Letters

Letters 10-27-2014

Paging Doctor Dan: The doctor’s promise to repeal Obamacare reminds me of the frantic restaurant owner hurrying to install an exhaust fan after the kitchen burns down. He voted 51 times to replace the ACA law; a colossal waste of money and time. It’s here to stay and he has nothing to replace it.

Evolution Is Real Science: Breathtaking inanity. That was the term used by Judge John Jones III in his elegant evisceration of creationist arguments attempting to equate it to evolutionary theory in his landmark Kitzmiller vs. Dover Board of Education decision in 2005.

U.S. No Global Police: Steven Tuttle in the October 13 issue is correct: our military, under the leadership of the President (not the Congress) is charged with protecting the country, its citizens, and its borders. It is not charged with  performing military missions in other places in the world just because they have something we want (oil), or we don’t like their form of government, or we want to force them to live by the UN or our rules.

Graffiti: Art Or Vandalism?: I walk the [Grand Traverse] Commons frequently and sometimes I include the loop up to the cistern just to go and see how the art on the cistern has evolved. Granted there is the occasional gross image or word but generally there is a flurry of color.

NMEAC Snubbed: Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) is the Grand Traverse region’s oldest grassroots environmental advocacy organization. Preserving the environment through citizen action and education is our mission.

Vote, Everyone: Election Day on November 4 is fast approaching, and now is the time to make a commitment to vote. You may be getting sick of the political ads on TV, but instead, be grateful that you live in a free country with open elections. Take the time to learn about the candidates by contacting your county parties and doing research.

Do Fluoride Research: Hydrofluorosilicic acid, H2SiF6, is a byproduct from the production of fertilizer. This liquid, not environmentally safe, is scrubbed from the chimney of the fertilizer plant, put into containers, and shipped. Now it is a ‘product’ added to the public drinking water.

Meet The Homeless: As someone who volunteers for a Traverse City organization that works with homeless people, I am appalled at what is happening at the meetings regarding the homeless shelter. The people fighting this shelter need to get to know some homeless families. They have the wrong idea about who the homeless are.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Letters 7/18/11

Letters Attack on the poor
Cutting funds to Medicaid per the GOP budget proposal is morally wrong. As
a former Eligibility Specialist with DHS I know firsthand how few
low-income persons even qualify for Medicaid. Since my case-load was
primarily adults-only, I found I was denying more Medicaid applications
than those I approved.
Back in 2004 Vice President Dick Cheney told Fox TV host Bill O’Reilly
that there is Medicaid for poor persons, thus no need for a national
health plan. I practically screamed at the T.V. “ONLY SOME POOR CAN GET
MEDICAID!”
To Medicaid recipients and those denied and those on ridiculously high
deductibles (formerly known as “spend-downs”), you need to call or write
Rep. Benishek and tell him your individual stories.
To Rep. Benishek, let me give you a brief summary of Michigan Medicaid
policy. Medicaid consists of over a dozen different programs. The first
thing we look at is: Citizenship...... then the really big hurdle: one
must be either under 22, 65 or older, pregnant, disabled, or parents of
minors. This excludes a huge proportion of persons. It doesn’t matter if
an applicant is penniless and without a job. He or she must first meet a
non-financial element, period.
Also worth noting, for adults who are disabled, have minor children or are
65 and older, there is a Medicaid program that entails deductibles. In far
too many cases, the figure is UNAFFORDABLE.
This attack on the poor and working class is a disgrace. It is time to end
the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest persons. The largest cause of our
current budget deficit is due to these tax cuts, and that is a fact! It is
immoral to reduce food benefits, Medicaid, Head-start, W.I.C. program,
Planned Parenthood and other programs that address the need of those
struggling in order to enrich the wealthiest.
It’s time to get our priorities straight! Do not reduce Medicaid funding.
 
Monday, July 11, 2011

Letters 7/11/11

Letters Green slime a turnoff
I spent a lot of time on Grand Traverse Bay during the late 1970s through
the mid-1980s and still remember the crystal clear waters, searching for
Petoskey stones at the waters edge, sailing in the fresh air and marveling
at the natural beauty of the area. Finally, after 25 years, I have made
the pilgrimage back. The entire drive of almost 1,000 miles from Georgia
with my wife and my 10 year old daughter and my 12 year old son was spent
with me preaching about the superiority of the Great Lakes to anything in
the South and generally bragging about the area.
We arrived at the cottage, the kids immediately changed into swim gear and
charged for the beach. The next thing I heard was a shout for me to come
quick. Imagine my surprise when I saw green sludge lapping up on the
beach, a light scum covering the rocks, and a “green zone” 3 to 5 feet
wide just under the water only a foot off shore. Initially I was shocked,
then deeply saddened. What could have possibly have happened? The water
was still clear, but there was no doubt that the lake had suffered some
type of serious damage and it was widespread. I got the kids into the
water through an area that was not as covered with the green growth (they
quickly came back out - they are used to Southern water temperatures) and
did a little investigating to see if anyone knew what was happening to the
lake.
What I found was shocking and entirely too familiar. I heard it is the
run-off from the farms, over development, invasive species, sewage from
septic tanks, over commercialization, over industrialization, or lower
water levels. I heard it is the politicians refusing to do anything
because of the money lining their pockets from one group or another and
that the Michigan DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality?) is
incompetent. I heard many theories and excuses, but this is what I know.
First, the lake is being damaged and the difference from 25 years ago is
shocking and second, the reasons for the damage can be determined
scientifically and remedies found if the people decide to make it so.
The people and communities which line Lake Michigan and all of the Great
Lakes have been blessed with an amazing lifestyle and an accompanying
great responsibility. You are all stewards of not only one of the world’s
great natural resources, but with one of God’s and Mother Nature’s
greatest works. A place that not only is beautiful, but that touches
peoples hearts and souls. I have to say that your stewardship appears to
be less than complete.
And while you continue to bicker and not take concrete actions to find and
fix the problem, the lake will continue to deteriorate. In 15 years, give
me a call. We in the South can show you how to build docks and ramps that
can reach 20 to 30 feet out beyond the slime and the muck to reach water
you will be willing to put a boat in. I am sure the middle of the bay will
still be fine.

Terry Hunley • Atlanta, GA
 
Monday, July 4, 2011

Letters 7/4/11

Letters Do your part
In elementary school, I learned to “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands...” In junior high school, I learned that a “Republic” is a specific form of democracy in which eligible voters elect officials to act as their representatives in adopting laws and setting public policy. In high school, I learned that English taxation of the American colonists “without representation” in Parliament was a principal cause of the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution that soon followed. In college and law school, I learned much more about the U.S. Constitution, including Article IV, Section 4, which reads in part: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union, a Republican Form of Government . . .”
With this basic understanding of our republican democracy, I turn to Michigan’s new emergency manager law, P.A. 4, that greatly expands the authority of Governor Snyder to allow him (and his successors) to abrogate -- unilaterally, indefinitely and much more comprehensively than before -- the fundamental rights of Michigan citizens to enjoy an elected, republican form of government at the local level.
Under this legislation, Governor Snyder has “deposed” -- no other word will do -- the local government of Benton Harbor that was elected by the voters, replaced with an unelected bureaucrat who will decide how that city’s local taxes are spent.
Right now, Benton Harbor residents are in the same position as the American colonists in 1775 -- they are paying local taxes, but they have no representation in a local legislative body that will decide how their taxes are spent.
My pocket copy of the Constitution was published in 2002 by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, DC. While I don’t subscribe to all of Cato’s doctrines, I do wholeheartedly agree with the following prefatory statement. “Government officials must respect their oaths to uphold the Constitution; and we the people must be vigilant in seeing that they do.”
It is time for “we the people” of Michigan to repeal P.A. 4 by referendum. Petitions are now circulating. If you are a registered Michigan voter, please seek out and sign a petition to restore republican democracy to every layer of Michigan government.
In 1787, after the Constitutional Convention had concluded, Benjamin Franklin was asked what form of government the founding fathers had created; he is said to have replied: “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Will you do your part?

Jay S. Johnson • Empire
 
Monday, July 4, 2011

Youth duck race

Features Friends of Youth Duck Race benefits charities for kids
Every year for the last 23 years, a flock of hundreds of ducks has raced down the mighty Boardman River during the National Cherry Festival to support a worthy cause.
This year The Optimist Youth Foundation Inc./ The Optimist Club of Traverse City are directing the race to support youth charities in the Grand Traverse Area.
The Friends of Youth Boardman River Duck Race will be held at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 7 at the Union Street Bridge near Hannah Lay Park. The finish line is at the Cass Street Bridge near the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce building.
 
Monday, June 27, 2011

Letters 6/27/11

Letters Oil & economics
The whole issue of petroleum, oil and hydrocarbons seems to bring a lack
of understanding of basic economics.
In a recent letter to the editor the author states that we get most of our
imported oil from other than the Middle East. He insists we therefore
should not have to pay what is the world market price because we are
buying from neighbors.
Apparently he has not purchased apples in the fall, rented a motel on a
summer weekend or ridden the ferry to Mackinaw Island. The market price of
things is set by demand and commodity availability, including delivery
capacity.
Further this author points out that oil is traded on the commodities
exchanges “where investors buy low and sell high.” Pretty naive to believe
that investors only buy low and sell high on the exchanges.
Commodity exchanges are a zero sum trading environment where every dollar
made is a dollar lost. If you make it big because you guessed right,
someone else lost big because they were on the other side of the trade.
How much can we endure when some continue to spread the same myths as
though they are fact?

William Deneau • TC
 
Monday, June 20, 2011

Letters 6/20/22

Letters Stop the attacks
My husband and I taught and traveled in Europe for eight years. A
Hungarian professor once told us that his countrymen willingly tax
themselves for “cradle to grave” education and health care. And teachers
are highly valued throughout Europe.
Campaigning Michigan politicians espouse the importance of quality
education, then are quick to criticize educators and even quicker to cut
funds. The “demonizing” of teachers has been spread by a right wing agenda
supported by the Mackinaw Center, the Republican Tea Party faction, and
the American Legislative Council throughout the state and nation.
This attack might be why some students even of elementary age show little
respect for their teachers and misbehave in class. How can increasing
class size help teachers handle the problems that arrive on their
doorstep? How much is society to blame?
Yes, ineffective teachers exist, but ineffective individuals are in every
walk of life. How have public schools suddenly become so “terrible”?
Misuse of test scores? Lack of parental support? Societal problems?
Charter schools? Proposal A? Michigan’s fine public schools consistently
had attracted families to locate here. The quality of education hasn’t
changed in most areas. Perception has. Stop the attacks!

Donna Dodd • TC
 
Monday, June 20, 2011

Letters 6/20/22

Letters Stop the attacks
My husband and I taught and traveled in Europe for eight years. A
Hungarian professor once told us that his countrymen willingly tax
themselves for “cradle to grave” education and health care. And teachers
are highly valued throughout Europe.
Campaigning Michigan politicians espouse the importance of quality
education, then are quick to criticize educators and even quicker to cut
funds. The “demonizing” of teachers has been spread by a right wing agenda
supported by the Mackinaw Center, the Republican Tea Party faction, and
the American Legislative Council throughout the state and nation.
This attack might be why some students even of elementary age show little
respect for their teachers and misbehave in class. How can increasing
class size help teachers handle the problems that arrive on their
doorstep? How much is society to blame?
Yes, ineffective teachers exist, but ineffective individuals are in every
walk of life. How have public schools suddenly become so “terrible”?
Misuse of test scores? Lack of parental support? Societal problems?
Charter schools? Proposal A? Michigan’s fine public schools consistently
had attracted families to locate here. The quality of education hasn’t
changed in most areas. Perception has. Stop the attacks!

Donna Dodd • TC
 
Monday, June 13, 2011

Letters 6/13/11

Letters The burden of guilt
After reading Stephen Tuttle’s “I Hate You” article (6/6), I have to agree
with him on pretty much all the sentiments he expressed. However, there
is one statement in there that I have to dispute.
He discusses our nation’s sordid hatred of minority races, as expressed in
the line “...we tried to systematically eradicate the indigenous peoples
already populating this continent when our European ancestors showed up.”
Excuse me: “WE?” Sorry, I was nowhere around when that happened, and
neither were my ancestors. There were bad things that happened, to be
sure, but we need to quit apologizing for actions and deeds carried out
several generations ago. It wasn’t “we” who did it. It was “them.” And
they’re all dead now. Guilt shouldn’t be carried on down the generations,
especially when my generation was so effective in ending so many civil
rights infringements on minorities in this country. Pinning our ancestors’
guilt on us is inappropriate.
It’s true that we are trained to hate and to look down on those who are
“different,” regardless of what that difference is. We are also trained
to have contempt for those we feel are technologically inferior to us.
As an avocational archaeologist, I have nothing but admiration for those
who were here before us. They coped with everything nature threw at them,
and developed the necessary technology to cope with it. They achieved a
near-perfect balance with nature. The only problem they seemed to have
had is that they didn’t see the need to develop the technology sufficient
to kill massive amounts of other people. The conquistadors and pioneers
had that need, and developed the weapons that allowed them to effectively
do so. I don’t really admire them. And I don’t admire those who carry on
the legacy of hatred that has been passed down to them through the medium
of ignorance.

Howard J. Blodgett • via email
 
Monday, June 13, 2011

Grandpa Shorter‘s

Features Petoskey’s most notable general store, Grandpa Shorter’s celebrates 65 years this summer with a walk down memory lane.
After WWII ended in 1945, entrepreneurs Carl (‘C.G.) and Ruth Shorter returned home to Petoskey from Detroit with the idea of opening a souvenir store downtown. In 1946, Carl began buying crafts from local Ottawa Indians (now also referred to as Odawa), making several trips over the winter to Cross Village to purchase goods for sale at the couple’s new shop.
The Shorters’ business began in a tiny 8’ wide by 24’ deep rented building and opened for their first customers on Memorial Day weekend in 1946. Little did they know that their first Memorial Day weekend would lead to 65 more Memorial Day weekends and  four generations of Shorters working in that same business, albeit a bit larger.
The store was a hit, selling locally crafted Native American items, such as quill boxes, ash baskets, bow and arrow sets, birch bark birdhouses and more. The store also sold deerskin gloves and jackets, Minnetonka Moccasins, pennants from the area and surrounding towns, birch candles, balsam fir pillows, incense and sterling silver jewelry.
By 1956, the Shorters moved out of their tiny space to bigger digs next door -- their present 301 E. Lake Street location -- a building that still oozes the atmosphere of an old time general store.  In 1998 the front of the building was taken back to the way it looked when originally constructed in 1881. It is a Mesker tin-faced building and is the oldest of its kind in Petoskey. 
 
Monday, June 6, 2011

Region Watch: Cherry Festival Music, Ken Smith honored, Chicago-Bound, Bear-ly there

Region Watch CHERRY FESTIVAL MUSIC
The National Cherry Festival has announced its music lineup for the
Bayside Stage this coming July 1-9.
The big acts include:
• Kansas - Wednesday, July 6
• 1964 Beatles tribute - Thursday, July 7
• .38 Special & Brant Lee Gilbert - Friday, July 8
• Josh Graycin, country - Saturday, July 9
Susan Wilcox, media relations & marketing manager, says a $15 pass will
get festival-goers into all four shows, with nightly passes also
available. And, for the first time, premium seating options will also
be available up-front.
“We‘re also very excited about the line-up at the Cherry Blast Stage in
the beverage tent,“ Wilcox adds.
“These will all be free shows by great performers including the Sun
Messengers, the Detroit Pistons House Band, Motown R&B, Joe Caine, Larry
McCray and Thornetta Davis.“
Check out upcoming stories on the artists in the Express‘s Festival
Music and Cherry Festival issues in late June-early July.
 
Monday, June 6, 2011

Letters 6/6/11

Letters Congress & public trust
Recently, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released the
following statement in reaction to the U.S. government reaching the
$14.3 trillion debt ceiling:

“It comes as no surprise that Washington’s spending spree has resulted
in us once again reaching the statutory debt limit. The American
people have no interest in simply increasing the limit absent serious
steps to rein in spending. I urge the Administration to demonstrate
the leadership America expects from Washington and work with the
Congress to enact significant reductions in government spending —
including entitlement programs like Medicare — as well as needed
structural reforms to how Washington sets the nation’s budget.”

I honestly believe that Congress has the wrong idea as to what
entitlements are.
Camp states that Medicare, Social Security and the like are
entitlements to the American people, yet as a worker I have -- along
with all workers -- contributed to the funding of these benefits which
where to be “IN TRUST” by the government for the common person as a
caution for our old age and survival. It is and was the government,
Congress to be exact, that has taken these benefits and allowed them to
be squandered away, removing them from the “TRUST” which established
them and placing them into the general fund for the raping by Congress
for other governmental uses.
Entitlements to me are the billions you give to the oil companies, the
billions you give to farmers to not produce from their land, the
billions you spend on military contractors for things we do not need,
and to the out-sourcing of governmental jobs to contractors that are
lining their pockets without responsibility to perform for the good of
the American people.
As for being chair of the committee you are on that is to oversee much
of this, I am anxious to see who you are really working for, the
American People or Corporate America and what “REFORM” you will
structure. Remember America is watching...

Jim Williams • Kalkaska
 
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Minifest concert series

Music The Northern Express MiniFest will present some of the best of local music over the course of four Thursday evenings in June in a free concert series to be held at Lay Park in Traverse City’s Old Town.
“We’re inviting everyone to come down and to hear some great music in the park and celebrate the 20th anniversary of Northern Express Weekly,” said George Foster, co-publisher of the free newsweekly. Co-sponsoring the series is the Traverse City Parks & Recreation Commission.
The acoustic-oriented concerts will be held from 7-9 p.m. on Thursdays June 9-30 in Lay Park on Union Street (the tiny park just south of the Union Street dam).     The lineup includes Sour Mash (June 9), Soul Patch (June 16), Miriam Pico and David Chown (June 23) and the Fresh Fossils (June 30).  Warming up the shows will be the Acoustic Dynamite duo and special guests.
 
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Writers remember

Features Writers Remember
Northern Express Weekly has always been a place where writers could flex
their literary and journalistic muscles and let ‘er rip on stories ranging
from lifestyle choices to national issues brought close to home.
Following are some reflections from a few of our favorite -- and most
enduring -- scribblers.
Memories from 20 years of Northern Express
Still keeping
it simple

By George Foster
20 Years ago Bob Downes and I launched Northern Express with our total
life savings - about $2,000 each.
There was no business plan or backup plan. We estimated that our savings
would pay for two issues of printing our new-fangled paper. We felt that
we had no choice but to keep our operations and the publication as simple
as possible.
What we did have was an idea – well, sort of. We wanted to print several
thousand free newspapers and hope for enough advertising revenue to break
even. Despite (or maybe because of) our paper’s humble beginnings and low
aspirations, some people told us we wouldn’t survive more than a year or
we were downright loony.
 
Monday, May 23, 2011

letters 5/23/11

Letters Corporate takeover
The first anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court
decision conferring full political personhood on corporations, slipped by
in January with little notice, sadly, from the two political parties and
the media.
This incredibly bad and immensely unpopular decision allowed --
encouraged? -- corporations to pump money directly (usually through
“front” groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) into the political
process. Nearly all of the unmarked bills flowed into Republican coffers,
no doubt greasing the skids for the GOP landslide last November. So it
makes sense that Republicans wouldn’t invite attention to this decision
and its very favorable consequences for them.
It makes less sense, though, why the Tea Partiers aren’t screaming bloody
murder about it, given their well-demonstrated anger about various threats
to freedom. When powerful corporations can covertly operate politically,
everyone else’s freedom is surely diminished.
But let’s be clear about what this Supreme Court decision does: it turns
over the financing of our political campaigns to the direct and more or
less complete control of corporations and the wealthy.
Of course, with our pre-Citizens United v. FEC “system” of campaign
finance our democracy was already on the proverbial slippery slope. Now we
are in free fall. Corporations will spend whatever they want to in the
next election to get what they want. Unless we --the people-- decide
this is unacceptable, and take action, we will soon lose what’s left of
our democracy.

Ron Tschudy • Central Lake
 
Friday, May 20, 2011

Letters 5/30/11

Letters Truth about education
   Howard Walker’s Northern View (May 16) editorial did not express the whole truth.  The first part tries to mollify voters by saying education cuts are really much less than cuts to other departments.  Look at the history of state education funding rather than the past year only: since my retirement from education in 2003, state funding to the Traverse City district has remained approximately constant.  The state has not kept up with inflation and has begun to defund public education.  
   Walker is outraged that salary and benefits make up about 80% of school budgets, but what does he expect from school districts—that most of the money go to computers and textbooks?  Education delivers a service, not a product.  Its very nature assumes most expenditures will go to pay for jobs.
   Then there are his complaints about rising healthcare costs of educators.  Those rising costs belong to the economy generally, not to teachers alone.  If rising healthcare costs are a problem, deal with that.  Don’t blame educators.  His figure of $24,000 “some districts” spend for healthcare is hardly representative of plans in most districts.  In general, teachers’ healthcare policies are no more expensive than those for other  workers.
    Finally, comes the attack on retirement benefits.  Walker says retirement is eating up the finances of school districts, but he ignores the fact that contracts include healthcare, retirements, and salary.  In other words, most teachers have taken hits in salary and healthcare in order to keep their retirement benefit. It is unfair to consider reducing retirement benefits without examining the reductions in salary and healthcare that teachers have already agreed to.
   Let us be honest here: The present government of Michigan is intentionally underfunding public education for political purposes.  The next election should put an end to it.

Richard Fidler • TC
 
 
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