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, July 5, 2010

Common Cent$

Music Robert Downes Masters of the Game: Common Cent$ rules the cover band universe
By Robert Downes
Young musicians interested in a masters’ class in how to succeed would
do well to study Common Cent$, a band of rock veterans who have local
audiences eating out of the palms of their hands.
Monday, July 5, 2010

It‘s the berries...

Random Thoughts Robert Downes It’s the berries...
What do people do when times get tough? They hold big parties and try
to fuggedaboudit for awhile.
It’s a global impulse: in Rio de Janeiro, where millions live in dire
poverty, slum-dwellers who may not even have electricity or running
water spend the entire year working on parade costumes and floats for
their annual Carnival.
Monday, June 28, 2010

Tex-Mex spirit of Los Lonely Boyskicks off National Cherry Festival

Music Robert Downes Tex-Mex spirit of Los Lonely Boyskicks off National Cherry Festival
The three-man power-pop of Los Lonely Boys will light up the crowd this Saturday, July 3 as the opening act on the Bayfront Stage at the National Cherry Festival.
Los Lonely Boys is the vanguard of a week of music that includes the return of several old favorites as well as some new faces. That lineup includes:
• Sunday, July 4: Gregg Rolie’s tribute to Santana (see related article).
Monday, June 28, 2010

We‘re all journalists now

Random Thoughts Robert Downes It was old news long before it hit the newspaper or the airwaves.
Last Wednesday, citizens writing on local Internet and social
networking sites helped spread the news that Traverse City Light &
Power (TCL&P) had shelved a plan to build a controversial new biomass
The news was passed on via environmentalists on Facebook and Twitter
and by TCL&P’s own e-mailed press release. The Traverse City
Record-Eagle also issued an email blast, scooping its print edition
story by some 20 hours.
Monday, June 21, 2010

The Moody Blues

Music Robert Downes The Moody Blues bring the power of poetry
By Robert Downes
Blasting, billowing, bursting forth
With the power of ten billion
butterfly sneezes
Man, with his flaming pyre
Has conquered the wayward breezes
Climbing to tranquility,
far above the clouds
Conceiving the heavens,
clear of misty shroud.

-- “Higher and Higher” by Graeme Edge

Monday, June 21, 2010

So long to Smoky Joe‘s Cafe

Random Thoughts Robert Downes So long, Smoky Joe’s Cafe
I’ve been hanging out in smoky joints most of my life and have
probably inhaled enough second-hand cigarette smoke to fill a
Monday, June 14, 2010

The Art Crowd Gets Serious

Art Robert Downes The Art Crowd Gets Serious: ArtisanDesign Network offers a bold new venture in TC
By Robert Downes
Walk into the new ArtisanDesign Network Cooperative Gallery on Front Street in downtown Traverse City and it’s not hard to imagine that you’re in an upscale gallery in New York City or Chicago.
The new gallery is a bold yet thoughtful venture embarked upon by more than 40 of the region’s top artists and artisans. Committed to the exhibition of fine art, the gallery aims to elevate Northern Michigan’s art scene into the rare air of national significance.
In other words, don’t expect to find Petoskey stone knick-knacks, paintings of old barns, faux impressionist harbor scenes and other staples of the Northern Michigan art scene. The gang at the ArtisanDesign Network are gunning for glory with serious art, and are laying serious cash on the line to see that their work reaches the public.
Monday, June 14, 2010

Beyond Petroleum

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Beyond Petroleum
More than 20,000 suggestions on how to stop the oil spill in the Gulf
of Mexico have been received by British Petroleum since its Deepwater
Horizon oil platform went up in flames this spring.
But some of us are wondering, what comes after that titanic rip in the
ocean is repaired?
Monday, June 14, 2010

Beyond Petroleum

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Beyond Petroleum
More than 20,000 suggestions on how to stop the oil spill in the Gulf
of Mexico have been received by British Petroleum since its Deepwater
Horizon oil platform went up in flames this spring.
But some of us are wondering, what comes after that titanic rip in the
ocean is repaired?
Monday, June 14, 2010

Setting the Stage for Summer Theatre

Features Robert Downes Setting the Stage for Summer Theatre
“There’s no business like show business, there’s no business I know.” That’s one of the tunes in the lineup of plays and musicals across the region this summer; but do you know what Broadway hit it comes from? (Hint: it involves a lady who can shoot the wings off a fly.)
If “the play’s the thing” for you, then there’s a robust season in store at theatres across Northern Michigan this summer. Here’s a sneak preview:
Monday, June 14, 2010

Elberta Summer Solstice Festval

Features Robert Downes Return of the Sun: The Elberta Solstice Festival
One of Northern Michigan’s newest festivals also has one of its most
dramatic locations: Elberta’s Solstice Festival is held in the town’s
expansive Waterfront Park on Frankfort’s harbor, with great views of
the lighthouse and Lake Michigan.
Monday, June 7, 2010

A view of the Bay

Random Thoughts Robert Downes A View of the Bay
Is a “view of the bay” still worth “half the pay” in Northern Michigan? I
have a story to share about that old saying.
Years ago, I was indirectly involved in landing the 2,000 or so employees
of Munson Medical Center what was perhaps the biggest raise in the
hospital’s history.
Monday, May 31, 2010

Up in smoke/ Stupak‘s view/ Looking ahead

Region Watch Robert Downes Up in smoke: two proposed coal plants in Rogers City & Bay City
Plans for two new coal plants in Rogers City and Bay City were
scuttled last week, raising hope in Michigan’s environmental community
that power companies will pursue a cleaner path to producing
Monday, May 31, 2010

Bringing the War home

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Bringing the War Home
Perhaps someday, someone will unearth some top secret file at the
C.I.A. which will tell us exactly what we’ve gotten in return for
5,456 deaths and $3 trillion spent on our wars in Iraq and
Monday, May 24, 2010

Pickin‘ Party? Hayloft

Music Robert Downes Pickin’ Party: Hayloft open mic offers authentic Americana
By Robert Downes
It’s not quite the Grand Ole’ Opry, but it feels pretty durned close:
Every Thursday, a driven group of guitar, banjo and mandolin pickers
congregate at a country-western bar outside of Traverse City to open their
musical veins and let it flow in what is widely considered to be the best
open mic in the region.