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, May 24, 2010

Marc Alderman

Music Robert Downes ‘Still Breathing’ -- Marc Alderman: Musical friends come to the aid of injured percussionist
By Robert Downes
Marc Alderman doesn’t remember what happened after a pickup truck crossed
the center line of an icy highway last Dec. 3, sending him into months of
pain, surgery and hospitalization.
Monday, May 24, 2010

Clouded Judgement

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Clouded Judgment
Archie Kiel, who was busted for growing too many plants under the Michigan
Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) last August, has become a cause celebre for
marijuana activists across the state. Yet I wonder if any of the
passionate-about-pot crowd ever stops to think about how much damage they
are doing to their own cause by supporting the violation of the law from
the get-go.
Monday, May 17, 2010

A second chance on biomass

Random Thoughts Robert Downes A second chance on biomass
What do rocket scientists do when a bad idea blows up on the launching
pad? They go back to the drawing board.
Last week’s announcement by the FAA that it would not approve plans
for a $30 million biomass power plant next to Cherry Capital Airport
in Traverse City confirmed the suspicions of critics that any number
of things could go wrong with a plan to burn the region’s forests for
electrical power.
Monday, May 10, 2010

Hello? Some news you may not want to hear

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Remember those old commercials: “This is your brain on drugs,” where they
showed a blob sizzling in a frying pan? Well it turns out that drugs
aren’t the problem: it’s your cell phone.
Monday, May 3, 2010

The Roundabout Revolution

Random Thoughts Robert Downes The Roundabout Revolution
You don’t usually think of ‘going in circles’ as being progress, but
that’s definitely the case when it comes to a plan to introduce
roundabouts to the highways of Northern Michigan.
Monday, April 26, 2010

Things learned while looking other stuff up

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Things learned while looking up other stuff...
• It’s a Downer -- Literally: As a follow-up to Anne Stanton’s article,
“Up North Robbery,” in this issue about the high cost of flying to and
from Northern Michigan, consider what a round-trip flight to Chicago would
cost you this weekend from Cherry Capital Airport: According to
expedia.com, the lowest flight is $615 -- and that’s with two stops in
Detroit and Indianapolis! Or, fly direct there and back for $687.
Ouch. Consider that you can currently fly 6,700 miles to New Zealand from
Los Angeles for $758 (and that‘s round-trip). That’s only $71 more than
what it takes to fly 300 miles to the Windy City from Northern Michigan.
But as airport director Steve Cassens notes, the airlines have us over a
barrel, and the fewer people who fly out of the region only means less
service and higher rates...
Monday, April 19, 2010

Ready to rock

Music Robert Downes If you feel the earth shake the weekend of April 30-May 1, relax -- that’s
no earthquake -- it’s the finals weekend for the Rock Your Way to the Top
battle of the bands that has been raging in Northern Michigan every other
weekend since January.
Monday, April 19, 2010

Bart, we feel your pain/No free lunch

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Bart, we feel your pain
There’s a pundit on TV in the early evening hours who specializes in
painting anyone in public office as a knucklehead.
Permanently saddled with a world-weary expression, he answers emails
from cynical viewers with rolling eyes, a “tch-tch,” and an exasperated
“I told ya so” before delivering the inevitable punchline about the
jerks in Washington pulling the strings of the hard-workin’ American
middle class.
Monday, April 12, 2010

Only parents can end bullying

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Only parents can end bullying
It has taken years to sink in, but with the suicide of 15-year-old
Phoebe Prince in Massachusetts this January, we parents have finally
got the message that bullying in our schools is a deadly serious
Most of us know Phoebe’s story by now: she was a pretty girl who moved to the
United States from Ireland last fall and then suffered months of abuse
from her classmates after briefly dating a popular football player at
South Hadley High School.
Monday, April 5, 2010

Anti-government militias... then & now

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Perhaps Charles Poole’s biggest “crime” was that he was an employee of
the federal government.
Poole was a 32-year-old employee of the Works Progress Administration,
an agency set up by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide jobs
for millions of unemployed Americans during the Great Depression.
One night in May, 1936, Poole was lured to a location in Dearborn by
members of a violent nightshirt group called the Black
Legion. He had been told that he was needed to round out a sandlot
baseball team as a pretext for his torture and murder.
Monday, March 22, 2010

The Great Unknowns

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Our annual “Best of Northern Michigan” survey produced some
interesting results in the politics department this year. Out of
approximately 75 questions, the one with the fewest responses was: Who
Michigan pick for governor in 2010?
Monday, March 15, 2010

Cars 100% ‘Made in America‘ hard to find

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Cars 100% ‘Made in America‘ hard to find
My wife and I got quite a shock while window shopping at a local
auto dealership the other day. Ideally, we’d like to buy a car that is
at least assembled in the United States, and one that gets good
mileage at a price in the low 20’s.
Monday, March 8, 2010

When the law goes nuts

Random Thoughts Robert Downes In the spring of 2005, undercover officers from the Flint Area
Narcotics Group raided a dance club called the Club What’s Next and
rounded up 117 young men and women under the pretense that they were
“frequenting a drug house.”
Monday, March 1, 2010

What‘s for dinner? Kathy Rymal

Dining Robert Downes ‘What’s for Dinner?’ Kathy Rymal has the answer -- in your own home
Do you long for the comfort and quality of home cooking, but don’t
have time to spend in the kitchen due to your crazy, hectic lifestyle?
Then relax, personal chef Kathy Rymal offers an in-home service that
brings healthful, imaginative meals direct from your own stove to your
Monday, March 1, 2010

Getting a grip on globalization

Random Thoughts Robert Downes Getting a grip on globalization
I saw two men hitch-hiking in opposite directions on the road between
Kalkaska and Mancelona the other day. It seemed odd because you rarely
see a single hitch-hiker, let alone two within a few miles. And I’ve
noticed increasing numbers of people commuting via bicycle this
winter, grinding through heavy slush and snow, sometimes along busy
major roads. I get the feeling that these riders aren’t devotees of
the bicycling lifestyle, but rather, evidence of America’s declining
standard of living under globalization.