Letters

Letters 10-20-2014

Doctor Dan? After several email conversations with Rep. Benishek, he has confirmed that he doesn’t have a clue of what he does. Here’s why...

In Favor Of Our Parks [Traverse] City Proposal 1 is a creative way to improve our city parks without using our tax dollars. By using a small portion of our oil and gas royalties from the Brown Bridge Trust Fund, our parks can be improved for our children and grandchildren.

From January 1970 Popular Mechanics: “Drastic climate changes will occur within the next 50 years if the use of fossil fuels keeps rising at current rates.” That warning comes from Eugene K. Peterson of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Newcomers Might Leave: Recently we had guests from India who came over as students with the plan to stay in America. He has a master’s degree in engineering and she is doing her residency in Chicago and plans to specialize in oncology. They talked very candidly about American politics and said that after observing...

Someone Is You: On Sept 21, I joined the 400,000 who took to the streets of New York in the People’s Climate March, followed by a UN Climate Summit and many speeches. On October 13, the Pentagon issued a report calling climate change a significant threat to national security requiring immediate action. How do we move from marches, speeches and reports to meaningful work on this problem? In NYC I read a sign with a simple answer...

Necessary To Pay: Last fall, Grand Traverse voters authorized a new tax to fix roads. It is good, it is necessary.

The Real Reasons for Wolf Hunt: I have really been surprised that no one has been commenting on the true reason for the wolf hunt. All this effort has not been expended so 23 wolves can be killed each year. Instead this manufactured controversy about the wolf hunt has been very carefully crafted to get Proposal 14-2 passed.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Green Canopy

Features What is yoga? Some see it as simply folding oneself into a pretzel and doing silly animal poses called “downward dog” and “cat, cow” and so on. But, yoga goes far beyond physical contortions. In Sanskrit, the language of ancient India, yoga means “union” – the balance between body, mind and spirit.
At the Green Canopy, the philosophy of balance transcends into all aspects – even in the clothing business. Located in the Village of the Grand Traverse Commons, the Green Canopy offers organic, natural and fair trade yoga clothing, along with a variety of yoga products that promote health and well being.
“We promote Eastern India Health. If people have issues, they can come here and get support,” says Libby Robold, who, along with husband Michael, own Green Canopy.
In 2001, the couple opened a yoga studio in the same building, Yoga for Health, which still serves as a studio and education center. Through a joint business relationship and a change of circumstance, the Robolds helped open and now fully operate Green Canopy, a place where their clients can go for all their yoga purchasing needs.
 
Monday, April 12, 2010

Letters

Letters Ecological rape
I hope everyone read Henry Ramsby’s letter (“The coming biomassacre”
4/5/10). I am in total agreement. As a former naturalist and science
educator I am incredulous as to the “logic” behind this proposed
wood-burning gasification plant. Doesn’t anyone in any position of
power “get it” that stripping northwest Michigan of its trees has the
potential for a horrific snowball effect on the local ecosystem?
Logging will expose unstable dunal-glacial moraine soils beneath the
forest. As these ancient dune soils are exposed to wind and weather,
greater erosion, blowouts and devastation will result. And the
proposed method of logging out an area and replanting will not replace
delicate species of flora and fauna that have taken hundreds of years
to establish (in climax forestland).
And what of the eco-tourism that has long been a mainstay of the
economy of Northern Michigan? Since I was a child roaming the hills
behind my childhood home in Traverse City, to the summer vacations I
now spend up there with family and friends, it has been the forests
and the lakes that are the draw to come home. This proposal is
tantamount to ecological rape.
Adding insult to injury, the power plant promoters are false in saying
that wood ash is “non-toxic.” Early settlers used wood ash to create
lye (as any fourth grader studying history knows) to make soap. Water
+ wood ash = high pH caustic lye. So, just how are they planning to
sequester thousands of tons of wood-ash byproduct from this plant?
Leaked into the water system caustic, high-pH leachate would devastate
area watersheds, altering the pH of ground water and creating a
disaster for aquatic life.
Besides the horrible initial impact to wildlife (loss of habitat and
species, forced migration of species across roadways to seek new
homes...), this will also affect the mental well-being of those living
in and around logged areas (demoralization and depression at seeing
huge swaths of treeless land where forests once stood). And it would
likely decrease already depressed property values as well.
Who wants to live near areas stripped bare of trees and laid waste to? A few
scrawny seedlings doesn’t make up for a
climax forest. I hope the citizens rally to the defense of area
forests and stop this plant. Burn trash if you will, but don’t burn
trees!!

Rolinda D. LeMay, M.Ed.
Toledo, Ohio (Traverse City native)

(Please note, TCL&P‘s proposed biomass plant would follow sustainable
forest guidelines established by the
DNR, with no plans for clearcutting.
See this issue‘s “BioDebate“ article. -- ed.)

 
Monday, April 5, 2010

Letters

Letters The coming biomassacre
As a certified green builder I feel I am qualified to render an
opinion on the unsettling topic of biomass. It has become obvious,
after reading the well-written article by Anne Stanton (3/8/10), that
Ed Rice of
Traverse City Light & Power (TCLP),
mayor Chris Bzdok, city commissioner Jim Carruthers and all the other
proponents of biomass are either ignorant of or are ignoring specific,
glaring, data.
To skew certain facts and totally ignore others altogether to expound
on and expand their arguments for a biomass plant only proves they are
not qualified to render any definitive opinions at all. Case in point.
1. There is ample proof that a biomass plant is not as carbon neutral
as they would have us believe. And it’s an absurd comparison from
those who assert burning a tree releases the same amount of carbon
dioxide as one that decomposes over 40 years. In that span of time, an
average biomass plant will have burned 4 million tons of wood from 3
million “harvested” wood acres, releasing 8 billion pounds of carbon
dioxide into the atmosphere.
2. There is a reason that trees die and decompose -- this regenerates
our soils, reduces erosion, and feeds the most benign micro-organisms
at the beginning of the food chain amongst others. No one knows what
the long term consequences would be by removing this staple, and to
ignore the potential consequences is extremely shortsighted and
selfish.
3. The rush to produce corn-based ethanol has proved to be one of the
biggest follies of the 21st century for numerous reasons before one
even considers the government subsidies issue. Don’t any of these
so-called experts see the corollary between biomass plants and the
many ethanol plants that have gone idle or closed down altogether?
4. Has anyone drawn concentric circles in a 75 mile radius around Mancelona,
Traverse City, and potentially Frankfort? Guess what? They overlap. So
how is this going to work when you now have three times the demand for
wood products from the same areas of our region? Logging and select
cutting is very invasive and this will decimate these areas.
5. Consider that TCLP has spent millions on a wind generator that
produces only one per cent of their annual power and has already
required several hundred thousand dollars in maintenance
(incorporating used parts because new ones were cost prohibitive). I
think the true cost of wind electricity is more than 10.5 cents per
kilowatt hour. Is this good fiscal responsibility on TCLP’s part?
There are many sensible alternatives to biomass but it would seem the
$25 million they (TCLP) have in reserve is burning a hole in their
pocket and not being managed wisely at this juncture. Common sense is
just not in their vocabulary.
I am a big proponent for exploring reasonable and more realistic
alternate energy sources, but to rush foolhardily into a technology
whose potential long term detriments haven’t been fully weighed or
explored is madness. And to potentially destroy a resource faster than
it can regenerate is not a good example of sound reasoning or a well
planned venue -- it’s woodland genocide --it’s a biomassacre.

Henry S. Ramsby • TC
 
Monday, March 29, 2010

Letters

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Subject: letters
From: “Colleen Zanotti“
Date: Mon, March 29, 2010 8:42 am
To: lynn@northernexpress.com
Priority: Normal
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Advice to Dave Camp: Get an imagination

Dear Representative, Dave Camp, I am writing to you in response to
your “NO” vote last night on health care reform.
Rather than have your staffers send me your boilerplate response,
please take a few extra moments to actually consider what I write.
Close your eyes and imagine that you aren’t on the federal dole, and
that you and your family don’t have health care and a pension for
life. Please also imagine that your campaign contributions do not come
primarily from corporations, that you are immune to insurance company
lobbying efforts and, further, that you can vary from your party’s
position without fearing a political backlash.
Now, imagine that you cannot find a job, you’re self-employed or work
for an employer who cannot afford to offer health care.
Unfortunately, your spouse is in the same situation. Imagine you have
children to whom you want to give everything good.
Your reality, however, is that you are barely able to scrape by on
your combined take-home pay. You are both good, honest people who
worked hard, but could never seem to catch a break.
Now, imagine that one of the following occurs:
You have a heart attack, your wife is diagnosed with breast cancer,
and one of your children falls off his bicycle and suffers a severe
concussion. What would it feel like to walk into a hospital knowing
that you have NO WAY to pay for care?
What if you had just canceled your family’s health insurance because
your premium increased by 40%, and you had to decide between that and
being homeless? What if your wife’s cancer was a re-occurrence from
15 years ago, you’re still paying off that debt, and you can’t get
insurance due to the “pre-existing condition”?
Got it? Now, step back in time and imagine that you, this good but
desperate person who does NOT have government-guaranteed health care
for life, is casting the vote you cast last night.
How do you vote?

Robert Chapman • Suttons Bay


W
 
Monday, March 22, 2010

Letters

Letters Bank rip-off
This letter is to inform and to warn others about what is called
“overdraft protection.” Fortunately, thanks to recent legislation,
banks are now required to ask permission to allow this protection.
Recently I used my bank debit card to purchase small orders at fast
food restaurants. I did not notice that one purchase did not post
immediately, so my 94 cent taco left me with a 5 cent overdraft -
When I looked online at my account I had received a $35 insufficient
funds fee for the five cent overdraft.
Believing this could be corrected I contacted my local branch and was
told that because I had had some fees reversed within the last year
they could not reverse this fee. I decided to contact the main office
in town as well as the corporate office and was given the same
response. The people I talked to were polite, but unsympathetic.
While I have found the employees very nice, I consider the corporate
policy as “greed.” The letter it has sent out requires a decision
regarding future overdraft policy. I urge everyone to DECLINE this
protection unless they have it tied to another account. Otherwise, as
it’s clearly spelled out, it allows the bank to cover your overdraft
BUT charge $35 for each transaction (up to 3 in one day) that is
overdrawn!
Don’t let this happen to you! Inquire about this policy and read the
letter carefully. You will be “shocked and awed” at this corporate
greed tactic.

Ken L. Raney • TC
 
Monday, March 15, 2010

Letters

Letters Say no to biomass
It’s time to move on, the community has spoken: no biomass burning. I call on
Traverse City Light & Power (TCL&P) to honor their commitment to
listen to the people and drop their plans to build one or more biomass
burning plants in Traverse City.
No need to wait until April; let us all get on with the work of
figuring out how to move forward with wood-fired power plants off the
table.
At two forums held by TCL&P, several hundred people could hardly have
been more clear: they don’t want any sort of biomass burning plants in
Traverse City and think the whole concept of stopping global warming
by burning wood ranges anywhere from suspect to tragically wrong.
Frankly, I was stunned.
Despite months of marketing and a dozen presentations where only
pro-biomass presenters were invited, and despite TCL&P’s forums
beginning with a pro-biomass presentation and many frustrated citizens
walking out, about 90% or more of the participants opposed biomass
burning.
I personally feel humbled by the depth of knowledge of our town. This
wasn’t a not-in-my-backyard thing, though no one thinks more
smokestacks and diesel trucks here is a good idea. The very idea that
humanity could solve its energy or environmental problems by burning
trees just didn’t make sense.
A very interesting point was made that a $30-to-$50 million bet on
burning technology when the political landscape changes, the wood
supply can’t support it, or just that it turns out (correctly) to not
be so green after all, is risky business. Many believe that new
technologies are just around the corner.
TCL&P had to admit there is NO working model of wood-fired plant of
the type they are proposing (10 megawatt or larger combined wood and
heat gasification.) Traverse City would be home to experimental
technology that one biomass plant operator told me sounded very
problematic.
The consensus seems go with natural gas (which is a local resource)
for now. Our community could achieve a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions
TODAY by turning to natural gas.
Personally I think everyone on TCL&P has worked hard to do the
right thing, but they were led down a garden path by a
“renewable energy” industry up-selling products, and a government too
willing to throw money at a problem whether or not it really makes
sense or even works.

Jeff Gibbs • TC
 
Monday, March 8, 2010

Letters

Letters Charter accusation false
In your last issue, Jim Tompkins accused me of violating the city
charter in comments I made about the city engineer’s handling of 8th
Street. Violating the charter in the way Mr. Tompkins accuses me of is
a crime, and therefore not an accusation that should be thrown around
casually, or falsely.
The charter prohibits elected officials from directing city staff
(other than the manager) to do something. It also prohibits us from
ordering the city manager to hire or fire someone. I did none of these
things, and
Mr. Tompkins knows that.
What I did was detail how the 8th Street project got designed contrary
to the master plan. I did this after trying to resolve the matter
internally. I’m not proud to have done this, but I believed it was
necessary and now we’re hopefully on a path to improving the project.
Hopefully this will also prevent a repeat of the situation.
I did not give up my 1st Amendment right to speak freely on city
issues when I became mayor, and nothing in the charter requires me to
do so. Quite the contrary.
Finally, Mr. Tompkins repeats a common misconception that the master
plan is optional for the city to follow. The state planning statute
does say the master plan is a guidance document for the zoning
ordinance, which governs private development in the city.
But it also says the master plan is the controlling document when it
comes to capital projects – including streets – that the city builds.
The planning statute requires the location, character, and extent of
city capital projects to conform to the master plan. If we can ignore
the rules on projects the city builds, what right do we have to make
private property owners follow the rules when they build in the city?

Chris Bzdok • TC
(Chris Bzdok is mayor of Traverse City.)
 
Monday, March 1, 2010

Letters

Letters Mayor violated charter
In the 2/15/10 article “Blunt Bzdok,” Traverse City Mayor Chris Bzdok
asked the question “who’s in charge here?” concerning the engineering
plans for reconstruction of Eighth Street from Garfield to Barlow.
The short answer is that the city manager is responsible for the city
administrative staff. The last paragraph in Sec. 37 of the City
Charter, reads in part: “The City Commission and its members shall
deal with the administrative service solely through the City Manager.”
Sec. 48 entitled “City Engineer” reads in part: “and such other duties
as may be required of him by the City Manager.”
In other words, Mr. Bzdok is violating the charter by publicly
criticizing city engineer, Tim Lodge through the local media and also
on his Internet blog. In addition, he has publicly accused Mr. Lodge
of interfering with obtaining a second opinion on the Eighth Street
project. I don’t know upon what he based the accusation, which is a
very serious charge.
In the article the mayor seemed to be saying that the city manager is
too busy to monitor his staff. I would suggest that Mr. Bzdok read the
City Charter to review the limits to his authority and also review the
proper way to deal with city staff through the city manager. He also
needs to understand that a Master Plan is a guide to what is ideal and
cannot realistically always be followed precisely.
Widening Eighth Street has not been envisioned, but Gosling Czubek
indicated bike paths could be included provided if certain sections
were widened.
We need bike paths on Eighth Street - but temper outbursts by the
mayor against the city engineer in violation of the charter is not the
way to get there. Mayor Bzdok owes Mr. Lodge an apology.
Jim Tompkins • TC

(Jim Tompkins is a former city clerk, city commissioner and three-time mayor.)

 
Monday, February 22, 2010

Letters

Letters Our corporate citizens
Karen Martin seems to think that the
Constitution is just kidding when it says that Congress shall make no law
abridging freedom of speech (re: letters 2/8/10). She is appalled that the
U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that corporations be afforded freedom of
political speech. Oddly, she voices no concerns over labor unions’ having
the same freedom.
Both corporations and labor unions are typically wealthy and powerful
organizations comprised of thousands of individual Americans. Both
corporations and labor unions have political lobbyists who promote their
agendas. To restrict the political freedom of speech of one of these
groups and not the other cannot be lawfully justified.

Charles Finley • Beulah
 
Monday, February 15, 2010

Letters

Letters In defense of Avatar
In his January 25, 2010 letter, “Avatar brainwashing,” David Page seems to think that there are no members of the U.S. military who will abandon core values in exchange for dollars and that our government doesn’t steal tax dollars from the middle class to fund military operations that benefit corporate interests and trample on indigenous rights and national sovereignty.
I have just a few examples which point to the contrary.
In August of 1953 the CIA and MI6 executed Operation Ajax, driving the democratically elected leader of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, from office. They did this on behalf of the British Petroleum oil company.
The CIA then financed Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi’s takeover of Iran. Zahedi had been arrested during WWII for attempting to establish a pro-Nazi government in Iran. Iran’s new director of propaganda, Bahram Shahrokh, was a protege of Joseph Goebbels.
Less than a year later the CIA was doing the same thing in Guatemala. They ousted Jacobo Arbenz on behalf of the United Fruit Company.
Okay so this is all ancient history, right? During the recent American invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi seed bank in Abu Ghraib was destroyed (along with hospitals and other non-military targets.) The Coalition Provisional Authority passed Order 81 making it illegal for farmers to re-use patented seeds, thus paving the way for the Monsanto corporation to sue Iraqi farmers.
With the seed bank destroyed and coalition troops handing out Monsanto-patented GMO corn seeds to Iraqi civilians, the U.S. government was assuring windfall profits for Monsanto in a brand new market (Monsanto is a huge contributor to Democrat and Republican election campaigns.)
Other recent examples:
• U.S. military aid to Mexico used to drive indigenous people from their land during the Clinton administration.
• Plan Columbia during the Clinton and Bush II administrations.
• No-bid contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan awarded to companies Dick Cheney used to work for.
Am I bashing the military here? Were the creators of Avatar bashing the military? I don’t think so. After all the hero of Avatar is also an ex-Marine. Do some ex-military personnel become mercenaries for money hungry corporations? Yes they do, just look at Blackwater and Haliburton.
Most members of our military are fine people who have sworn an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Unfortunately our military is too often co-opted by a civilian leadership (right or left) focused on using our military and our tax dollars to expand profits for the richest 1%, strengthen centralized banks and financial institutions, and build an Anglo-American fascist empire.
Avatar struck me as a much needed wake-up call for a populous that needs to rescue their democracy from the influence of the military industrial complex and finally elect a leader who can get lazy corporations off government welfare, bring all our troops home now and put an end to this foreign meddling and resource stealing nonsense.
“If we fix it so’s you can’t make money on war. We’ll all forget what we’re killing folks for.” - Woody Guthrie

Nathan Karnes • via email
 
Monday, February 8, 2010

Encore! The Great Indoor Folk Festival returns Feb. 13th

Music Encore!
The Great Indoor Folk Festival returns Feb. 13
Based on a spectacular turnout last year, dozens of musicians from
across the region are tuning their guitars and polishing their songs
in anticipation of the second annual Great Indoor Folk Festival on
Saturday, Feb. 13 in Traverse City.
 
Monday, February 8, 2010

Letters

Letters Where guns shouldn‘t go
Having read the article in the February 1 issue of Northern Express
titled Christine goes to jail, I must say that I have a hard time
having any sympathy for Ms. Blackledge. While I support her right to
carry a firearm and certainly understand why she does, she made a very
bad mistake. My 5-year-old daughter and my wife fly out of Traverse
City airport on a regular basis to go visit Grandma in another state.
If anyone brings a gun to the airport I want them and the gun removed
immediately!
The decision to carry a firearm is a HUGE responsibility. If Ms.
Blackledge (or anyone for that matter) isn’t responsible enough to
manage that firearm properly then they must suffer the consequences.
While her case may have been handled poorly I suggest that Ms.
Blackledge use that as a learning experience and be more responsible
in the future.

Tom Speers • Fife Lake
 
Monday, February 1, 2010

Letters

Letters Supreme threat
The Supreme Court issued a decision this week that may be the single
most dangerous blow to democracy ever conceived. By granting
individual rights to corporations they have undermined the very
premise our country was founded upon.
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were created to protect
individual rights from being trampled by rich and powerful groups like
the court of King George III. By granting individual rights to
corporations the Supreme Court is creating openings for a new set of
royals to arise.
Incorporation was created to allow individuals to shield themselves
from the dangers of being in business. This allowed business and
industry to grow and prosper in ways it might otherwise not have done.
Corporations diffuse risk among many individuals, making the risks
easier to face for anyone growing a business. Instead of doing
business as a sole proprietor (read that as “individual”), one can
incorporate and gain a certain amount of protection not afforded
individuals in business.
Special rights applying only to corporations come with its
establishment. So, you create a corporation so as not to function as
an individual.
Now the Supreme Court says corporations are individuals. I defy
anyone on the Supreme Court to produce any individual whose rights had
been infringed upon by the ruling that was overturned. Placing
restrictions upon a corporation in no way restricts the rights of the
individuals who exist under the umbrella of incorporation.
By granting individual rights to corporations the Supreme Court has,
in effect, created super persons that have not only individual rights
but a second layer of “corporate individual” rights.
If a corporation breaks the law is it now possible to hold the entire
corporation at fault? Should every share holder be completely
responsible for corporate behavior? If not then how can they have
rights separate from, but equal to, an individual’s own rights? And,
as it has been pointed out by many other people this week, how are we
to know with any certainty who is behind the veil of the corporate
structure? We cannot.
We should all be very afraid for our democracy at this moment in time
and I believe there should be a massive outcry from the people to
remove from office the persons who have visited this plague upon our
house. Impeach them now!

J. Grant • Mesick
 
Monday, January 25, 2010

Everyone knows it windy/help for Haiti/Food Rescue delivers

Region Watch Everyone Knows It’s Windy
But some lakeshore residents are fearful of proposed wind farm project
A fight over wind turbines is shaping up in Oceana and Mason counties,
where 400 area residents have organized to oppose a proposed wind farm
project on Lake Michigan.
 
Monday, January 25, 2010

Letters

Letters Performance & schools
Stephen Tuttle’s opinion piece, “Performance-based Silliness” (Spectator,
1/18) while not exactly wrong, reflects a misconception about including
student test scores as a criterion for evaluating teachers.
Legislation measures the amount of improvement a class shows over the
course of a school year so it is irrelevant whether an individual student
has learning difficulties. If that student scores a 48 one year and a 58
the next, that might be a sufficient increase to justify a bump in salary,
providing the rest of the class improves similarly.
His implied view that social promotion does not help students learn is not
supported by research. Students held back fall further and further
behind.
Also, while, “returning discipline to the teachers” might be helpful in
some situations, even better would be to design a learning experience that
does not require such a heavy hand of discipline: smaller class sizes,
better communication with home, a curriculum that fits the child’s needs,
trained counselors, and special learning environments for those that need
them.
Certainly there are “bad” teachers, though they can be fired for due
cause. If Tuttle is arguing against tenure for teachers, then he should
also specify how otherwise excellent teachers who disagree with
administration can be protected from dismissal or how those at the top of
the salary schedule can avoid being sacrificed to accommodate a less
expensive new hire.
What is glaringly missing from Tuttle’s discussion are questions about the
use of a standardized test to measure what goes on in classrooms. Do test
scores reflect the child’s attitude towards school? Do children want to
learn more even if they get high scores? What about subjects like art and
music -- which are not easily assessed by such tests—are they to be
ignored? Do standardized questions measure adequately traits such as
creativity and problem-solving? And what about the social learning that
goes on in classrooms—how can a test measure that intangible?
It’s a terrible idea to use test scores to bolster salaries of some
teachers, but let’s make an honest argument against it that recognizes all
of the pitfalls without misrepresenting the proposed rules. That way, we
build strong opposition to short-sighted policies propounded by
politicians and others far separated from schools and children.

Richard Fidler • TC
 
 
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