Letters

Letters 09-01-2014

Hamas Shares Some Blame

Even when I disagree with Mr. Tuttle, I always credit him with a degree of fairness. Unfortunately, in his piece regarding the Palestinian/Israeli conflict he falls well short of offering any insights that might advance his readers’ understanding of the conflict...

The True Northport

I was disappointed by your piece on Northport. While I agree that the sewer system had a big impact on the village, I don’t agree with your “power of retirees” position. I see that I am thrown in with the group of new businesses started by “well-off retirees” and I feel that I have been thoroughly misrepresented, as has the village...

Conservatives and Obamacare

What is it about Obamacare that sends conservatives over the edge? There are some obvious answers...

Republican Times

I read the letter from Don Turner of Beulah and it seems he lives in that magical part of the Fox News Universe where no matter how many offices the Republican Party controls they are not responsible for anything bad that happens...

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Other Opinions

 
Thursday, March 9, 2006

Go Nuke?

Other Opinions Lee Oslund For anyone who has cared to look recently, our country is at an energy crossroads. Fossil fuel costs continue to escalate with no end in sight, natural gas costs continue to skyrocket while oil companies are touting natural gas as “the next big resource,” and coal mining continues to claim the lives of miners every year.
Our elected representatives in Washington seem to be either unwilling or unable to take any meaningful action as regards to a sensible national energy policy. We are still as dependent on foreign oil as we were 30 years ago, and will continue to be for as long as we continue to be the consumer of 25% of the world’s oil.
Today we clamor for alternatives to fossil fuels to save our atmosphere, local ecosystems, and to save the lives of those people we charge with obtaining them. In recent weeks a dozen coal miners were lost due to mining accidents. We seem to always be cringing in anticipation of the next major oil spill with its devastating impact.
The time has come for us to be realistic about our energy future, and to be logical in how we think about our options. We need to recognize that for each of the options we have before us, there are some sacrifices we must be willing to make. Recent news reports have revealed lawsuits filed to stop the development of seemingly innocuous solar and wind power plants in the western U.S. These lawsuits have been filed because of ”adverse environmental impact”!
 
Thursday, January 26, 2006

Spying: An attack on our freedom

Other Opinions Blake Ringsmuth Regardless of our political affiliation, we should all be deeply concerned about the President spying on United States citizens without a warrant. Simply put, it is illegal for the President to spy on us without obtaining a warrant from a judge. 
Do not be misled. There is no compromise in our nation’s security by obeying the Constitution, as a warrant can be obtained in secret and even after the fact. The notion that any President has forsaken the very foundation of our country’s system of government whereby one branch (judicial) “checks” another branch (executive) from overreaching is an alarming fact. It is a modern day tyranny that must rouse our uniquely American sense of democracy and rekindle the historical embers from which our Declaration of Independence and Constitution arose. It is patriotic to stand against a government that violates its citizens’ rights. Indeed, it is our heritage and obligation, a tenet of our country’s greatness. 
To ignore “Big Brother’s” spying is to repeat our mistakes (e.g. internment of the Japanese) and allow the insidious degradation of our fundamental liberty. For if we are complacent, and anesthetize ourselves with the un-American mantra “I don’t care, I have nothing to hide,” we have just sold our democratic heritage, and those who gave their lives for it, out. We will have turned our back until these rights are a historical footnote, a quaint luxury of the past when there was no omnipresent “terrorist threat.”  

How we protect our civil liberties during a time of crisis is how our nation is, and should be, judged. If they mean anything, we must not cut and run from them when their real value is put to the test. 
Thomas Jefferson said, “Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty.” Now is not the time for timidity. These rights have earned more than lip service.
It is our freedom, constitutionally protected, that we point to when justifying our attempts to spread democracy, not our economy or standard of living. Is this freedom not the very concept we are trying to bring to those in Iraq at the expense of countless lives?
Freedom is indeed not free.  The cost of it might be less “efficiency,” and the guilty may occasionally go free, but we know we have the right to think and say what we believe, regardless of governmental eavesdropping, unlike North Korea. The right to be free from government spying is about as “American” as it gets. If we do not raise our collective voices in opposition, we have acquiesced, and should not be surprised to watch our liberties continually erode. 
As we learn more about the President’s spying in the upcoming hearings, we must be prepared to ask tough questions of him and ourselves. Is fear sufficient justification for taking our liberty? It takes courage to stand in the face of fear. Our nation can proudly make that stand for the whole world to see, and give discomfort to our enemies. 

Blake Ringsmuth is a Traverse City attorney.
 
Thursday, January 26, 2006

Term limits need tweaking, not trashing

Other Opinions Tom Kuras Michigan political columnist Jack Lessenberry gives Michigan legislative term-limits a near failing grade after the report “Political and Institutional Effects of Term Limits” was completed this past year. I have to agree with him, and admit that the proposal I voted for in 1992 did not create the result I hoped for. But I disagree with Jack that term limits should be repealed completely.
Term limits were a response to a problem for the people who voted overwhelmingly in favor for the amendment to the constitution in 1992. In hindsight, the response may not have been the best answer but the problem the majority had identified -- money and influence peddling -- still begs our action.
As this discussion rose this past fall, I saw sweet justice that it was quickly followed by the allegations against Jack Abramoff and company, concerning their criminal maneuvers in Washington D.C. to influence legislators with lavish trips and campaign contributions. As a country we must face the fact that we have allowed the creation of a government that is powered by greed, instead of one accountable to the public’s vote. One man, one vote, has been replaced by influence peddling and leveraging corporate contributions. It’s sad but true; many of our elections are not won, just purchased.
This problem exists at all levels of government. Whether it comes in the form of a state senator going to bat for an unscrupulous developer, or a congressman greasing the environmental skids for a bayfront hotel owner who wants to alter the swampland he purchased and built on, all the way to a member of the executive branch aiming multi-million dollar contracts at his old company, the dark cloud of campaign contributions to buy influence is a stench that permeates our government. And basically it hasn’t changed since the last citizen revolt in 1992.
Let‘s try another approach to the same problem for the beautiful state of Michigan and to lead our country once again.
 
Thursday, December 8, 2005

Do the Locomotion

Other Opinions Jack BiLeaux Planes, trains, and automobiles: they all have a place and a purpose, and all are necessary. Still, there exists a mass of people who could use and appreciate public transit – those who live within walking distance of a bus stop or a train station. Yet many wouldn’t know how close or convenient a train station is, considering that railways have been nearly forgotten. When oil supplies diminish, however, an alternative will be necessary. It is time to travel by train more often.
Inactive and active railways run from Traverse City and Petoskey to all their surrounding communities. There is a line from Traverse City through Interlochen, Benzonia and Beulah to Manistee. There is a line to Cadillac through Kingsley, Buckley and Mesick. There is a line to Williamsburg that could be extended to Kalkaska, which can already be reached through Cadillac. Lines to Suttons Bay, Empire, Elk Rapids and beyond would need to be rebuilt, but not reacquired. From Petoskey, all of Charlevoix, Boyne City, Walloon Lake, Alanson and Harbor Springs could be served. Traverse City and Petoskey could sprout fingers -- hands of transit that would hold the entire region together in the years to come.
Currently, the active railways in Northern Michigan are used for freight. The rails would need improvement to accommodate passenger service, and the biggest problem is of course: how to pay for it? Currently MDOT (the Michigan Department of Transportation) spends an average of $10-$12 million every year on the six-county Grand Traverse region for road improvements alone. An additional $4 million is spent on maintenance, yearly. And half a million dollars is appropriated every year for what are deemed “special projects.”
 
Thursday, November 17, 2005

Changing Seasons

Other Opinions Anne Morrison Perry Title IX mandates equitable athletic scheduling, including access to “prime time” which consists of prime days, times of practices and games, and seasons. The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) schedules six girls’ sports in non-traditional or disadvantageous seasons, but sets no such seasons for the boys.
Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Virginia switched their seasons (after being sued) to reflect the NCAA women’s fall volleyball and winter basketball schedule. Alaska, North Dakota, Hawaii and Rhode Island voluntarily changed their seasons. Only Michigan will be out of sync with the rest of the nation in women’s high school volleyball and basketball in the ‘05-’06 school year.
Because of inequitable scheduling, MHSAA currently restricts high school females in ways it has not limited males.
 
Thursday, November 3, 2005

Michigan should update telecom policies

Other Opinions Gail F. Torreano The Michigan Telecommunications Act, known at the MTA, is the main law governing the telecommunications industry in our state. The Legislature is currently reviewing bills to modernize the MTA because the law sunsets at the end of this year.
The MTA was last updated in 2000 and dramatic changes have occurred as new technologies, such as wireless and voice over the Internet, have emerged. Lawmakers have an opportunity to put consumers in the driver’s seat by removing unnecessary regulations. Consumers win when they are allowed to choose the services they want based on their individual needs and the best providers.
Today, Michigan has one of the most competitive communications industries in the nation and consumers are using these new technologies to meet their communication needs. As a result of this demand, there is competition in every communications sector including long-distance, local voice, wireless and broadband. Experience has shown that a marketplace responsive to consumer choice is the most effective way to ensure competitive prices and superior quality. Legislators should keep this fact in mind when creating a new MTA.
 
Thursday, November 3, 2005

Save The Zoo

Other Opinions Richard Griffin “In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.” This statement by an ancient philosopher defines the mission of northern Michigan’s only zoo: the Clinch Park Zoo.
Unfortunately, a city committee, by a vote of 7 to 5, has recommended that the Traverse City Commission close the Clinch Park Zoo next year. If the City Commission accepts this recommendation, the children of the Traverse City region may never again see much of our northern Michigan wildlife. With increasing urbanization, our children are less likely to observe, in the woods, otters, beavers, cougars, lynx, bobcats, wolves, bears, elk, coyotes, and eagles. Without an opportunity to see wildlife, our children are unlikely to understand, love, and conserve these animals.
 
Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bush made me do it

Other Opinions Jeff Gibbs Recently, I learned a horrible secret: George W. Bush is to blame for global warming. It’s Bush’s fault your basic hurricane, which used to destroy, say, “a city,” n dismantles parts of three states and a federal agency in a single day. I mean, most Americans are against global warming, are pro-environment, and worship a guy whose only possessions were sandals and a robe. Someone must have brainwashed us into our energy-intensive, planet-destroying lifestyles and I think it was Bush.
Looking back, I am sure it was him that tricked me into trading my 1984 Honda Civic (45 mpg) for a minivan, then convinced my entire family to buy SUV’s. My poor mom! And I am equally sure it was Bush who grabbed the NO BLOOD FOR OIL signs from the hands of my protestor friends and forced them to fly to Ireland, Peru and India for “enlightenment.” How else do you explain liberals so cavalierly using so much of the stuff they loathe?
 
Thursday, September 29, 2005

Nature‘s lesson in New Orleans

Other Opinions Tom Baily I write this column two days after Hurricane Katrina brought incalculable devastation to the Gulf Coast and the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. I spent last evening glued to the television as I was during the Gulf Wars and on September 11, 2001. Thousands of people need help. Trapped people need rescue. Water, food, shelter, sanitary facilities, and clothing are needed for the displaced and now homeless. Restoration of authority and civility is a priority.
I resist the urge to go to the scene. Having been a first responder in the past - Emergency Medical Technician, firefighter and search-and-rescue worker during my national park ranger days - there’s a temptation to pick up and go. But my last attempt at this sort of thing didn’t work out so well. Years ago, as the world responded to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, I noted that the U.S. Navy was taking many vessels out of mothballs in order to deliver supplies and people for what would become the first Gulf War. I called to offer my services as a navigator and, upon providing details, I was politely told that I “exceeded the age requirements” and that the Navy, regrettably, could not accept my enlistment. I understood, perhaps wryly, that one’s time for “doing” in such situations may be limited.
 
Thursday, September 15, 2005

CAFTA means more bad news for Michigan

Other Opinions Sylvia Inwood Michigan has suffered worse from NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) than any other state. That treaty for “free trade” of the multinational corporations cost Michigan over 118,000 jobs since 1993.
Our net loss of 63,000 jobs is 1.44% of the state’s total employment at the end of last year -- almost double the national average. Hard times for small farmers and small businesses throughout Michigan can be traced back to NAFTA.
 
Thursday, September 1, 2005

High Gas Prices

Other Opinions Congressman Bart Stupak This week, as I was making my way around my Congressional District, which spans all of the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula, I stopped to fill up my gas tank only to find that since
I had left that morning, gas had gone from an already high $2.54 to a shocking $2.79 per gallon.
Northern Michiganders have been patient with these outrageous gas prices for the most part, but with the latest gas spikes of between $.20 and $.40 cents per gallon each of us and our small towns that rely on tourism to sustain their local economies can no longer afford to remain silent.
Whether it’s docking at a harbor resort, touring the U.P. in an R.V., or taking the Sea-Doo or four-wheeler out for a spin, people are thinking twice about summer recreation plans fearing the cost of a fill-up.
 
Thursday, August 11, 2005

The real threat to Michigan wineries comes from out-of-state

Other Opinions Mark L. Ribel Considering his position as a paid spokesperson for a northern Michigan winery, Rick Coates’ biased, misleading commentary on the Internet alcohol sales/direct shipment debate is certainly understandable, yet still unacceptable (“Grapes of Wrath,” July 17, 2005). His slanted interpretation of the legislative response to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision fails to acknowledge the very real threat to Michigan businesses -- including Michigan wineries -- and to the state budget if we open the doors to a flood of out-of-state alcohol vendors.
To fully understand where we are headed, we must clarify where we have been on this issue. Michigan’s wholesalers have long supported Michigan’s wineries‘ right to sell their product. They supported the initial law that carved out a special exemption on shipping for in-state wineries, they spent more than a quarter of a million dollars defending this special exemption in the courts, and they even finance the Michigan Grape & Wine Council through wholesaler licensing fees. Even the proposed prohibition on Internet and mail order alcohol sales and direct shipment would allow wineries to sell their wine at the winery premises, at properly licensed tasting rooms and at restaurants located on or adjacent to the winery premises.
Specialty wine producers are not the only businesses with a stake in the outcome of this issue. Distributors -- such as myself -- provide a number of good-paying jobs for our community, including drivers, warehouse workers and administrative staff. Around the state, distributors employ more than 5,000 people, with wages and benefits exceeding $240 million. Statewide, distributor businesses’ sales exceed $1.5 billion, we pay more than $11 million in SBT, property taxes and fees, and we contribute another $4 million to local charities and community events.
 
Thursday, August 4, 2005

What‘s Best for Acme

Other Opinions Margy and Jim Goss (The following is a response to Governor Bill Milliken‘s guest opinion in last week‘s Express regarding an Aug. 2 vote on whether the Acme Township Board should go ahead with a nine-month moratorium on big box stores to study their impact on the township. -- ed.)

My husband and I are voting NO on the Acme Township moratorium this Tuesday, August 2 and want to tell you why.
We were born and raised in Traverse City, with family roots in Bates, Williamsburg, and Acme. We feel fortunate to have finally returned to Acme, year-round. For 31 summers, East Bay was our summer cottage destination, where our boys played with other Acme kids along Bay Valley Drive and Maitland Road, occasionally enjoyed Arne‘s Funland, and raced the bumper cars behind Don‘s Drive In. We felt like we had “come home“ when we added on and created our permanent residence here.
We wanted to do something special for Acme, as a way of giving back to the residents who have been such good stewards of the land. Our partners joined us in designing the most beautiful mixed-use village on 182 acres along the M-72 trunkline.
 
Thursday, July 28, 2005

4Play

Other Opinions Kristi Kates Foo Fighters - In Your Honor - BMG Entertainment

The Foos’ went from their original idea of an acoustic album to this, a double-disc that exercises both the Foos’ heavy-punk ambitions and their quieter abilities. Yet another foomination - er, rumination - mostly on relationships, Foo leader Dave Grohl still stays behind his wall, only peeking his head around lyrically to give a few scant glimpses into how he really thinks about things.  There are some solid songs here, but they’re mostly on the acoustic disc - the headbangin’ disc gives the impression that the band was a little too concerned about giving off the impression of rockin’ hard to actually cut loose and do so.  This latest Foo effort offers up a few solid tracks - but the Foos might’ve been better off if they’d concentrated on one collection of quality songs, instead of spreading themselves too thin. 
 
Thursday, July 28, 2005

Vote ‘yes‘ in Acme to control big-box stores and chart our future

Other Opinions William G. Milliken Residents of Acme Township will head to the polls August 2 to decide whether to allow the township board nine months to develop new rules for managing big-box stores. The elected board already approved a nine-month moratorium on such stores while it studies the matter, but a petition drive put the action to a vote.
I urge Acme residents to cast a “yes” vote and place the township’s, and indeed the region’s, interest ahead of an impatient few.
I’ll confess to a personal interest in the outcome. I spent a memorable part of my childhood in Acme, exploring its natural places with my family and friends. Many of those places still exist and afford new generations of children the same joy I’ve known. Nine months strikes me as a very small investment to protect something so priceless as Acme’s rural character and quality of life.
What’s behind this concern over big-box stores? For many like me, the fear is the hidden costs that underpin the behemoth retailers – costs borne not by the stores, but forced onto the communities they inhabit. These outlets promise low prices but can drive up local taxes to pay for the big problems that don’t show up on their products’ price tags. Problems such as heavy traffic congestion, lost farmland, shuttered local shops, and weakened downtowns
 
 
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