Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


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Monday, October 12, 2009

Letters

Letters Letters 10/12/09
Devastating closure
It’s Monday, my usual day for the gym. But I’m not going, nor are any of the Monday regulars at the Fitness Center. Why? Because with barely a week’s notice the
Fitness Center closed after 23 years of serving a diverse community at its convenient location.
While I am sad, others will be devastated, because it will be difficult, if not impossible, for them to go somewhere else. The Fitness Center served a few clients who were mentally and physically challenged, who walked or arrived by BATA bus, as well as young and old, fit and not so fit.
I take away two lessons: Out of town ownership is a BAD IDEA. Might things have been different if the owner had experienced the camaraderie, had seen the excellent guidance given by the trainers, had noticed the sense of loyalty and community among members?
That sense of community is my second lesson. I feel great affection for members whose figures now come to mind, people whose names I don’t know, to whom never spoke. We were all there together, doing our respective work to care for our bodies day after day. I will miss them all, as I will miss our competent, hard working trainers. Thank you all.
The Fitness Center was one of Traverse City’s well-kept secrets, a kind of gem in the rough. Opportunity awaits an entrepreneur would like to open an in town gym. He or she would find a supportive group of customers, ready to help market and make it work. I already have a name: Community Fitness, The Gym for the Rest of Us.

Alison Heins • TC

Protect the cougars
I understand that there is evidence that leads many scientists, veterinarians, and animal observers to believe that there is a breeding population of cougars in the state of Michigan.
I am asking that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) take immediate action to start collecting evidence and try to determine how many cougars are in Michigan and what needs to be done to protect them.
Under the Michigan Endangered Species Act, the DNR is to “perform those acts necessary for the conservation, protection, restoration and propagation of endangered and threatened specifies of fish, wildlife and plants.”
By refusing to recognize the evidence presented by citizens of Michigan that cougars do exist in the state, the DNR fails to fulfill its obligation to protect cougars under the Endangered Species Act.

Pamela Thornton-Folkema
South Boardman
Mikko‘s bad decisions
Bravo! to Marty Beaudoin for his letter regarding Dennis Mikko (9/28).
Mr. Beaudoin could not have said it any better! My family’s lives also were affected negatively by Dennis Mikko’s decisions. He disregarded the facts, ignored the wishes of the children, and like Mr. Beaudoin stated, handled his courtroom in a dismissive, judgmental, opinionated and arrogant manner.
The Friend of the Court system has serious issues and should be monitored more carefully. Changes need to be made, everyone knows it, but nothing is being done.

Charleen Jach • TC

Corrections
Whoops -- Real Astrology was inadvertently omitted last week. Apologies.
Also, the band Umphreys McGee was in town promoting its new 2009 release, not their 2007 disc as stated in a story. And an ad for the band included a photo of the Disco Biscuits.


 
Monday, October 5, 2009

Three can‘t miss shows

Music 3 Can’t-Miss Shows
1-/5/09
Umphrey’s McGee brings on jam band sounds
A band has just got to be great to justify a weird name like Umphrey’s McGee, and word has it that the jam band from South Bend, Indiana delivers the goods.
According to their bio: “The band shuttles between styles with precision, from straight-up pop and rock to jazz, prog-metal, and classical. If you can name it, chances are Umphrey’s can play it.”
Drawn from students at the University of Notre Dame, the six-member band got its start playing college audiences in the late-’90s and were soon hailed as heirs to the Phish legacy. Through the years, they’ve been the toast of Rolling Stone magazine (as featured in the “Hot” issue), Blender, Billboard and other publications. The Washington Post named the band “rock’s undisputed lord of sonic shape-shifting.”
The band has appeared at both the Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo festivals. Currently, they’re promoting their 2007 album, Safety in Numbers - a double album that includes an acoustic and electric disc.
The band performs this Wednesday, Oct. 7 at the City Opera House in Traverse City, with the Macpodz opening the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 advance, $30 on the day of the show. Info: www.porterhouseproductions.com
 
Monday, October 5, 2009

Interlochen kicks off its Fall/Winter Season

Music Interlochen Kicks Off
Its Fall/Winter Season
10/5/09
What’s up at Interlochen for the fall/winter season? Pretty much a rubber stamp of the classical/cultural lineup that has been standard fare for Corson Auditorium over the past 20 years, including the ever-popular “A Christmas Carol” (re-envisioned this season as a musical). Don’t expect Steve Miller in the ‘off’ season.
But, before you can say, “What? No ‘Nutcracker’?” be advised that there are a few surprises in this year’s lineup, including comedy and jazz acts.
Here’s the run-down on what to expect now through April:
 
Monday, October 5, 2009

Interlochen kicks off its Fall/Winter Season

Music Interlochen Kicks Off
Its Fall/Winter Season
10/5/09
What’s up at Interlochen for the fall/winter season? Pretty much a rubber stamp of the classical/cultural lineup that has been standard fare for Corson Auditorium over the past 20 years, including the ever-popular “A Christmas Carol” (re-envisioned this season as a musical). Don’t expect Steve Miller in the ‘off’ season.
But, before you can say, “What? No ‘Nutcracker’?” be advised that there are a few surprises in this year’s lineup, including comedy and jazz acts.
Here’s the run-down on what to expect now through April:
 
Monday, October 5, 2009

Letters

Letters Letters 10/5/09
A lack of respect
I’m probably the world’s worst lesbian. I don’t own any rainbows. I don’t have a sticker on my car declaring my sexuality. I rarely go to a gay bar. I think by now you get the point I’m trying to make. I’d rather people get to know me, for me, than judge me by the sexuality of the person I am dating.
I’m not an activist of any sort, but maybe that changed the night of August 16th at around 11 p.m. My girlfriend and I had left the benefit concert for musician, Jay Kott, at Union Street Station. We were walking down the street to our car and holding hands. We hadn’t even walked a block from the bar when a gray SUV drove by with its windows down. A young man’s head appeared and he yelled a homophobic slur at my girlfriend and me.
Mind you this is the first time I have ever had this happen to me. I just couldn’t believe it. Did that really just happen? I didn’t even have time to wrap my head around it, when a completely different gray SUV parked at the corner. And this time it was a young woman whose head came out to bombard us with yet another homophobic slur. That’s right people, two homophobic slurs in not even two blocks. They were disgusting things to say and I won’t repeat them here.
I couldn’t even talk. I was so livid. Really? This is 2009. I know that people are inherently different. And I know that we all have different views. I’m not trying to preach to anyone. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. I just want the respect that every human being deserves. I believe in the words of our forefathers. I believe in what our great country was founded upon. That Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are for every human being. I think these rights should apply regardless of your age, ability, sex, ethnicity or sexual orientation. My pursuit may be different than others, but to me that makes every human being so amazingly wonderful. I honestly believe that no one deserves to walk down the street in fear of harassment. And I wouldn’t wish that fear on anyone.

Kiki Karpus • via email

Banks‘ rip-off scam
I read with great interest the article by Dominic Sondy (“An Overdraft Nightmare,“ 9/28). I, too, have had the misfortune of learning exactly how banks operate, and I’m none too pleased.
We have done our banking with the same bank, and its predecessors, for over 30 years. I recently received, via snail-mail, a notice from my bank that my account was overdrawn to the amount of one dollar. By the time I got everything squared away with the bank, overdraft fees and penalties had reached $84 -- for a one dollar overdraft. The bank waited two weeks to notify me.
I later found out that this is normal practice. Banks count very heavily on overdraft and late payment penalties to bolster their bottom line, and they’re vicious about it.
Someone could have, if they really were into “customer service,” picked up a phone and said, “Hey, man, you’re overdrawn by a buck. We’ll cover it, but how ‘bout you drop by today with a dollar bill and set it right?” But they didn’t. They deliberately waited two weeks to notify me so that the charges and penalties could add up.
They also failed to notify me that some businesses charge a handling fee for debit card purchases, and the bank passes that on to you -- but isn’t legally required to tell you that they’re doing so. Likewise, using another bank’s ATM involves a handling charge -- whether or not it says so on the screen. I have been robbed of $84 by my own bank.
The reality is, there is no customer loyalty on the part of banks or credit card companies. You are a money-making asset, and nothing more, no matter how long you’ve been a customer.
Needless to say, I no longer use my checking account. My employer requires me to have one because they only pay by direct deposit, but the money is deposited at 8 a.m., and it’s withdrawn -- all of it -- by noon. I pay bills with cash or money orders. I refuse to be a pawn in this financial con game any longer.

Howard J. Blodgett • TC.
Cops retrieved gun
In our store, we do everything possible to make sure the selling and buying of guns is done according to the laws. These laws were put in place to protect our neighborhoods, our children, and our right to bear arms. But when a handgun was stolen from its case just a few weeks ago, it was all put in jeopardy.
I’m writing this letter now, with great appreciation and, thankfully, the ability to exhale due to the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department’s investigation. Their commitment to the safety of Northern Michigan led to a speedy recovery of the stolen handgun and one less unregistered firearm on our streets. I could not be more grateful for all the time and effort that was put forth in this case and I will sleep well at night knowing that we have good people out there protecting us.

Dan Griffith, Ace Buyers • TC


Kiln dust questions
The Environmental Protection Agency‘s (EPA) report to Congress on cement kiln dust (12/31/94) reveals that the dust contains dioxins and furans, known carcinogens. All 11 of the cement-producing sites like the one in Bay Harbor (the old Penn-Dixie-Holnam plant) contained dioxins and furans.
The EPA’s 12-31-07 Bay Harbor Progress Report stated that in the summer, Petoskey’s Camp Daggett well #5 draws water from under the CKD deposit, diverting it from entering the Lake Michigan shore – not surprising, considering the 1.5 million gallons of irrigation water poured daily onto the whole golf course just above the kiln dust deposits.
Mike Robbins, head of Petoskey’s Water Works confirms that pumping is reduced during the golf course irrigation season for Camp Daggett well #5 and is used as a back-up.
It is also noteworthy that the water capture area shown in EPA’s water well charts of the Bay Harbor project has shrunk from 2006 to 2007. The new EPA report doesn’t show the Preserve well #4 and Camp Daggett #5 well drawing Lake Michigan water in 2007, as it did the prior year. How can this be?
The new EPA report doesn’t show the Townsend well #3 drawing Lake Michigan water. This phenomenon was reported back in 1994 in NTH Consultants hydro-geological study, hired by Bay Harbor Co., reported that the more water they pumped, the softer the water got. Petoskey hydrologist Bob Buechler explained that after 18 hours of pumping, the cone of depression (source of the water being pumped) spreads out until it reaches a recharge barrier which, in this case, is Lake Michigan, whose water is very soft compared with the limestone hard ground water. How can this be?
Lake Michigan water levels rose nine inches in the last year. And CMS is having to capture and truck away more and more water. How much does Lake Michigan have to rise to flood out the leachate collection lines in Bay Harbor?
The cement kiln dust needs to be dug out of Bay Harbor. Paving roads with a 20 percent dust-asphalt mix has been approved by the EPA in other states.

David L. Clink • Petoskey

 
Monday, September 28, 2009

Letters 9/28/09

Letters Letters 9/28/09
“Us“ and “Them“
Michael Moore’s new movie and his recent appearance on Jay Leno have brought a serious fear on my part that he may succumb to the evils of the capitalistic society in which he is forced to live, causing him to fall into the category of “them.” “Them,” according to Mr. Moore on Leno, are the top one percent of wage earners in this country who own all of the wealth and are trying to take more from “us”. In his diatribe on Leno, Mr. Moore included himself in the “us” category, a potential victim of “them.” According to the 2007 census, “them,” (the top one percent of wage earners) are people making more than $410,096 dollars per year. Despite his charitable efforts to the local economy, I am afraid that he may one day crumble, and become one of “them.” I would offer the following solution so that he can continue to be one of “us” poor working slobs who are being raped by “them.” I would suggest that when the net profits of his new movie hit $410,095.99, that he no longer charge admission. This would reinforce his anathema for the process of earning money, allow him to remain one of “us,” and allow us all to continue to hold him at the level of esteem and respect that we currently do.

Dennis Sternburgh • Traverse City

Touched by the Loss
We wanted to thank Northern Express for the wonderful article on the stolen historic gate, and for inspiring so many people to respond to us.
We’ve had a few leads, however, nothing has turned up thus far.
I did want to relay an overwhelming expression of kindness and generosity from an experienced wrought-iron artist, Dan Nickels of Traverse City.
He stopped in the office to personally speak with Ray, and to offer his skills at replicating the gate when we’re ready to do so.
He said he would do this for free. All Ray has to do is supply the materials. As a serendipitous side-bar, his father, Dr. Mervin “Nick” Nichols, was interim Superintendent of the hospital in the ’60s.
As a result of your article, there are incredible people out there who have been genuinely touched by this loss.

Mini Minervini • Traverse City
Top ten reasons to oppose health care reform

10. You feel patriotic knowing that Americans spend more for prescription drugs than the French or Canadians.
9. You have a wealthy uncle who will be glad to cover your medical expenses when you lose your job.
6. You believe the right to life ends at birth.
7. You get a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing that your premiums helped to buy a bigger yacht for the insurance company CEO.
6. You are the insurance company CEO with the new yacht.
5. You would rather have insurance company bureaucrats decide who lives or dies than have the U. S. government guarantee health care to all.
4. You happen to be one of those bureaucrats -- you get bonuses for rescinding coverage from sick people.
3. You can easily afford to buy an organ transplant in Asia if you need one.
2. You plan to reject social security payments and Medicare coverage when you retire because they’re “socialistic.”
1. You’re a Congressman who’s been bought and paid for by insurance companies.

Alice Littlefield • Omena

Serious issue with Mikko Decisions
Regarding the recent charges filed against District Court Referee Dennis Mikko.
I have been in Dennis Mikko’s courtroom more times than I care to mention with custody issues.
He has been consistently dismissive, judgmental, opinionated and frankly arrogant. If I have had my life and the lives of my children decided by a potential pedophile then I have a serious issue with the entire court and friend of the court system in our community. Who could honestly say they feel good about a decision made by this man? He has had a profound affect on my life as well as many of my friends and acquaintances and our children with decisions regarding custody. Are we to presume his judgement has been unclouded by his “affliction”? Can I now have a review of the decisions made by Dennis Mikko or will the court dismiss this as an isolated incident without prejudice toward those effected by his decisions?
Can we as citizens enforce the ethic that we hold our judges and court officials to a higher standard? How about a non-pedophile standard. How low will we go?
I for one will want to meet with all of those who feel as I do and take appropriate action.

Marty Beaudoin • Traverse City

Charged!

Archie Kiel, the Rapid City man who appeared on the Northern Express cover with his lush medicinal marijuana plants in late August, is poised to become a test case for the state’s new marijuana medical law.
Kiel was arrested on September 17 and charged with a felony that could put him behind bars for up to 14 years.
Kiel’s pretrial hearing took place on September 21. He’ll now face arraignment on September 30 at 1 p.m. on charges of manufacture of more than 20 plants and less than 200, said Kalkaska Assistant Prosecutor Kirk Metzger who is handling the case.
The felony charge normally carries a seven-year maximum, but that doubles with a prior drug conviction of any kind. Kiel was previously convicted on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge.
Metzger said he will offer a plea bargain to Kiel’s attorney, Ross Hickman.
State voters approved the marijuana medical law in November, which allows a “caregiver” or supplier to grow up to a maximum of 72 plants if the caregiver is also a patient and has five other patints.
Kiel, a father of three, is well known in Rapid City as a strong advocate for using marijuana as a therapy for cancer tumors and pain. He said he doesn’t take money for his plants, but runs a sort of informal co-op out of his home.
The case will likely come down to the interpretation of the new law and when the plants can be counted as legal medicine—when a patient receives a physical card from the state, which is backlogged on its patient applications, or when a patient can present evidence of a signed physician’s statement that says marijuana will have a therapeutic or palliative benefit for the patient’s serious or debilitating medical condition.




 
Monday, September 28, 2009

Support in numbers

Features Support in Numbers
Annual Remembrance Walk/Run benefits the Women’s Cancer Fund 9/28/09

The Remembrance Run/Walk is an annual event held at Timber Ridge Resort in Traverse City, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The 5K run/walk and one mile run/walk, happening this Saturday, provides more than just an afternoon of exercise.
For women like Susan Booth, it provides a network of support and assistance for women who are battling, what she calls, “a devastating disease.”
“Breast cancer doesn’t just affect you,” says Booth, a Kingsley resident. “It affects everyone around you.”
 
Monday, September 28, 2009

Season changes

Features Season Changes
Boyne resorts offer exciting events to celebrate fall 9/28/09


While summer serves as the anchor to Northern Michigan’s tourism economy, current trends show that the fall color season is coming on strong. One of the premier resorts in the Midwest, BOYNE (Mountain, Highlands and Bay Harbor) has embraced this trend by offering a series of events to attract visitors and locals alike.
 
Monday, September 21, 2009

Letters 9/21/09

Letters Letters 9/21/09

What health care system?
The term “health care system” bandied about in debates about health care reform in this country refers to something that does not exist. Just what is a system, anyway?
A system is integrated and complete. Your car’s power train is a system. A large corporate entity is a system. The Veteran’s Administration is a system. If we had a national health care system, which we do not, there would be a manager, a governing board, and uniformity of care. Costs of procedures would be uniform whether you are in New York, Los Angeles or Calumet.
I get my medical care through the VA. I can go to any VA clinic anywhere in the country and they have access to my health records. From time to time I can request an update of my medical records and receive it, complete. It’s now about 500 pages. That’s a system.
But if you go to Florida and have a heart attack there or some other medical emergency, your Florida doctor will be hard-pressed to obtain your medical history from your Michigan hospital. By the time they do (if they can at all), you may be dead. No wonder 100,000 die a year in this country from medical mistakes. There is no coordination, no system.
Instead, we have a hodge-podge of programs. Medicare, administered by the states and sometimes administered as an HMO by Blue Cross as a “Medicare advantage” (advantage to whom? Blue Cross?) is uneven. A procedure authorized in Florida may not be permitted in the U.P.
What we do have are for-profit hospital chains, some of them notorious for Medicare fraud, such as unbundling blood panels and charging for each result separately, resulting in multi-million dollar fines. The worst offenders are fee-for-service plans. Others are HMOs that decline service because it is too expensive and cuts into their profits.
We need a single-payer national health program. Your health depends upon it.

Harley Sachs • Houghton

The next generation
How will they remember us, the generation that has so utterly and completely failed them? Will they remember us as trying to right our wrongs? Fighting to level the playing field for their future pursuit of happiness? Or will they remember us as self-involved, fearful sheep who invoked “our children and grandchildren” for political purpose? Will they reminisce about us as a thoughtful, civil generation or will they see us as silver haired bullies trying to get our minutes of fame on Youtube?
We have built for our children a gilded cage. It is made of the finest materials we could not afford. The bars are constructed with I.O.U.s for wars we didn’t need to fight, pork projects we didn’t need to fund, and waste we didn’t care to control. Each bar is reinforced with fees and long term contracts and gilded with 24K greed. The bottom of the cage is lined with useless warranties and fine print. The ceiling is constructed of an impenetrable material made of corporate influence melded with congressional self interest. We have built for them a corporatocracy.
We owe the next generation more than throwing them in the hole we dug and handing them a shovel. It is our obligation to construct the strongest social safety net possible, including healthcare, regulation of banks, energy solutions and campaign finance reform. If we don’t get this right, forget generational theft and call it generational death. They won’t be able to pay off our debts. They won’t be able to repay their own. They will not survive.
I am ashamed of us for our selfishness. Just as we knew our parents as the “Greatest Generation” they will know us as the “I Got Mine Generation.” Newsflash: The fight for the healthcare reform is not about you.

Julie A Racine • Marion

Hugely offended
As a former “fudgie”, but for the last 7 years, a “local”, I found the advertisements for the “Farewell to Fudgies” celebrations over Labor Day weekend to be hugely offensive. But, my own feelings and opinions aren’t nearly as important as those of the people who fall into this “fudgie” category.
This announcement of CELEBRATION, as the foundation of the Traverse City Area economy leaves our area, is a direct insult to the wonderful tourists and seasonal inhabitants who come to this area, stay for a few days to several months, all the while depositing their dollars into our restaurants, resorts, businesses and services.
I just hope that most of these people who support the Traverse City economy in many ways, do NOT have subscriptions to Northern Express for the “off season.” Perhaps they will be spared this obnoxious insult!

Chris Clute, Honor, MI
 
Monday, September 14, 2009

Letters 9/14/09

Letters Letters 9/14/09
Personal experiences
There is another Traverse City woman with my name who occasionally writes letters to the editor. I’d like to clarify my own viewpoint on health care.
Because of my many years of legal work with people who are suffering and sometimes dying in misery due to growing problems with the health care industry, I do favor responsible reform.
Just like you, I am also personally sensitive to these issues along with millions of others. A few examples from my own experience:
• My mother was diagnosed with cancer in the 1980s and was without the benefit of hospice because she was uninsured at the time; this period was perhaps the biggest nightmare of my life. It was a grueling experience caring for her at home without help while raising two young daughters on my own. We managed, of course, because we had to and we shared her passing together with my disabled sister in a peaceful and loving way, but only after a great deal of incredible pain, hardship and financial sacrifice that by comparison to those with insurance would be totally unbelievable;
• My father, 85-years-old, is nicely insured under Medicare (a government program) and insurance supplements he purchased. He receives tremendously generous hospice care when he needs it and continues to enjoy life. His 95-year-old sister receives similar benefits. It’s a very nice situation as they share a family home together and are able to get by with visiting nurses at a great savings to their insurers over institutional care;
• My brother was a college student when he encountered his first significant health problems related to an injury which lingered past the time he was covered under our parent’s insurance. The interruption in the continuity of his care led to much larger health problems that were difficult to overcome; he died in his ‘30s.
I believe Americans have good hearts and souls; we will find our way through the current difficult issues and times ... and we will be better off for having taken the time to work it all out together.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has developed an online tool to help explain the differences between competing pieces of proposed legislation related to health care reform.
The link to this resource is: http://www.kff.org/healthreform/sidebyside.cfm
A link to global statistical health information shows that U.S. citizens are paying more than twice as much for health care: http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/2009/en/index.html
Our future is ours to create as a people. Let’s do it.

Sharon Neumann • TC

Fear & single-payer plan
The reason Obama can not answer satisfactorily the question so aggressively put to him about the high cost of his medical insurance plan is that he abandoned the the plan most certainly guaranteed to save the most money; the single payer health program which greatly lowers administrative costs and is not burdened with making the high profits of the private insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
Not enough attention is paid to the fact that versions of the English and Canadian systems, about which so may scare stories are being circulated, are already operating effectively in this country in the Veterans Administration and Medicare.
The often expressed “fear of the unknown” when it comes to medical reform must apply to all the current confusion in Congress not to the single payer idea, which we already have in this country.
The real scare is in the economics of the private system. A recent Harper’s Index tells us that since 2002 the premiums paid to large U.S. health insurance companies have gone up 85 percent; profits in the top 10 companies went up 438%. and that seven out of 10 Americans bankrupted by medical bills had private health insurance.

R.E. Reinert • Northport

Stop the budget cuts
I urge the Michigan Legislature to stop the cuts and increase revenue.
I am disturbed by the breadth and depth of cuts to essential State services that are being made in response to our financial deficit. Devastating cuts to early childhood education, physical and mental health services to low income citizens, K -12 and higher education, child protection and support programs, environmental protection and more will prove to haunt us for generations to come. Among other effects, these cuts represent an unraveling of Michigan’s investment in early childhood development and education.
No one wants to pay more taxes, but we must strategically increase revenue. Increased taxes on beer and cigarettes would raise significant funds with only a small cost to the users of these non-essential substances. (I’ll admit to enjoying beer, but would be happy to pay a few cents more.) New taxes on soft drinks are also a great idea.
Rep. Gary McDowell and other members of the legislature have identified many tax loopholes which benefit few but cost all of us. Closing these loopholes would go a long way to reducing the revenue gap and restore these essential services.
We must increase revenues and not balance the budget on the back of our most vulnerable neighbors.

Martha Lancaster • Petoskey

A clean energy economy
In the next month, the U.S. Senate will take on the important task of deciding between a cleaner, brighter future for Michigan or the dirty energy policies of the past. I am writing to urge Michigan residents to contact senators Stabenow and Levin to support comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation this year that will create jobs and reduce the harmful pollution that threatens the natural resources of the great lakes, and our tourism and agriculture economies.
Passage of clean energy and climate legislation is one of the most important things we can do to revitalize our economy and help solve the climate crisis. This legislation will drive investment in clean energy technologies by creating good-paying jobs. These are homegrown, Michigan jobs for Michigan workers, jobs that use the skills of today’s labor force and that cannot be outsourced.
We would be wise to reduce our dependence on foreign oil that threatens our national security. By transitioning to a clean energy economy, we can stop sending billions of dollars to unstable, hostile regimes for their oil and start pumping that money back into our own economy. Passing climate legislation will allow us to invest in domestic energy sources, like wind, solar and geothermal -- reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring we leave behind a healthy, prosperous planet for future generations.

Brenda Archambo • Cheboygan

Support single-payer plan
Apparent timidity in both the White House and Congress keeps a single payer health plan off the table. And many legislators receive handsome contributions from the private health industry, the cause of our expensive, under-performing health system.
A simple, single payer system, such as that called for in HR 676 would lead to major cost reductions, full coverage, and longer, more productive lives for Americans. Polls have found that a majority of Americans favor it; don’t be fooled by the current angry voices motivated by fear, lies and some corruption.
It’s time for Washington to develop a straightforward single payer national system.

Lou Ann McKimmy • via email



 
Monday, September 14, 2009

Local ski clubs/ Riding dirty

Features Rebooting Local Ski Clubs
Fundraisers and membership drives planned for two new clubs
9/14/09
Two of the region’s ski clubs are seeking a reboot, and we don’t mean slapping on a new pair of Salomons.
The newly-named Vasa Ski Club and the North Coast Snowsports Club are both planning fundraisers and/or membership drives this week in an attempt to get skiing back on track in the Grand Traverse/Leelanau/Manistee area.
“After many years of minimal activity, new and existing members of the Traverse Nordic Ski Club have reestablished our cross country ski club,” said Todd Vigland in a letter to members of the new VASA Ski Club. The club hopes to rebuild its membership, generate interest in cross-country skiing, offer group skiing and instruction, and regain prominence in statewide races.
 
Monday, September 7, 2009

Letters 9/7/09

Letters Letters 9/7/09
Wrong state priorities
I know of a person living in adult foster care here in Northern Michigan who has severe schizophrenia complicated now by problems with diabetes - the latter being a side effect of drugs used in the ‘90s to treat the schizophrenia.
In July, the Medicaid funding to care for his dental, vision and podiatry issues related to the diabetic care were cut by the State to help balance Michigan‘s budget. If the dental or podiatry problems are not cared for properly, these issues could become much larger problems and in the end cause much more expense for the State as well as serious pain and suffering for the individual involved.
I know our State has serious money shortages, but when I read about the case of the man who was recently busted for too many marijuana plants in Rapid City I really lost any understanding of our State’s funding priorities.
Apparently, this bust was preceded by a helicopter fly-over followed by the arrival of several law enforcement officers, and then they only confiscated less than half of the marijuana he was growing.
An operation of that size easily cost thousands of dollars to execute. Then the prosecutor in the case stated he was going to prosecute the case for the plants that were over the number this caregiver under our new law could grow, which will cost several thousand dollars more.
So the State seems to have plenty of money for this form of asinine behavior, but caring for those whose whole adult life has been a psychotic blur -- and don’t have the capacity to fight back -- is not that important. I don’t understand and accept no excuses for this kind of ignorance on the part of our State government. If you can’t do the job in a fair and objective manner get out of the business.

Robert A. Wallick • Cross Village

Fired for med marijuana
Today I was fired for medical marijuana use by my employer. They are a Michigan employer, and I live in Michigan, AND I have a card (approving me for medical marijuana), yet they fired me. They were not bothered by the five opiates I take for pain, and were willing to let me work on Fentanyl, morphine, Dilaudid, etc. However, when they found out I was a medical marijuana card holder, they fired me.
I am now facing not having any income. I am a 50 percent disabled veteran, trying to work to support my family and live with my medical conditions as pain-free as possible. How are patients like me supposed to work and provide for themselves and their families when the laws currently in place do not protect us like they are supposed to?
We need to identify this situation and act on it; patients that are treated with medical cannabis have enough problems, there is no reason we should not be able to work!

Nate Lovely • Buchanan, MI

Questions for TNT
A point of clarification regarding the TNT raid on medical marijuana grower Archie Kiel.
Three additional patients are in the process of certifying Archie Kiel as their caregiver, but it may be weeks before the certification from the State of Michigan arrives in the mail. There is a huge backlog at the Department of Community Health and patients are reporting a wait of 60-65 days between the time that they applied and when they actually receive their medical marijuana card.
In the interim, patients and caregivers are protected under the “affirmative defense” provision of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. So TNT, when are you going to give back his legal plants?
Archie is our local director of Kalkaska County NORML and as long as he is legal, he has the full support of our legal department. We will not have our Michigan NORML members being harassed any more!
What is TNT‘s yearly ratio of pot arrests compared to hard drug arrests (meth, heroin, crack-cocaine)? Could it be that cannabis consumers are their easiest targets because they are the most peaceful people on the planet?
How much did their helicopter and the gas for it cost in taxpayers‘ money? How much did this whole raid cost?
Good citizens of Northern Michigan, remember that your county commissioners and sheriff can pull the funding of TNT and kick them out of your county any time. Kalkaska County citizens, you need a new county prosecutor.
For more info on our new Medical Marijuana Law, go to www.QualifyingPatient.com . To join responsible, adult cannabis consumers who are going to continue reforming Michigan’s outdated marijuana Laws, go to www.minorml.org .

Rev. Steven B. Thompson
Michigan NORML • Benzonia
 
Monday, August 31, 2009

Region Watch: Community treasure stolen/Volunteers needed for Schooner Fest/ Calling all Christian rednecks/ Road whales sighted in Europe

Region Watch Region Watch 8/31/09
Community Treasure Stolen
A 125-year-old wrought iron gate on the grounds of the Village of Grand Traverse Commons was so beautiful, photographers often used it as a backdrop for graduation and wedding photos.
But the massive gate was stolen on August 18 with the use of bolt cutters to cut a security chain and most likely heisted in broad daylight.
“It was right across from the K parking lot of Munson Medical Center, but people see trucks there all the time and might have assumed we were having it refurbished. It would have taken four men to carry it, and they’d have to have a flat bed or huge moving truck to carry it,” said developer Ray Minervini, who is renovating the former Traverse City State Hospital into a village of shops, offices, clinics, condos, and restaurants.
“We had intended to restore the gate and the hidden garden behind it,” said Minervini, who said he was devastated by the theft. “It’s terrible. It belongs to the whole community. It’s not Ray’s gate, it’s the community’s gate.”
He called the theft “unconscionable” and plans to contact area salvage yards and architectural resale stores in case someone tries to sell the gate.
Minervini said there’s a reward for information leading to its return: “I’ll buy them dinner, give them a tour of the site, take them to the underground tunnels. If, whoever stole it comes to their senses, we won’t prosecute them.
“We implore anyone who may have witnessed this to provide any information, and beseech those responsible to simply return it to its rightful place in history,” he said.
If you have any information, call Ray Minervini at 941-1900 or go to www.thevillagetc.com.


 
Monday, August 31, 2009

Letters 8/31/09

Letters Letters 8/31/09
Everyone‘s loss
As a physician, I have worked long hours in the emergency room -- seen, felt the calamity. I will never forget one little boy. The nursery school brought him, saying he did not play that day. He was quiet. All tests returned negative. Since the family had no insurance, we sent him home with strict instructions to call or return if a fever or cough developed.
About five hours later he returned, dead on arrival. He had meningococcal meningitis, a very contagious, quick-acting killer. Everyone exposed to him received preventive medication. If he could have stayed the night, he would have received the medication he needed and hopefully would have recovered.
A woman was admitted with a mass in her left breast, larger than a grapefruit. She told us a truck hit her. We all knew better just from seeing it. Her cancer was too advanced. She died within the year. She was young, in her 30s, had three children. Both she and her husband worked, but they had no health insurance.
The case histories could fill a hospital with many untold stories of sorrow, pain, death. How do the uninsured get treatment? They wait until they can’t function anymore, then go to the emergency room. Their cost of care is 40 percent greater than preventative care. They are sicker. The outcome of death is more likely. With these facts, how can we not afford reform?
We pay more now, through our general taxes, for the uninsured person’s care through the emergency room than we would under any reform package offered. It is estimated that 52 million Americans will be uninsured by 2010. The lack of health insurance coverage causes 22,000 deaths each year. We are 45th in the world’s ranking for quality health care. We spend more, get less.
The lack of health care insurance is everyone’s loss. We pay for it through our taxes, loss of jobs, the weakening of our economy.
We pay for it with decreases in our own health care. Hospitals have to lay off nurses due to lack of funds. Our fees for hospital care have risen in an attempt to offset these losses.
We also pay for it in the loss of qualified physicians. The zeal to become a doctor for humanitarian reasons has been lost due to insurance companies’ demands to account for time and fill out forms, rather than account for patients helped and cured.
This is especially true for those practices where individual care and listening go a long way. Many doctors get discouraged or choose to work part time. The passion has been driven from them or has no opportunity to blossom.
Medicine is that trust in the doctor-patient relationship. That relationship hastens recovery, leads to cooperation with treatment, consoles. That relationship is being eroded by our health care system today.
I have provided my patients with the best care possible. But today, with the constraints the present health care system places on all physicians, it seems almost impossible.
It’s time to make things better.

Emmy Lou Cholak, M.D. • TC

Pretend you‘re a sponsor:
I appreciated Marc Ryan’s “Film Fest elitists” letter in the Express. Others share his view. I would, however, like to add a different perspective. Just for fun let’s pretend I’m a TCFF movie sponsor.
As a sponsor I am dismayed at the paltry benefits I receive, while volunteers seem to enjoy near stardom without forking over a dime. I plunk down $1,000 to sponsor a single movie at one of the smaller venues, or much more for a premium venue. What do I get?
I get a few “free” tickets. Free? They end up costing me $250 or more each. I get the honor of paying retail price for additional tickets. I get to show up early for a movie to stand outside in a special line on the pavement allowing some people to jeer at me like I am a third world dictator. I get “reserved” seating, often behind someone over six-feet-tall with big hair. I get my name mentioned at the start of my movie, which elicits polite applause from my friends while everyone else is getting popcorn or using the bathroom. Oh yes, I forgot to mention the hat, the free hat.
Meanwhile, I am surrounded by volunteers wearing cool T-Shirts adorned with neckbands displaying colorful, shiny ID cards, making them feel like VIPs for the entire week. Volunteers get an exclusive free, end-of-festival party with food, drinks, music and promotional items on the lawn of Building 50. Volunteers mingle with people on the streets that treat them like rock stars and thank them constantly. Volunteers get the support of one of the best volunteer management groups on the planet.
As a sponsor I am beginning to think I’m getting a raw deal. I might just switch sides and become one of the haves, a volunteer.

David Halperin • TC

Liner notes
In regard to August 24 letter entitled “Film Fest elitists:”
I, too, have volunteered not only for the Film Festival, but for the State Theatre. Might I suggest that if the writer were paying a bit more attention to instruction of the volunteers he might understand the two line system. It is a have and have not system, like he said; however, not for those with money.... but tickets.
When you are lined up to the right of the theatre it is because you have tickets to that movie. If you were unable to get advance tickets, then you can get in a standby line to the left.
Indeed, there are perks to being a sponsor at the Film Festival, but the many hundreds of us lined up to the right for each and every movie were not all sponsors.... we were merely lucky ticket holders.

Kim Dittmar • Kingsley
 
Monday, August 24, 2009

Letters 8/24/09

Letters Letters 8/24/09
Chance for real reform
If you are opposing health care reform, take a good look at your bedmates -- insurance and pharmaceutical companies and those that benefit directly from their lobbying dollars: members of Congress -- Republicans, and the Blue Dog Democrats.
This is our chance for real reform. This is what the majority of Americans voted for last November. Let’s not let this process get hijacked by a bunch of radicals whose primary motivating factor is a desire to see our president fail.
Our health care system has the best resources in the world. We need to manage them better as a nation while providing care to all our citizens.

David P McClary, MD • TC

Health care ranters
The 2009 health care reform debate has deteriorated into what appears to be culture wars where the politicians and corporate interests on the far right are manipulating those citizens most likely to become victims of our health care debacle into doing their dirty work for them.
The ranters at these town halls are drowning out the voices of the democratic process. They are puppets, apparently unaware that the health insurance puppeteers are spending millions every week on fake Internet campaigns masquerading as grassroots movements, spewing outright lies and whipping their foot soldiers into a frenzy of dangerous anger against Obama’s so-called socialism. They are playing with fire and fanning the flames with racist and anti-government rhetoric reminiscent of Timothy McVeigh and the militias.
Many of the protestors sent to these town halls rely on their (socialist) Social Security and Medicare to survive, oblivious to the inherent conflict with their position on health care reform. Indeed the same people who fire them up with anti-socialist fear-mongering also preach that Obama wants to change or diminish their valued (socialist) benefits.
Many others in these crowds will learn the truth about our health care system the hard way when they lose their insurance after filing a claim for what the industry will call a pre-existing condition or because they switch or lose their jobs or need expensive treatment for a serious illness. And no doubt they will be angry at the government for not protecting them from the heartless insurance bureaucrats.
The truth needs to be told. The proposed health care reforms, unless the wealthy puppeteers get their way, will protect us from having our lives or the lives of our loved ones destroyed by an illness or injury that forces us to file bankruptcy or even die while waiting for a denied insurance claim to be appealed.
There is no proposal to pull the plug on old people, force abortions on women, or any of the other garbage being peddled by the health care lobby.
The desperation of these people is pathetic. But their tactics are truly frightening.

Cindi DeSpelder • TC

Snide sarcasm
In an August 3 letter to the editor, Marsha Minervini expressed the opinion that enforcing parking fines during the Film Festival runs counter to the friendly, welcoming atmosphere that benefits our visitors and local businesses alike. In an August 10 response, Mike McGee wrote a woefully uninformed, unwarranted attack against this gracious lady.
His points about the triviality of a $5 parking fine are not unreasonable, and I’m glad to read them as part of a civil discussion of a community question. The snide sarcasm directed at Marsha, however, is offensive, ill-mannered, and so misguided as to be laughable. Chiding anyone named “Minervini” for missing our beautiful and historical buildings is irony at its finest! The most dramatic architecture in Traverse City is the Grand Traverse Commons -- a restoration of the Traverse City State Hospital and an urban near-miracle brought about, against significant odds, by developer Ray Minervini (Marsha’s husband) and their company, The Minervini Group. As a realtor, Marsha brings residents to those stunning and yet -- by the Minervinis’ socially conscientious design -- affordable condominiums at the Commons.
She should learn to make some sacrifices for the better good, as Mr. McGee wrote? Aside from the sacrifices of hours (and hours and hours) of work, personal stress, and financial risk involved in creating the Commons, Marsha and her husband donate hard-earned dollars to our residents and visitors as sponsors of the TC Film Festival. Marsha has twice been awarded her professional association’s Humanitarian/Community Service Award. At some risk to her own health, she participates in a long-term breast cancer prevention and research trial.
As Mr. McGee wrote, “Consume less” is a common and important theme. Another? “Be nice” -- or at least a little less nasty.

Bonnie Deigh • TC


Parking wars
The subject of parking tickets received while attending the Film Festival seems to be the topic du jour. Let me put in my two cents before next week when the nit-pickers will turn to another subject.
There is a reason why meters are only two hours. I have been living and doing business in Traverse City for 68 years and I appreciate not having to park in the garage just for my five-minute stops to call on my customers downtown. Most of the year as we all know, it is not difficult to find street parking downtown. During our wonderful Film Festival, it is quite challenging.
I have also had the pleasure of traveling to many other locations around the globe and although I cannot prove it, I have a theory that parking citations are not graciously dismissed in other cities to accommodate daytime moviegoers who are inconvenienced by meters that don’t jive with their itinerary.
I hold a dreaded opposing view to public opinion in that I would like to see the fine for parking meter violations increase. Most people think it’s charming that our city charges so little. I on the other hand would rather not have people using the few spaces available as their downtown driveway. Perhaps increasing the fine would serve as a deterrent. I imagine the city would benefit from the added revenue.
So for those downstate developers turned into local heroes, tourists and locals alike who have the luxury of attending afternoon movies followed by a day of leisure, please make arrangements for long-term parking or pay the minuscule fine so the rest of us can go about our workday. Film Festival or not.

Carl Dalzelle • TC

Smell the jet fuel...
Ah, Northern Michigan and the sweet smell of jet fuel in the air, the roar of jet engines from dawn until midnight, the lovely sight of commercial and private jets turning our blue skies a strange color of milky blue gray. I was dismayed and astonished by the editor’s purporting the wonderful benefits of increased air traffic into TC in the article, “Our Magic Bubble,“ (July 13, 2009).
Wait a minute, isn’t TC supposed to be a progressive municipality, a leader in the “green movement,” an “environmentally friendly” city? News flash, it’s not “sustainable” or “green” to fly! (Especially a private plane!) In fact it’s horribly polluting on a whole ‘nother level! (For starts, check out this academic but straightforward article: “Greenhouse Gas Pollution in the Stratosphere Due to Increasing Airplane Traffic, Effects on the Environment“ by Katta G. Murty)
Even though there is a general lack of media coverage about the particularly polluting effects of air travel and a corresponding lack of awareness about it’s insidiousness, the facts are there. Honestly, there is no lack of information or scientific data, only a lack of desire to give up our communal denial about it. If we are sincere about wanting to save our home, the planet, we have to stop pretending that air travel is harmless. Far from it. Check out the facts; shucks, not as much fun as Orbitz or Expedia surfing/fantasizing maybe, but so excitingly in touch with reality!

Gail Semer • TC
 
 
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