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, February 28, 2011

A life in balance/ Libby Robold

Features Robert Downes A LIFE IN Balance: Libby Robold’s path to happiness
By Robert Downes
You can’t help but notice that Libby Robold has that sense of inner glow
that signals not just a state of contentment, but also an excitement about
what life has yet to offer.
Monday, February 21, 2011

A home buyer‘s Paradise...Lost?

Letters Robert Downes A Home Buyer‘s Paradise... Lost?
Here in the Midwest, we live in a home-buyer’s paradise compared to much of the rest of the world. Realtor Jack Lane (who hosts a real estate show on WTCM-AM) notes that the median price for a home in Grand Traverse County in 2010 was $145,000. The region’s high is Leelanau County, where the median price was $205,000 last year. In Kalkaska County, however, the median price was just $65,000. The median price for a home in Petoskey is reportedly $169,000.
By contrast, the median price for a home in San Diego County last year was $305,000. It was $225,000 in Denver and $205,549 in Fort Lauderdale.
So we’ve got some bargains in Northern Michigan (Leelanau County notwithstanding) and you’d think there would be something of a land rush on here in the region.
What’s holding people back?
“History will show you that most people will wait and wait, hesitant to act before the entire crowd acts,” Lane says. “Therefore, not until interest rates begin to rise and headlines begin to say ‘Housing recovers!’ will you see the market kick back to the levels of ten years ago. Most buyers need ‘the psychological permission’ of the masses. The really smart people are either already wading into the water or are donning their hip-waders as you’re reading this.”
Monday, February 14, 2011

Egypt: Too many people and not enough resources

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Egypt: Too many people and not enough resources
I’s been largely unsaid in the news, but the sight of 50,000 protesters scrambling through the heat and dust of Tahrir Square in Cairo sums up that ill country’s problems in a nutshell:
“Hot, flat and crowded,” to paraphrase the bestselling book by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. That’s Egypt’s real problem -- not just the oppressive government of Hosni Mubarak, which is a symptom of a place that has a population which is far beyond reason.
That’s the Middle East’s problem in general in the strip of 13 desert countries ranging from Morocco in the west to Iran in the east. Many of these countries have virtually no resources. But people? They’ve got loads of angry, restless, frustrated people held down by their medieval religion and despotic leaders.
Consider that virtually all of “Egypt” occupies a strip of green only a few miles wide along 600 miles of the Nile -- no different than during the kingdoms of the Pharaohs dating back 4,000 years. A few steps beyond this thin ribbon of green lies a desert as bleak and lifeless as Death Valley.
Monday, February 14, 2011

Shoes & Snacks for backpacks

Features Robert Downes Shoes & Snacks for Backpacks blends family fun with a great cause
Even though the next school year is still seven months away, a small army of volunteers will be ringing the school bells of a good cause at a Shoes & Snacks for Backpacks fundraiser this Saturday.
The fundraiser will combine a family fun snowshoe event with food and beverage treats at the Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City from 1-5 p.m. The idea is to raise funds to fill backpacks with much-needed school supplies in the coming year.
“This year we will pass the 10,000 milestone of backpacks donated for kids in need since the project’s inception in 2004,” says Nancy Thornton, a Kingsley resident and marketing professional who serves president of the Rotary Club of Traverse Bay Sunrise. “We expect to distribute approximately 1,300 backpacks in 2011, and will also distribute 1,100 books as part of the project.”
Monday, February 7, 2011

Great Indoor Folk Festival

Music Robert Downes Great Indoor Folk Festival
A new day is dawning for the Great Indoor Folk Festival this year, as
the family-friendly event moves to the Sunday before Valentine’s Day.
That’s Sunday, Feb. 13, to be exact, with more than 50 musicians set
to perform in the sprawling Mercado  shopping area of Building 50 at
the Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City.  If attendance matches
that of years past, the third annual event is expected to draw as many
as 1,000 people throughout the day.
Monday, January 24, 2011

Turning a page

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Turning a Page 1/24/11
Congratulations to the Traverse City Record-Eagle, which has started
charging for a portion of its local online content. It’s about time,
and anyone who cares about the fate of newspapers in America should
hope this trend continues.
Monday, January 17, 2011

Digital Art at the Dennos

Art Robert Downes Digital Art at the Dennos: Korean artist Lee nam Lee brings classic paintings to life 1/17/11
Blending digital technology with classic paintings of the East and West is the challenge of Lee nam Lee, whose exhibition “A Conversation Between Monet and Sochi” will run at the Dennos Museum Center through March 27.
A sculptor by background and a master of digital technology, Lee nam Lee brings wall-sized paintings to life, even to the point of interacting with other paintings.
In the exhibit’s main work, a waterscape painting by French impressionist Claude Monet (1840-1926) is projected side-by-side with a water scene by Korean artist Sochi (1803-1893) on a 40-foot-wide wall. Other than their shared use of water, the paintings are completely different in style. Yet by using digital technology, Lee nam induces the paintings to move and interact.
Monday, January 17, 2011

Gas pains in Emmet/Charlevoix

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Gas Pains In Emmet/Charlevoix 1/17/11
Sometimes, it really does pay to look a gift horse in the mouth...
When oil and gas landmen descended on the Little Traverse area last
summer with promises of easy riches in return for mineral leases and
signing bonuses, many landowners in Emmet, Charlevoix, Antrim and
Cheboygan counties took the bait.
Monday, January 10, 2011

Sorrentino‘s Situation

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Sorrentino’s Situation
There was a shirtless photo of Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino of MTV’s
Jersey Shore in last week’s edition of Entertainment Weekly. The
Situation, of course, is world-famous for his abs, and looks to be ‘cut’
about as deep as the Grand Canyon.
Anyone who’s ever trained for a body building competition, a black
belt, or for their first marathon, can appreciate the kind of effort
that goes into Sorrentino’s level of fitness. But as any fitness junkie
knows, getting there is one thing -- staying there is another.
Monday, January 10, 2011

Sara Cockrell

Features Robert Downes A Life of Adventure: Superfit Sara Cockrell follows her dream
By Robert Downes
Hiking solo for more than 40 miles across Isle Royale in her first-ever
backpacking trip is the kind of thing you expect from Sara Cockrell, one
of the most energetic and upbeat persons you could hope to find in the
Grand Traverse fitness community
Monday, January 3, 2011

Rebooting the Mating Ritual

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Rebooting the Mating Ritual
Anthropologists often study the habits of primitive tribes, including
their mating rituals, dances, tattoos, dining practices and such.
It makes you wonder what they’d think of the odd and exotic practices
of the natives here in Northern Michigan.
Recently, I went to a popular nightclub in the area and noticed that
the dance floor was packed with women in their 20s, dancing to DJ
music by Ke$ha, Kanye, Prince and the like. Where are all the young
dudes? the anthropologist in me wondered. Sitting at the bar with glum
looks on their faces, dressed in their hip-hop baseball caps and
oversized sweatshirts, watching the girls dance.
Monday, December 27, 2010

Wrapping it up

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Wrapping It Up
Person of the Year:
For Michigan it was Ms. Mary Jane Medical Marijuana and her thousands of fans.
I’ve been amazed at the number of people who’ve gotten their “card”
since medical marijuana was legalized. Never knew there were so many
sick people out there.
“I went down to the clinic and paid them $150 with an extra $100 to
the state and I was good to go. It was easy,” one new card-holder
told me recently. Now he can buy an ounce of weed for $300 or so to
ease a nervous condition.
Monday, December 20, 2010

The Giving Season

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The Giving Season
There’s a man in our town who looks like a walking pile of rags. Ten
years ago, he was a well-groomed street person, handsome in a Brad Pitt
sort of way and wearing stylish clothes, like someone was caring for
him. But he’s dwindled down through the years to the visage of a
ragged scarecrow with long, knotted hair and a matted beard -- his
layered clothes in tatters -- shambling down the streets with the look
of a kicked dog in his eyes.
Monday, December 13, 2010

Creative Roundup

Music Robert Downes Creative Roundup: What’s new from local authors & musicians
By Robert Downes
If you’re taking the ‘buy local’ movement to heart, consider
supporting local artists, authors and musicians this holiday season.
Often, their work is a labor of love that pays more in terms of
personal satisfaction than in dollars. Here’s a brief look at who’s
doing what:
Monday, December 13, 2010

The White Hurricane

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Only a fool would try to predict the weather, but let’s get a little
wild & crazy here and give it a go anyway: It’s going to snow this
Ha-ha. If any of us had worries about not celebrating a white
Christmas this year, they were put to rest by last week’s dump,
courtesy of a lake effect snowstorm that blew the white stuff all the
way to Tennessee. Midway through last week, we had already received 4
feet, with buckets of snowflakes still falling.