Letters

Letters 08-03-2015

Real Brownfields Deserve Dollars I read with interest the story on Brownfield development dollars in the July 20 issue. I applaud Dan Lathrop and other county commissioners who voted “No” on the Randolph Street project...

Hopping Mad Carlin Smith is hopping mad (“Will You Get Mad With Me?” 7-20-15). Somebody filed a fraudulent return using his identity, and he’s not alone. The AP estimates the government “pays more than $5 billion annually in fraudulent tax refunds.” Well, many of us have been hopping mad for years. This is because the number one tool Congress has used to fix this problem has been to cut the IRS budget –by $1.2 billion in the last 5 years...

Just Grumbling, No Solutions Mark Pontoni’s grumblings [recent Northern Express column] tell us much about him and virtually nothing about those he chooses to denigrate. We do learn that Pontoni may be the perfect political candidate. He’s arrogant, opinionated and obviously dimwitted...

A Racist Symbol I have to respond to Gordon Lee Dean’s letter claiming that the confederate battle flag is just a symbol of southern heritage and should not be banned from state displays. The heritage it represents was the treasonous effort to continue slavery by seceding from a democratic nation unwilling to maintain such a consummate evil...

Not So Thanks I would like to thank the individual who ran into and knocked over my Triumph motorcycle while it was parked at Lowe’s in TC on Friday the 24th. The $3,000 worth of damage was greatly appreciated. The big dent in the gas tank under the completely destroyed chrome badge was an especially nice touch...

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Other Opinions

 
Thursday, November 9, 2006

Veterans Day Memories of Bob & Lou

Other Opinions Doug Stanton On this Veterans Day, I want to honor the men of the WWII cruiser USS Indianapolis, and remember two men in particular who were aboard her -- Lou Bitonti of Warren, and Bob McGuiggan of suburban Chicago -- when it sunk in the Philippine Sea on July 31, 1945. In the aftermath, all of these men bonded together forever, having survived the worst disaster at sea in American naval history. Sadly, Bob and Lou passed away on August 1, and on August 2, 2006, respectively-- within days of the 61st anniversary of their rescue.
 
Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bioneers: Much more than a conference

Other Opinions Sally Van Vleck The first Bioneers Conference, held in California in 1990, was convened to discuss the issues of biodiversity and bioremediation (the use of natural systems to detoxify the environment). Grounded in the premise that everything is connected, over the years the conference has grown and evolved to include other environmental issues as well as social justice and health concerns.
The philosophy of Bioneers is based upon finding our place as humans in the natural world. It encourages us to see the interconnectedness of all of the issues that affect our lives, as well as the interconnectedness of all life.
Though the main conference is always held in California, for the past five years the national organization has seen the benefit of establishing smaller satellite conferences across the country to expand the energies, inspiration, and local relevance of this important work. All sites are connected to the California conference via satellite to receive the main keynote speakers.
 
Thursday, September 7, 2006

Justice & the Ramseys

Other Opinions Shirley Murray “I want to have only very limited comment on today’s arrest because I feel it is extremely important to not only let the justice system operate to its conclusion in an orderly manner, but also to avoid feeding the type of media speculation that my wife and I were subjected to for so many years.“
-- John Ramsey, on learning of the arrest of John Karr

If only that had happened 10 years ago when his cherished daughter was murdered. Instead, a Boulder detective and the governor of Colorado decided that the parents were guilty, and tunnel-visioned the investigation.
The media assault has been relentless. When Patsy Ramsey died two months ago, the Record-Eagle ran a terse AP obituary reiterating that “Boulder police said early on that Patsy and John Ramsey were “under an umbrella of suspicion” in JonBenet’s death. The Ramseys said an intruder killed their daughter.” Patsy was described as the mother of “6-year-old beauty pageant contestant, JonBenet.”
I first met the Ramsey family in 1995. My daughter worked with Patsy on school projects at a Boulder elementary where their children were classmates. We attended a Christmas party at her home. Patsy’s son, Burke, and my grandson, Woody, became great friends, and they included JonBenet and another grandson who was her age.
 
Thursday, August 3, 2006

TC‘s West Side Parking Deck

Other Opinions Hans Voss On Tuesday, August 8, Traverse City voters will decide whether they support a bond proposal that would finance a parking deck on West Front Street. Many people are asking whether the deck serves the public interest, and whether local officials negotiated a good proposal.
The Michigan Land Use Institute (MLUI) supports the proposal. It will help downtown Traverse City thrive and discourage the kind of suburban development that harms our entire region. The choice really is this simple: More well-planned development in town, or more sprawling development in the countryside.
In fact, with our region’s population doubling in a generation, everyone is wondering: “Just where will we put all these people?”
One thing is certain: Our current path will not take us to an answer we like. The statistics are stark: In the last census period, for example, Long Lake Township grew 28 percent. East Bay Township grew 19 percent. Traverse City? Its population fell 4.1 percent.
 
Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Parking Deck Debate, Bryan Crough Pro

Other Opinions Grant Parsons Con PRO: Deck needed for downtown‘s future

By Bryan Crough

In the early 1990s we made a startling observation. Over a 60-year period, with all of the massive growth in our area, downtown Traverse City was disappearing... right before our eyes. Over time, fires had reduced four- and five-story buildings to one or two stories, and with considerable dedication, many buildings had disappeared completely, on purpose, to make way for parking lots. In fact, we estimated that more than 50% of our downtown was gone! And parking lots, producing little or no tax base, were lining the banks of the Boardman River throughout downtown.
At a time when everyone recognized the need for greater density in the center part of our City to keep our residential areas strong and our tax base less diffused, we were losing the battle. Malls and sprawl were ringing the City and the core was threatened.
 
Thursday, June 29, 2006

Press two for Spanish

Other Opinions Harley L. Sachs The story of the Tower of Babel applies today. The project was an attempt to reach heaven by building a high tower, a plan that failed when God made people all speak different languages. They could no longer work together. For a cohesive society, people must be able to speak the same language.
The Dutch have the right idea. Faced with a troubling influx of immigrants who want the benefits of life in Holland but do not learn Dutch, the country has changed the laws. If you want to stay in Holland and be a citizen you must learn Dutch. To not embrace the language and culture of your adopted land undermines it. We have that problem here.
English is now the official language for the state of Michigan. In the 1900s when this country had a huge influx of foreign immigrants those folks could not wait to learn English. Nobody wanted to be a “greenhorn.”
My mother was born in London and told us of a visit to an American farm. She asked what they did with all those beans and was told, “We eat what we can and what we can’t we can.” A friend explained, “Oh, they put them in tins.” Though my mother was English and knew the language, she didn’t know American.
 
Thursday, June 15, 2006

Power to the people

Other Opinions John Murray Are you shocked by the rollercoaster price of gasoline?
Aren’t you glad your electric bill doesn’t change so dramatically for no apparent reason at all?
When you think about it, electricity is probably at least as important to our day-to-day living as gasoline. Maybe even more important.
 
Thursday, June 8, 2006

Why you should support TC‘s parking deck

Other Opinions Matt Schmidt Open fields, streams and forests; these are the reasons to support economically viable and compact development in Traverse City.
Families and individuals are coming to Northern Michigan. As people visit or move into our region, development of houses and business will follow. The question becomes how does this development take shape, and this is at core of why we should support the retail, housing and parking proposal at 145 West Front Street.
We have choices in what we offer: Do we offer compact homes and condos in our city, or new subdivisions spread across acres and acres in neighboring townships? Similarly, the cars driving into our downtown will be stacked in a deck, or spread across acres of asphalt.
I support the efficient use of our land and city infrastructure, rather than paving our forests and farm fields. Redeveloping our city center, 145 West Front Street included, promotes sustainable growth an economic manner.
Why does the thoroughly-researched development from Federated Properties at 145 West Front deserve support? This development . . .
 
Thursday, April 27, 2006

Northern View/Region Watch

Other Opinions On March 27th, I delivered a statement in the Senate reporting on my recent trip to Iraq and Afghanistan. The focus of the trip was to assess the situation in both counties. During my trip, I had the opportunity to meet with our troops, including many from Michigan; senior U.S. military and civilian officials; and Afghan and Iraqi leaders. I thought you might be interested in this  brief report.
Each time I have visited Iraq and Afghanistan, I have been deeply impressed by the very high morale, dedication and professionalism of our servicemen and women. During my trip, I conveyed to them the extraordinary support they have from Congress and from the American people, regardless of our debates and differences over
policy matters.
I was encouraged by the progress in the political and security situation in Afghanistan. While much work remains, President Karzai has led his nation with a firm and steady hand, and I am hopeful about the future of Afghanistan.
Sadly, the same cannot be said of Iraq. The political and security situation in Iraq is deeply troubling and threatens to grow worse. The recent increase in sectarian violence has become the number one security problem, and Iraq’s political leadership continues to struggle with the formation of a national unity government. 
 
Thursday, March 16, 2006

Why T.C. needs a parking deck referendum

Other Opinions Jim Carruthers On Friday, March 3, the City of Traverse City posted an official notice of the City’s intent to issue bonds to support a private development by Federated Properties 145, LLC on West Front Street downtown, backed by the full faith and credit of the taxpaying citizens of the city.
The issuance of the bonds is to construct a parking structure in a private development, which includes a total liability of $16 million, not including upwards of $8 million in interest over the 25-year life of the bonds.
 
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.
 
 
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