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, April 20, 2009

Michelle Bommarito takes the cake

Dining Rick Coates Michelle Bommarito Takes the Cake

By Rick Coates

Food Network celebrity chef and world-renowned wedding cake designer and pastry chef Michelle Bommarito is a ball of energy. Her friends, family and colleagues find it hard to keep up with her. So what is Bommarito’s secret to what seems to be endless amounts of energy?
“I consume ‘super power foods,’ and I eat five to six small meals a day,” said Bommarito. “I also learned some life lessons along the way that the secret to healthy living is moderation in all things, including work.”
Bommarito will be making several appearances this weekend at the Chef’s Challenge at Shanty Creek Resort. On Friday, April, 24 she will be giving a free seminar, “Eat Well, Move Your Body & Watch What Happens.” Bommarito also expects have several impromptu discussions throughout the weekend on wellness and eating healthy.
While Bommarito is most known for celebrity chef appearances on the Food Network by winning the first wedding cake challenge and finishing second twice, and most recently appearing on a new show, Last Cake Standing, she is now focusing her talents and energy on helping people learn to live and eat right by offering seminars all over the country.
“I am still making wedding cakes and other pastries but I’m being more selective on what a take on. The wedding cakes I make require me to be on location for three days as I have to put the cake together,” said Bommarito. “I have always had a passion for eating right, but at first I didn’t understand the moderation aspect of it all. I took things to the extreme.”
Monday, April 13, 2009

Feel the kick of Mulebone

Music Rick Coates When multi-instrumentalist, John Ragusa and roots music specialist Hugh Pool -- collectively known as Mulebone -- make their whirlwind tour across the north next week (with shows at the Cabbage Shed, Beaver Island, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and the Inside Out gallery), they plan on taking their audience on a musical journey to the origins of rock and roll with an exploration of the great blues masters of the past.
“I think every musician starts out getting connected to songs and when they start tracing the lineage of their favorite bands and songs it always leads back to the great blues master of the past,” said Pool. “That is exactly what happened to me. I was in boarding school and came with an interest in the rock music of the day. Well, as I met other students and started listening to their favorite music, I noticed that some of my favorite songs were being performed by other musicians. Then I started doing my homework and found out that my favorite bands were actually playing the songs of these other guys.”
After a disagreement with administrators in college, he was kicked out and decided to head in a different direction.
Monday, April 13, 2009

Tastemakers: Jordan Inn Chef‘s Challenge/Forty-Five North Unwooded Chardonny

Dining Rick Coates With the Epicurean Classic departing, the Chef’s Challenge in one short year has vaulted itself as the must-attend “foodie” affair in Northern Michigan. While the Challenge is two weeks off, organizers came up with a unique way to promote their three-day event (April 24-26 at Shanty Creek Resorts). The Chef’s Challenge this past winter offered non-profits in Northern Michigan the chance to auction off seats at fundraising events for the Preview Dinner on April 18 at the Jordan Inn in East Jordan.
This all-Michigan menu helped several regional non-profits collectively raise more than $5,000. A few seats remain for anyone interested in a unique culinary expedition. First of all, dining at the Jordan Inn is a treat in itself. Chef Joe Krumholz has a unique way of creating his menus at this historic inn located in the heart of East Jordan. Chef Krumholz allows the first havndful of dinners that make reservations to dictate the menu offerings for the evening.
Monday, April 13, 2009

Year of the hat

Features Rick Coates There was one common denominator on the runways of Paris, Milan and New York for the 2009 spring fashion shows: Hats. In past years, the occasional runway model would appear with a hat; now it’s the other way around, as only a few models appeared without hats.
Yes, hats are in style, especially those with wide brims.
Typically, Northern Michigan has been three to five years behind the fashion trends, but that has changed in recent years with clothing designers making their homes here and trendy, locally-owned clothing stores popping up all over. So will hats be “in vogue” in Northern Michigan as well this year? The answer is yes, according to hat guru Phil Anderson.
Monday, April 6, 2009

Tastemakers: Bear Claw Brewery steak stackers/Sirius maple dessert wine

Dining Rick Coates Bear Claw Brewery Steak Stackers
The general rule of thumb is that most places do one thing real well and everything else just okay. For example, nightclubs and bars that have live music are typically known for their music or good dance scene. Rarely are they known for their food. But there are exceptions, and during my travels through Northern Michigan I have come across many a tavern that has excellent food. For example, the Clear Lake Bar north of West Branch has some of the best walleye anywhere. The Side Door Saloon in Petoskey has great burgers. The perch on Friday night at the U&I Lounge in Traverse City is hard to beat. For years I have been heading to Happy Hour Tavern (north of Leland) for their burgers and whitefish sandwich.
Monday, April 6, 2009


Features Rick Coates Geocaching
Electronic Treasure Hunting

By Rick Coates

It is one of the fastest-growing activities in the silent sports world -- basically a year-round electronic Easter egg hunt. Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) started in 2000 and in the past couple of years it has taken off with an estimated five million enthusiasts in North America and millions more around the world.
Monday, April 6, 2009

Silent Sports

Features Rick Coates Silent Sports
Michigan is missing the boat on non-motorized tourism

By Rick Coates

While kayaking the Lake Michigan shoreline during a recent blustery spring day, silent sports advocate Georg Schluender gazes across the horizon. While Schluender can’t see Wisconsin, he ponders whether or not tourism officials in Michigan will ever embrace “silent sports” the way neighboring states have.
“Wisconsin gets it. Even Illinois is doing a better job marketing the virtues of silent sports in their state and they don’t have a tenth of the resources we have here in Northern Michigan,” said Schluender. “In Wisconsin, silent sports contributes $9.7 billion to the economy annually; has created more than 129,000 jobs; generates $570 million in state tax revenue annually and contributes $7.5 billion in retail sales which accounted for nearly four percent of the gross state product in 2008.”
Monday, March 30, 2009

Tastemakers: Food Safety Modernazation Bill of 2009 HRB875-S425/ International Riesling Foundation

Dining Rick Coates Tastemakers: Food Safety Modernazation Bill of 2009 HRB875-S425
RIck Coates 3/30/09

Over the past week I have received several calls and e-mails from concerned organic farmers and others about a new bill in front of Congress (House Resolution 875 and Senate Bill 425) known as the Food Safety Modernization Bill of 2009. The fear is that the legislation could possibly eliminate organic farming, farm markets and small farm operations such as small orchards and vineyards in this country.
With all of the recent food poisonings and recalls on mass-produced items that have contained e-coli and other harmful bacteria, it was only a matter of time before Washington D.C. was going to step in and do something. But is this bill really the answer?
First, here is a brief definition of the proposed bill from its sponsors: “To establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes.”
On the surface this sounds good, but if you dig deep into the pages upon pages of this proposed legislation you start to wonder if you will be able to grow food in your own backyard. In typical Washington D.C. fashion, the wording is complex and confusing and leaves room for a lot of interpretation. For example, this new agency would establish extensive and uniform inspections and growing and production requirements for all “food production facilities,” meaning any farm, ranch, vineyard or confined animal-feeding operation.
Monday, March 23, 2009


Music Rick Coates Wynona
Rick Coates 3/23/09

She is in that one-name club, like Oprah and Bono (both good friends who attended her wedding) and is known worldwide as one of the all-time great country music female artists. Wynonna (Judd) rolls into town this Friday to the Little River Casino Resort in Manistee with a new tour bus, a new CD, and a new outlook on life.
“I feel I’ve come full circle and I’m back to where I started: an 18-year-old girl sitting on the back porch playing and singing her heart out,” said Wynonna. “I’m ready to begin the journey again.”
That journey has included a life filled with ups and downs. On the upside, she sold more than 20 million CDs as part of the duo known as the Judds (with her mother) and another 15 million albums as a solo artist. Rolling Stone magazine referred to her as “the greatest female country singer since Patsy Cline.” The rockers love her as well, as the Rolling Stones, U2 and Phish all have asked her to join them on stage.
But despite millions of fans and millions of dollars, Wynonna has had her struggles with heartbreak, eating addiction and plenty of other struggles that she has both sung and written about in her autobiography Coming Home To Myself that made the New York Times Bestseller List a few years ago.
Monday, March 23, 2009

Tastemakers: Pontresina Surf-N-Turf

Dining Rick Coates Pontresina Surf-N-Turf
Rick Coates 3/23/09

While restaurants continue to take a contemporary, creative approach to their menus it is nice to go old school from time to time when dining out. A recent visit to the Pontresina in Gaylord (located at the Otsego Club) provided that opportunity. Surf –n-Turf became popular in the ‘60s at east coast steakhouses. While Surf-n-Turf originated with steak and a lobster served on the same plate, today it is considered any beef and seafood combination.
Pontresina, named after Gaylord’s sister city in Switzerland, has built a reputation as being one of Northern Michigan’s best fine dining destinations. They blend the scenic beauty of overlooking the Sturgeon River Valley with inventive menu items. Lobster tails are all about timing; too long, to tough; not enough time, too slimy. So it was a welcome relief to have a perfectly prepared lobster tail paired with a nice filet of beef tenderloin. When ordering beef from Pontresina, certainly one may choose to have it prepared traditionally but I suggest having it Hong Kong style.
Pontresina has it all, ambiance, exceptional service, a first class table top presentation and that all important basket of fresh rolls served with fresh whipped herb butter and roasted garlic. They also serve their homemade Maytag slaw made fresh daily.
Monday, March 16, 2009

Foo0d fight/Epicurean Classic

Dining Rick Coates Last fall after five years in Traverse City, the Great Lakes Culinary Institute at Northwestern Michigan College announced it would no longer host the annual Epicurean Classic. That sent shock waves around the Northern Michigan foodie community.
Community leaders from the mayor to tourism industry officials went to work to find a new location for the popular fall festival. They were unsuccessful and Epicurean organizers announced a month ago they were moving the event to St. Joseph (a shoreline community close to Chicago).
There has been a lot of speculation and a lot of “they said, we said -- they didn’t, we didn’t” going on as to how this could have happened. But after careful examination it appears that this was a good decision for both the Epicurean organizers and for those who oversee the Great Lakes Culinary Institute.
The real loser here is Northern Michigan. The Epicurean Classic brought a major spotlight on the region bringing top notch chefs, drink experts, the media and a lot of foodies from all over the country to the area. It shined a bright light on the local restaurant scene as well as the wineries and farms of the region.
Monday, March 16, 2009

Tastemakers: Betsie River Rock Steak/A toast to Bruce Simpson

Dining Rick Coates Crystal Mountain in Benzie County has become a four-season resort destination with amenities that appeal to families, couples and those girl or guys getaway weekends. While the focus might be golfing, skiing, the water park and the new spa, one should not overlook the culinary aspect of experience at Crystal Mountain, especially dinner at the Thistle Pub & Grille.
The culinary team has adopted the philosophy of embracing “local,” by partnering with local famers, wineries, breweries and other establishments to “provide customers with the freshest, most flavorful produce as well as other great Michigan products. We believe it’s important to support small, local economies as well as promote the environmental benefits of reduced food transportation miles.” The restaurant has designated local menu items with a special symbol.
Monday, March 16, 2009

Hogs gone wild

Features Rick Coates Hogs gone wild
Rick Coates 3/16/09

Donny Fisher, an avid hunter, learned firsthand about the durability of a wild hog problem that has alarmed some members a Michigan’s conservation community.
“I was hunting in Cheboygan County and put two arrows through one and it still kept running around in circles,” said Fisher. “I finally had to shoot it with a rifle. It weighed 400 pounds.”
There appears to be a wild hog problem in Michigan as experts estimate 5,000 to 8,000 feral swine (free-roaming pigs), that are not native to the state, are running wild. Some believe that if this issue is not addressed immediately that number may grow beyond control.
“If we turn a blind eye, we’ll have 50,000 in two years,” said Dennis Fijalkowski, executive director of the non-profit Michigan Wildlife Conservancy.
Dr. Patrick Rusz, director of Wildlife Programs at the Conservancy agrees.
Monday, March 9, 2009

Tastemakers: Corned beef & cabbage/Irish Whiskey

Dining Rick Coates Depending on who you ask, corned beef and cabbage is about as Irish as pepperoni pizza. But each year millions of Americans, primarily Irish-Americans, consume lots of corned beef and cabbage in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Folklore has it that corned beef and cabbage is actually an Irish-American custom developed in the 1800s by Irish immigrants who substituted corned beef for bacon. Still, others believe that the Irish immigrants adopted this boiled dinner concept as their own from New Englanders who made pot roast dinners and even boiled dinners.
This sort of debate is best left over a glass of Irish whiskey. What is important here is that corned beef and cabbage taste great, but as with everything there is a trick in preparing it correctly.
Monday, March 9, 2009

All things Irish

Features Rick Coates All things Irish
Rick Coates 3/9/09

During the 1800s the relationship between Irish and Italian immigrants was strained at best. So as Irish Americans from Northern Michigan gather this Saturday for the 30th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festivities in downtown Traverse City, some might be surprised that an Italian American was instrumental in starting the parade.
“Pat Corso was the manager of Dill’s Olde Town Saloon (where Blue Tractor is located today in Traverse City) and he was looking to create a St. Patrick’s Day promotion,” recalls Colleen Zanotti of the Irish Queens organization. “He went to some of his regular patrons such as Louise Hagerty, Peggy Wilson and Trish Fiebing, who helped organize that first parade, and formed the Irish Queens with Lousie Hagerty becoming the Queen Mother and Peggy Wilson becoming our first queen.”