. The first showing was set for Sunday, Jan. 15 at 4:30 p.m., with broadcasts on Jan. 21 at 8 p.m., Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m.
The focus in Europe is on wind power and alternative fuels, said Steve Smiley, an energy analyst who organized the tour. In Germany, the group attended the largest wind power exposition in the world at Husum. In Denmark, they were guests of the Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy. Sweden offered a look at alternative fuels courtesy of the Swedish Bioenergy Association.
Smiley said that TC Light & Power has launched a one-year study into what it would take to provide 100% of the region’s heat and power needs with renewable energy. The study is backed by a grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission.
Northern Europe offers a model:
• bus fleets powered by biogas made from local trash;
• wind power providing 100% of a region’s net annual electricity;
• biomass plants three times the size of the old TC Bayside Coal Plant meeting 90% of the electricity and heating needs of a town of 70,000;
• wood chip gasification for heat and power;
Smiley said the success of small towns in Europe inspired the Traverse City group to believe that renewable energy could work here.
“A small community that cooperatively owns more wind power than in all the state of Michigan gave the local group confidence that it can be done, because it has been done,” he said.
See for yourself in the broadcast of the DVD/video, written and filmed by Nicole Davenport and produced by Brauer Productions. TC Light & Power has copies for group presentations by calling Jim Cooper at 231-932-4560.
Thursday, December 15, 2005

Clinch Park Zoo

Region Watch Supporters of a proposed wildlife center planned to seek the support of the Traverse City Commission this week for a larger alternative to the Clinch Park Zoo.
Karen Culp of the Citizens for a Wildlife Education Center said the group of at least 20 hopes to establish a new home for the animals of the Clinch Park Zoo. Recently a zoo review committee recommended in a 7-5 vote that the substandard zoo on West Bay be closed.
“We‘re working to make this a regional wildlife center,” Culp says. “We want to bring the city‘s zoo into the 21st century.”
She adds that the group includes experts in zoology, members of the zoo review
committee and Richard Miller, who is currently president of the Grand Traverse
Zoological Society.
As the Express went to press, members of the group were planning to meet with the city commission at a Dec. 12 study session to discuss the fate of the Clinch Park Zoo.
Ideally, they‘d like to establish a regional wildlife center with the cooperation of both the city and Grand Traverse County. One suggested site might be a 500-acre stretch along the Boardman
River in the local Conservation District. A multi-acre site would make it possible to construct large habitats for the Michigan animal exhibits.
Culp cautions that the planning is still very tentative, including the funding and possible locations for a wildlife center. At this point, the Citizens are investigating the possibility of collaborative efforts with local governments and organizations.
“We know we‘re at the very beginning of this and we‘ve sent the city commission a letter asking for their support.”
-- by Robert Downes
Thursday, November 17, 2005

Film Fest: The Sequel

Region Watch The box office was so boffo on last summer‘s Traverse City Film Festival that a sequel is in the works: That would be August 1-6 for you advance planners, a week later than last year‘s event.
Festival organizers hope to use the State Theatre and Opera House downtown once again for the 2006 event, in addition to a new venue. Plans are also in the works to add an extra day of programming along with more parties and panels with actors, directors, and writers.
Organizers report that last summer‘s festival tallied some 50,000 admissions, amounting to the most successful film festival launch ever -- including those of the world-renowned Sundance and Telluride film fests. A majority of the festival’s 54 screenings and all special events were sold out, with ticket sales reaching $150,000. Another $54,000 was generated by concessions and merchandise sales.
Traverse City Chamber of Commerce President Doug Luciani estimated in a news release that the first-time event had a $5 million impact on the community in five days.
Thursday, November 3, 2005

Another brick in the Wall

Region Watch Catch the nightly TV news reports on the ongoing struggle in Israel and chances are you‘ll see images of gunfire and suicide bombers.
But the untold story is that of an ongoing peace movement that unites Palestinians as well as Israelis. Two leaders of that movment, Palestinian Ayed Morrar and Israeli Jonathan Pollak, are bringing their story to Traverse City next week as guests of Mideast: Just Peace to show the face of nonviolent struggle.
Morrar and Pollak will speak on the Palestinian/Israeli Nonviolent Movement on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Grace Episcopal Church Hall, 325 Washington Street, TC; and on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 10 a.m. at the Friends Meeting House at Fifth and Oak streets, with the public invited to attend. The event is sponsored by Mideast: Just Peace, Women in Black, and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship.
Speaking by phone from Los Angeles, Pollak says the idea is to show Americans that thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis are working together in a grassroots campaign against the construction of Israel‘s wall of separation. He himself has been involved in 200 protests on the West Bank over the past three years and has helped mobilize hundreds of Israelis against the wall.
Ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004, construction of the “Apartheid Wall“ continues against the protests of Palestinians who feel it‘s a land grab of their farms, orchards, businesses, property, and access to water.
Thursday, October 27, 2005

NMEAC Rise of the Enviro-Rebels- founders look back on 25 years

Region Watch Robert Downes Twenty five years ago, a new force for the  environment arose in Northern Michigan as a puff of wind that has since acquired a hurricane-like power for whipping up public opinion and action in defense of our natural resources.
  NMEAC  -- the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council -- has been involved in virtually every environmental battle in the region over the past generation.  NMEAC has also played midwife to many citizen activist groups through the years, such as the Friends of the Crystal River.  If there‘s a fight brewing in your town over a new development, a big box store, or a sprawl-producing bypass, chances are that members of the 700-strong NMEAC are lending their voices and skills to the outraged citizens.
   This Friday, NMEAC celebrates 25 years of rabble-rousing at the Hagerty Center in Traverse City.  We checked in with executive director Ken Smith and co-founder Sally Van Vleck on how NMEAC got started and where it‘s going.
Thursday, October 13, 2005

So long dead presidents

Region Watch Those who have followed the progress of an alternative currency for Northern Michigan over the past two years will finally see their dream come true this weekend with the planned launch of Bay Bucks on October 14.
Bay Bucks is a form of legal tender which will be honored by participating businesses in the region. Bill Palladino, regional director of the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center in Traverse City, says that starter kits are available for businesses interested in priming the Bay Bucks pump.
Palladino notes in a release that charter businesses, non-profits and governmental units that sign on will literally get a bang for their buck by receiving 50% extra Bay Bucks in exchange for U.S. dollars. “For instance if you joined at Business Level I, you‘d pay $40 and get $60 worth of Bay Bucks to spend, and a free ad in our directory,“ he states.
In most countries, that level of float on a currency would be considered anything but a confidence-builder. So what‘s the rationale for exchanging U.S. dollars, which are the strongest currency in the world against which all other foreign currencies are pegged?
Bay Bucks supporters say the idea is to support local businesses by keeping currency in the the region, specifically, “...to add wealth to the local economy, to support locally owned businesses, and to enhance economic sustainability and social justice.“
Among the participants are Oryana Food Coop, TART Trails, Cedar Market, Gary Howe Photography, Food for Thought and singer-songwriter Claudia Schmidt.
For more information on Bay Bucks, check out the Great Lakes Bioneers Conference which will be debuting the currency at Northwestern Michigan College this weekend. See www.glbconference or www.baybuck.org.
Thursday, October 6, 2005

Stream Search Census

Region Watch COUNT SOME CRITTERS as part of a Stream Search census of macroinvertebrates being conducted in October by the Watershed Center of Grand Traverse Bay.
Macroinvertebrates is a fancy way of saying “bugs,“ specifically, those that live in local streams. Each spring and fall, volunteers count creepy-crawlies in approximately nine streams leading into Grand Traverse Bay. The numbers help determine the health of the watershed.
This year‘s search will be held Saturday, Oct. 15. If you‘d like to get involved, call the Watershed Center at 935-1514, or check out www.gtbay.org