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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Monday, June 27, 2011

Gateways offers a visionary trip to TC?s past

Books Robert Downes It only takes a few moments to fall under the spell of historian Richard Fidler’s “Gateways to Grand Traverse Past,” a beautifully-envisioned tale of the ups and downs of life dating back 100 years ago and beyond.
A former teacher, this is Fidler’s third book of history, primarily about the Grand Traverse region but in many ways roaming further afield. Here, for instance, are the scores of black hobos who traveled north on the rails in the 1940s, hoping to pick cherries in the region’s orchards, only to be succeeded by imported Jamaican labor and Mexican migrants. Here are tales of circuses which marched in a line of elephants down the muddy streets of Front Street in the 1890s. Fidler lifts history from its dusty grave and breathes life into the past through eloquent writing and intelligent observations full of perception and wonder.
Monday, June 27, 2011

Life in a Small, Superior Town

Books Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli South of Superior 
By Ellen Airgood
Riverhead Books/Penguin Group

As small towns go, McAllaster, Michigan, isn’t much.  Typical UP town.  It’s got plain people, a lot of characters, a few newbies out to change a culture in place for a few hundred years, and some who just want to fit in.  This town’s got elderly sisters and down-at-the-heels oldsters who live off the land.  It’s got struggling businesses, and people with hope, and those without hope.  Everything small town’s have is here in McAllaster, the centerpiece of a first novel by Ellen Airgood, who runs a diner in Grand Marais, and captures people, places, life, and small stories writ large in “South of Superior.”
Monday, June 20, 2011

Twittering History Posts give insight into the life of a boy at Fort Mackinac

Books Kristi Kates What could Twitter possibly have to do with a 10-year-old boy who lived on Mackinac Island in the late 1800s?  Plenty, if you check out web address www.twitter.com/@boyatftmackinac, the “Boy at Fort Mackinac.” 
The Twitter account chronicles several seasons in the life of Harold Corbusier, who was the son of an American commandant at Fort Mackinac. Harold and his family lived in quarters on the west end of the fort, and he began writing his diary on his 10th birthday:
“I am 10 yrs old today. We had turkey and other good things for dinner. The ground has been covered with snow all winter.”
“Harold’s father served as an American Commandant while the Americans were at Fort Mackinac in the late 1800s, towards the end of the time that the fort was still operated by the Army,” explains Diane Dombroski, the membership and grants coordinator of Mackinac State Historic Parks.
“By 1875, the fort had become the country’s second national park after Yellowstone,” she continues, “but the federal government couldn’t maintain it so they turned it over to the state of Michigan in 1895. By that time, the soldiers were leaving the fort, as there was no longer a strategic reason to have a fort there.”
So why Twitter young Harold’s diary? Because Twitter has become a worldwide phenomenon. The online mini-diary messaging forum - via which people type messages  in a mere 140 characters or less - has exploded in its membership and “followers,” providing a new venue via which past can meet present.
Monday, April 18, 2011

Adoption: Guatemalan style

Books Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli Adoption, Guatemalan Style: Between Light and Shadow: A Guatemalan Girl’s Journey through Adoption
By Jacob Wheeler
University of Nebraska Press
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
Jacob Wheeler may be too honest. He may be too perplexed by a heartbreaking reality. He may be so torn by the state of Guatemalan adoption that he can’t morally bring himself to make a definitive statement. All of that and more is evident in his book, “Between Light and Shadow: A Guatemalan Girl’s Journey through Adoption.”
From wanting to applaud American couples saving children from poverty and early death to decrying the loss of a country’s babies, it is evident that Wheeler is torn.
On one hand there is the story of 14-year-old Ellie, a teenager from Traverse City, adopted at the age of seven from Guatemala. She was seemingly sought out by corrupt facilitators when an older child, rather than a baby, was sought after. Whether her birth mother gave her up knowingly with the expectation of being paid, or was tricked and tried to get her back—truth lies somewhere in a murky middle.
The story’s center swirls around Ellie at 14, after seven years still feeling ‘the hole in her heart’ where her other family lives. And there is her adoptive mother, Judy, who wants to help heal this child she’s come to love as her own through reuniting Ellie with her Guatemalan family—at least for a visit.
Monday, April 11, 2011

Sterling‘s stories 4/11/11

Books Glen Young Sterling’s Stories: Delving into the heart of Northern Michigan… briefly
In Which Brief Stories Are Told
By Phillip Sterling
Wayne State University Press
By Glen Young
Phillip Sterling believes that although Northern Michigan is part of “the Midwest,” there is a sensibility in the Great Lakes state that separates us from our neighbors.

“It’s somewhere between Hell and Paradise. Not only is it geographically true, but I think it says something about the tendency toward exploring the extreme in celebrating American culture,” Sterling says about the competing tendencies of Northern Michigan.
“We’re called Midwestern but we’re not Midwestern in the sense of say Indiana or Illinois. We’re thought of as North, but we’re not North in the way of say Minnesota.”
Sterling is the author of the newly released “In Which Brief Stories Are Told.” He says our region’s connected separateness is a recurrent theme in the 15 stories that make up his new book, recently published as part of the “Made in Michigan Writers Series” from the Wayne State University Press.
Monday, March 7, 2011

1, 000 mile hike

Books Robert Downes 1,000 Mile Hike: Loreen Niewenhuis’s walk around Lake Michigan
By Robert Downes
Loreen Niewenhuis doesn’t have much of a background as an adventurer or a
long-distance hiker, but nonetheless, in 2009 she completed a walk around
the entire circumference of Lake Michigan.
Today, the 45-year-old author from Battle Creek is on a new adventure,
embarking on a tour in support of her new book, “A 1,000-Mile Walk on the
Beach,” published by Crickhollow Books, with stops at bookstores
throughout Northern Michigan.
Monday, February 28, 2011

Relatively speaking/It?s All Relative By Wade Rouse

Books Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli Relatively Speaking memoir is a family affair
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
It’s All Relative
By Wade Rouse
Crown Publishers
The thing about Wade Rouse’s new memoir “It’s All Relative,” is that you shouldn’t expect a clown show. Maybe his last memoir, “At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream,” began with a raccoon on his head but don’t expect this one to be all snickers and titters, though, of course, they’re in here too.
The ‘relatives’ of the title are his mother, father, extended Ozark family, friends, and his lover, Gary. The encounters with all of them are viewed not with a jaundiced eye, poking fun, but with loving honesty about the people of his life and about himself.
The book takes a look at a year of celebrations — not from any one year but celebrations from all the years of his life beginning with past New Year’s Eves, to Oscar Parties, Ash Wednesdays, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, Easter, Secretary’s Day, Barbie’s Birthday, Halloween and, of course, Thanksgiving and Christmas. All those holidays we dread and look forward to and keep in our memories for the sweetness of them and for the disappointments (well, maybe not Barbie’s Birthday).
So, let’s jump into this swift-flowing river of memory, starting with some of my favorites, both funny and poignant. There is the Oscar party when Gary dressed up as Oscar himself, draped in gold lamé, only to find that gold lamé “Is highly chaffing.”
Monday, January 31, 2011

To Account for Murder BY William C. Whitbeck

Books Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli Judge recalls a state senator’s assassination in 1945
“To Account for Murder”
By William C. Whitbeck
The Permanent Press, $28
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
Murder and politics made uneasy bedfellows back in the Michigan of 1945. It was a time, just after World War II, when governmental corruption ran wide and deep through the state; when contracts went to the one who most generously greased a palm or two; and when deals were hammered out in Lansing clubs and bars, and in backrooms where whiskey flowed and paid-for women freely entertained.
Then came crusaders like Judge Leland Carr and special prosecutor Kim Sigler, who later became governor of Michigan, with subpoenas and indictments flying in all directions, shaking up the Purple Gang -- which was behind a lot of the corruption -- and the politicians happily at home in the gangsters’ pockets.
Monday, January 24, 2011

Cloud 9

Books Rick Coates Cloud 9: New book aims to teach kids traditional values 1/24/11
By Rick Coates
At 64, Larry Kuhnke has opened a new “chapter” in his life: that of an author. After a career in the airline and banking industries Kuhnke decided to impart his wisdom unto others. But instead of writing about his observations and knowledge from his professional world, he decided on sharing his insights on how to best pursue a life of happiness. Advice that he hopes the younger generation will grasp early in life and carry with them into adulthood.
This Saturday, January 29, the Traverse City author will sign copies of his book “Cloud 9” at Horizon Books in Traverse City from 2 to 4 pm.
Kuhnke believes that it is “easier to learn while you are young than when you grow older.” He wrote “Cloud 9” with the idea that it would serve as a conversation starter between parents or grandparents and children. The 80-page book has 43 chapters, each representing an important value to live by.
Monday, January 3, 2011

The eBook Revolution

Books Harley L. Sachs The eBook Revolution
By Harley L. Sachs
The electronic book has finally come into its own, and chances are you
may even have received one under the Christmas tree this year, with an
estimated 6.6 million ebook readers sold in 2010.
If you are one of the electronically challenged, an ebook is read on
a screen instead of being printed on paper. An ebook, digital magazine
or newspaper can be downloaded off the Internet to your PC, Mac,
Kindle, Nook, iPad, or any number of screen gadgets, even in some
instances to your digital phone. Not everyone wants to read a novel on
a tiny cell phone screen, but times are a-changing.
Monday, December 20, 2010

Dean Robb

Books Rick Coates Dean Robb: An Unlikely Radical
New book covers the activist attorney’s career
By Rick Coates
Attorney Dean Robb leans back in his chair as he reviews documents at his
computer-less desk in his Suttons Bay law office. A portrait of Abe
Lincoln towers over him from behind, while on the wall next to him are
three photographs that are from pivotal moments in his life. One is from
1963 with Martin Luther King at the first ever conference of “white and
black” lawyers that Robb helped to convene, the second photograph is with
South African civil rights (anti-apartheid) leader Nelson Mandela, who
served as his country’s president from 1994-99. The third picture is of
Robb’s youngest son Matthew with President Obama.
Monday, December 13, 2010

The Science of Santa

Books Erin Crowell The Science of Santa : Flight of the Reindeer celebrates 15th anniversary edition 12/13/10
By Erin Crowell
Santa Claus is real.
We knew it when we were five and if we’re lucky, we know it now.
Being a young believer, I thought I had the answer around age five, playing in the snowy yard of my parent’s farmhouse—a few days past Christmas—when I looked up and saw a mark on the side of the chimney: a wet spot only a fat man could make brushing his snow-covered belly against the brick.
“It’s not from Santa,” my sister had said, rolling her eyes.
Despite her having three years of life experience on me, I remained confident that the Man in Red had lapsed in caution, leaving evidence of his existence (other than a trail of cookie crumbs).
It was a moment that brought the stars a little closer to earth and the magic surrounding Christmas shine a bit brighter -- and it has stuck with me to this day.
Maybe you have had one of these aha! moments...maybe you’re a doubter – a left-brained logical since birth. After all, how could one man circle the globe and deliver gifts to all the world’s children in one night?
With flying reindeer, of course.
Monday, November 1, 2010


Books Glen D. Young A Peek Inside:Mary Jane Doerr offers the keys to Bay View
By Glen Young
Bay View, An American Idea
By Mary Jane Doerr
Color Photography and Giclee Fine Art Prints by Robert Cleveland
Priscilla Press

Many locals and visitors to Northern Michigan believe they know the
story of the Bay View Association, Petoskey’s seasonal Victorian
neighbor. Regular promotion surrounds the neighborhood’s theatre,
music, and educational programs, while the Bay View Inn and the
Terrace Inn welcome guests and diners just as they have for
Monday, October 25, 2010

Peter Mattiessen

Books Robert Downes On the Trail of Peter Matthiessen
By Robert Downes
Author Peter Matthiessen reached a summit in his literary career years
ago during an expedition to find a rare and elusive snow leopard in
the Himalayas. A student of Buddhism, the search for the nearly
extinct cat became a metaphor for his own quest for enlightenment in
the 1978 book, “The Snow Leopard.”
Monday, October 18, 2010

A daughter remembers Alice

Books Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli A Daughter Remembers Alice
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
The new memoir, “I Remember Alice: A Story of Her Family, An Unusual Courtship, and Counseling of the Spirit” self-published by Palma Richardson of Traverse City, is an odd book. I was confused many times as I read it: who was who, who was related to whom, where I was in time. The book has all the problems of most self-published books, and yet I was charmed by not only the author’s voice, but the voices of family members who chimed in from time to time as if everyone sat around the family dinner table, maybe after a wake, trotting out their memories—good and bad.