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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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Biking the Backcountry

Features Robert Downes Plunging into the forest south of Wilderness State Park in Emmet County, cycle guide Cayce Leithauser leads the way as we weave through bogs, beaches and winding trails on our high-tech fat bikes. It’s a rollercoaster ride through a jungle of trees, the forest breaking open here and there to reveal sweeping vistas of Lake Michigan.
Monday, December 23, 2013

The Resolution Run

Get the New Year off on the right foot

Features Robert Downes “Our idea was to have a fun run on a holiday, and we noted that some of the most successful runs in town now have themes, like the Zombie Run at Halloween, the Turkey Trot, and the Cherry Festival races,” Lancaster says. “That’s when families tend to be together and there’s a celebration going on.
Monday, November 18, 2013

The Season of Giving

For most of us, disaster happens on a small scale

Features Robert Downes Consider that more than 15% of children in Michigan live in poverty -- this in the richest country in the world. According to the federal Department of Health & Human Services, poverty in America means getting by on $11,490 per year if you’re a single adult.
Monday, October 14, 2013

The Inner Beauty of Meditation

Meditation & yoga are a way of life for Amanda Rodasi Campbell

Features Robert Downes “I’ve had stars in my eyes since an early age and have always been a seeker,” she says of her days growing up in Frankfort. “I grew up in the Methodist church but started seeking early on and have always enjoyed comparing various religions and ideas,” Campbell, 36, took up yoga at the age of 12 after discovering an old, yellowed book on hatha yoga.
Monday, October 7, 2013

Obamacare: What’s in it for you?

Features Robert Downes Tea Party radicals in the Republican Congress -- who have no alternative plan for health care whatsoever -- have framed Obamacare as an unworkable mess, even treasonous. But the nuts & bolts of the plan were created by former presidential candidate Mitt Romney during his tenure as governor of Massachusetts from 2003-2007.
Monday, September 23, 2013

A Gargen Grows in TC

Volunteers bring an old farm back to life within the city limits

Features Robert Downes “We’ve got 30 full garden plots now and most are pretty active,” says gardener Mike Haynes, adding that many of these are divided into half-plots of 12 by 30 feet -- more than enough for a family garden. “I think we have about 40 gardeners here now.”.
Monday, August 5, 2013

Going Backpacking?

Jim DuFresne has some ideas on where you wanna’ go

Features Robert Downes Few backpackers know the trails of Northern Michigan as well as Jim DuFresne, who literally wrote the book on “Backpacking in Northern Michigan.”
Monday, May 6, 2013

Eisenhower’s Secret War

Producer George A. Colburn reveals a warrior for peace

Features Robert Downes He was once considered to be one of America’s blandest presidents -- even the butt of jokes in the ‘hipper’ times that came after the 1950s. But revisionist histories of Dwight D. Eisenhower are casting our 34th president in a new role as a wise warrior for peace who may well have saved our skins from nuclear annihilation.
Monday, January 21, 2013

Time Lapse TC

Jason Hulet’s mind-blowing video of a city in progress

Features Robert Downes

What happens when you take more than 15,000 photos on a city street and spin them into a time lapse video?

For real estate photographer Jason Hulet, the result is a surrealistic portrait of a day in downtown Traverse City that has viewers on YouTube and Facebook awestruck over its psychedelic colors and dreamlike progression.

Scan the accompanying QR code with your smartphone or visit the Video Seen link at northernexpress.com to see for yourself.
Monday, January 14, 2013

The Peak of Fitness

XTERRA champion Josiah Middaugh on the benefit of winter training

Features Robert Downes

Once a week, professional endurance athlete Josiah Middaugh likes to strap on his snowshoes or crampons and charge up one of the Rocky Mountain ski runs in Vail, Colorado.

“Winter is a key training season for me,” says Middaugh, who grew up in East Jordan and has since become one of the top multisport athletes in the world.
Monday, November 19, 2012

Fauxgrass aims to bend bluegrass

Dates Robert Downes Local bluegrass and string-band lovers will have a chance to hear Northern Michigan's new Fauxgrass band this Friday, Nov. 23 when they perform at the InsideOut Gallery in TC.The band has local roots,
Monday, November 19, 2012

The Amazing Billy Strings

Bluegrass phenom takes Northern Michigan music scene by storm

Features Robert Downes

Billy Strings was practically born into bluegrass: his mother’s water broke while she was attending a birthday party packed with musicians and baby Billy was born with the echo of guitars and banjos in his ears.

Either that or Billy made a deal with a dark stranger at a lonely crossroads at midnight… Whatever the case, he has an almost supernatural ability on guitar, banjo and mandolin that has set the region’s bluegrass and folk scene on fire.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Bayside Bombshells

Dates Robert Downes For a Northern Michigan take on burlesque, check out the Bayside Bombshells troupe this Friday, Nov. 16 at the InsideOut Gallery, TC.Led by "the fearless and slightly mad Twiggy Pop," the Bombshells o
Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Get Your Blues Challenge On

Dates Robert Downes Get Your Blues Challenge OnYou'll be singin' da blues this Saturday, Nov. 10 at the  Northern Michigan Blues Challenge held at the Southside Hideout in Buckley.Up to eight solo/duo acts and six b
Monday, November 5, 2012

Blake Elliott

Star on the Rise

Features Robert Downes

Fresh from the recording studio with a brand-new hollow-body Gretsch guitar strapped to her back, couldn’t be happier with the way things are going with her music.

She’s been working on her first CD since July and is currently enjoying the kind of wordof-mouth buzz that is bringing her and a new generation of singer-songwriters to the forefront of the music scene in Northern Michigan.