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, 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
 
Monday, January 18, 2010

Letters

Letters Overwired hipsters
After reading your article, “The Great Beagle Chase,” I was struck with a
much deeper understanding of why so many people in the rest of the world
have come to hate and fear us and why we in fact have come to feel the
same way about each other.
It is not so much that they hate our freedom as much as what we do with
it. It’s true, we face many issues greater than one more over-wired,
self-absorbed urban hipster but, I do not think it was “ironic” that Lima
was found by the one person paying attention and not spending time
‘tweeting’ on their iPhone, updating Facebook and writing a blog.
While it may be that I fall on the side of Mr. Howe in matters of politics
and culture in this very divided country, let me make one thing perfectly
clear - if you have a Facebook page for your dog you are part of the
problem.

James Carpenter • via email
 
Monday, January 18, 2010

Pinewood Derby

Features Racers: Rev up for the Pintwood Derby
Remember those happy days of youth, competing in the Cub Scout’s Pinewood
Derby with a homemade, gravity-powered race car?
No? Well, now is your chance to get a taste of what you missed with the
Pintwood Derby racing series at the Right Brain Brewery in TC’s Warehouse
District between Jan. 27-April 14.
 
Monday, January 11, 2010

Letters

Letters Name cleared
My son and I again want to thank The Northern Express and Anne Stanton for
telling our story (“Branded For Life,” March 23, 2009) detailing our
experience with the juvenile justice system and the Michigan Sex Offender
Registry (SOR). So many positive things have happened since then.
We were successful in finally finding an attorney who understood the
nature of our situation. We only had three years from “Jim’s” release from
state custody to petition the court for removal from the SOR. We filed in
June with only days to spare. The judge saw reason and granted our
petition, but my son still has a felony conviction on his record.
Since then “Jim” has thrived. He has stopped hiding behind his hair. One
of his teachers commented that it was so good to see his face and eyes. He
is getting excellent grades and scored a 92 on his ASVAB. His enthusiasm
about his future is awesome. Last year at this time he was laying around
in his room thinking that his life was over because of a mistake that he
made when he was 10 years old.
It was bad enough that his childhood and innocence were taken away from
him by being exposed to a bunch of sexual deviants in treatment. Finding
out that he had to register quarterly as a sex offender for at least 25
years was unbearable.
More than once I left the jail in tears over the humiliation of having to
drag my child in to register as a sex offender - it was also a horrible
ordeal for my son. Every three months we were reminded of what happened.
Having the police at my door on more than one occasion has also been
embarassing for us. We are so grateful that it is over.
I am still being billed by the court for Jim’s “treatment” and I am paying
what little I can afford. As a single mom with two children there isn’t
any extra money in our budget for the $12,000 plus owed by me to the
court. I hope to address this issue in the future.
Thanks again for telling stories like ours that the mainstream media
ignore. You provide a valuable public service and we are forever grateful.

“Sandy” and “Jim”

(“Branded for Life” involved the case of “Jim,” a 10-year-old boy who
inappropriately touched his 11-year-old cousin on the outside of her
underwear and was branded a sex offender. - ed.)
 
Monday, January 4, 2010

Letters

Letters Don‘t change term limits
I once had a professor tell me that no politician should be elected to office more than once.
His reasoning was if they aren’t smart enough to line their pockets in one term we sure don’t want them around for two terms.
If you give a politician two drinks at the well he will want three and so forth. They will never be happy with the limits we need to put on them.
Our federal government is a prime example of what you get when you give anyone power and no end to its use. I have heard the word trust used in the argument to remove term limits. If you know a politician you trust, please write a letter to the editor and tell us why. Also, tell me why they can’t get the job done in one term. We limit the highest office in our government to two terms.

Norbert Tutlis • TC
 
Monday, December 28, 2009

Letters

Letters Seek Medicare for all
The United States, the wealthiest country on earth, is the only
industrialized nation that has not accepted the moral imperative to
provide health care for all of its citizens.
Because we haven’t, tens of thousands of Americans die each year, our
infant mortality rate is double that of the other industrialized
nations, thousands of uninsured people rely on hospital emergency
departments for care which could be delivered better in an office
setting at lower cost, and overwhelming health care costs are the
leading cause of personal bankruptcy.
We have experience with various plans; private health insurance with
overhead costs exceeding 25%, HMOs and PPOs with designated care
providers, tax-supported government run systems such as military and
veterans clinics and hospitals, and Medicare. Medicare is a
single-payer government insurance plan, not a government run
(socialized) health care system. It relies on a separate private
health care delivery system, allows free choice of physicians and
hospitals, has no restrictions for pre-existing conditions and has
overhead costs of less than 5%.
There is no free lunch and no free health care. We pay twice as much
as other industrialized nations for health care and receive less in
return. But if Medicare was available to all citizens (a single-payer
option), the purchasing power could dramatically decrease drug and
medical provider costs. And if individuals or employers paid their
premiums or taxes (different names; same money) to a system such as
Medicare rather than for private insurance, savings from lower
overhead costs alone would be enormous. We could have high quality
care and add nothing to the national debt.
If you like your present insurance coverage, keep it. But if you want
good care for all of our citizens at lower cost, encourage your
congressmen to insist on a single-payer option.

William R. Olsen M.D. • Northwest Michigan Cares
 
Monday, December 28, 2009

National Writers Series

Features National Writers Series offers 2010 lineup
When author Doug Stanton was growing up in Traverse City, he wondered
if it would be possible to bring nationally-known writers to his
hometown to talk about what they knew. This year, he’ll make that
dream happen, bringing some of the brightest celebrities of the
literary world to downtown Traverse City.
 
Monday, December 21, 2009

Top 20 Michigan notable books

Books Top 20: Michigan Notable Books
Each year, the Library of Michigan compiles its list of 20 Notable Books highlighting Michigan people, places, and events.
Short stories of people living on the rough side of life in Detroit; a biography of the state’s first geologist; and a children’s book that tells the story of a slave family’s flight to freedom are among this year’s most notable Michigan books.
“This year’s Michigan Notable Books bring to life the Michigan experience through vivid storytelling that creates portraits of the people and places that make Michigan great,” said State Librarian Nancy Robertson. “These books celebrate Michigan as a place and a people that even in the most trying of times find transformation.”
Michigan Notable Books is a statewide program that began as part of the 1991 Michigan Week celebration, geared to pay tribute and draw attention to the people, places and things that make Michigan life unique.
The 2009 Michigan Notable Books are:
 
Monday, December 21, 2009

Letters

Letters No lack of concerts
In response to Rick Coates’ article “Where Are All the Concerts?” (12/14).
Here is a list of music performances from international touring
musicians and bands that have performed at InsideOut Gallery in just
the last two of the four years we have been presenting concerts. Many
of these artists have returned two and three times. A very large
number of these acts were booked and performed during the winter
months. Sorry Mr. Coates missed them.
Many of these shows were co-produced by Seamus Shinners of Connemara
Concerts, who has been sponsoring great music in this region for
decades. Seamus produces many great music performances at many
different venues every month. If anyone should be included in a round
table discussion about the concert promoters and venue managers in
this area, it’s him.
You want to truly find out how the live music biz works? Look no
further than Traverse City’s very own Rick Shimmel. You could do a
whole separate magazine on what Rick has accomplished in the live
concert promotion world.
Coates and the Northern Express need to get off the Applebees Music
Circuit and start paying greater attention to the “truly innovative”
music that is being presented in Northern Michigan on a regular basis.
Sorry if it sounds like sour grapes on my part, but good God -- lame
classic rock and the casinos? See you at the next Chubby Checker show!
(Included was a list of more than 60 performers.)

Michael Curths • InsideOut, TC

 
Monday, December 14, 2009

Letters

Letters Riveting Read...
Anne Stanton’s articles on U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak should be reprinted
in the Washington Post and New York Times. Her Stupak interview about
the world of the C Street “Family” (12/7) is riveting.
As a Grand Traverse Democrat, I supported Mr. Stupak for years, but no
more. The Stupak Amendment to the health care bill is a pointed,
political attack on women’s health insurance rights and reproductive
rights. His association with the “Family” (a secret religious group in
Washington DC) – is very surprising news.

Grant W. Parsons • TC
 
Monday, December 7, 2009

Letters

Letters Rooster Ruckus
I would like to thank Noah Fowle and the Express for the article on
our pet bird, Beaker. A clarification on a couple things, however
-- Jim Tamlyn stated Beaker is outside crowing and the neighbors are
complaining, not noting it is only a small number of neighbors
complaining.
According to Emmet County’s own investigators, who have been on
site several times -- they never heard the rooster. Beaker lives
indoors, has his own kennel (cleaned daily) in our basement. In
limited increments, Beaker does go outside after 12 noon, and is
brought inside if he crows excessively, just as one would do with a
barking dog (like the ones owned by our complaining neighbors).
The same zoning ordinance also prohibits planting flowers,
vegetables or trees on less than two acres. Yet, while Emmet County
chooses not to enforce this obviously ridiculous part of the
ordinance, it is heavy-handedly executing orders in another part of
the same ordinance.
This is a case of discrimination and unfair application of the law.
We have tried to place Beaker on three separate farms and each time
were requested to come and get him as the people feared he would not
survive because he was so stressed. He is deathly afraid of other
chickens. He has bonded to his human and animal family and would
likely suffer from separation.
If Beaker were a special needs child, I am fairly certain our
neighbors would not object. But, he is a ‘special needs’ animal and
our neighbors simply cannot wrap their limited imaginations around the
concept that a bird is a bird.
Keeping Beaker is no different from keeping a parrot or a cockatoo
for a pet, yet these are allowed and he is NOT. Where is the so-called
‘compassion‘ in that reasoning?

Andy & Sharon Peters • Petoskey
 
Monday, November 30, 2009

Letters

Letters Escape from Afghanistan
The best way to get rid of a good idea is to give it to a committee that never meets.
Some people are growing impatient with President Obama for not making a decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan. What he’s doing is waiting for the whole idea of having troops there to die on the vine, and for good reason.
There is no definition of victory in Afghanistan. We are not going to convert Afghans to Christianity or turn them into Republicans and Democrats. An authority on what it would take for Karzai to equip and maintain a militia to hold onto power in the country estimates it would cost four billion a year, while the entire gross national product of the country is only one billion. It is not going to happen.
The Taliban are not the enemy of the
United States, though we are converting them fast to hate us. Our enemy is al Qaeda, an invisible, international group of fanatic terrorists with no borders and no uniforms. The Soviets had 300,000 troops in Afghanistan and lost. The country has been the death of empires that tried to subdue those fighting folks. You don’t go to bed with rattlesnakes.
So what’s the exist strategy? Simple: convene a conference of all countries that have their troops there and admit that the Taliban versus Karzai’s government is an internal conflict and none of our business. The U.S. cannot simply back out unilaterally without looking like a bunch of quitters and wimps, but if the consensus of the countries contributing troops is that there is no definition of victory, shutting down the effort is smart.
Sure, it will leave Karzai twisting in the wind, which he surely will at the end of a rope when the Taliban retake control of their country but remember: it is their country. We are interlopers, invaders, even crusaders if you will. We can offer Mr. Karzai asylum to save his hide, but that’s just a small factor in the end game.
With half of our own children dependent on food stamps and millions unemployed we have no business pumping money into a corrupt government where everyone steals and we stand to gain nothing but enemies whose culture believes in revenge, not reconciliation.
Keep on waiting, President Obama. Let the committee decide.

Harley Sachs • Houghton, MI
 
Monday, November 23, 2009

Letters

Letters Stupak & women
In response to the article on the Stupak amendment by Anne Stanton in the November 16 Northern Express Weekly:
Congressman Stupak, you claim in the article that National Public Radio says some groups that oppose your amendment are misrepresenting the facts. I, too, listened to the NPR analysis of your abortion ban amendment, and clearly we heard two different things.
Whereas you heard, “Keeps the law the same,” I heard, “Makes permanent a law that currently has to be renewed every year,” and, “Abortion rights could be curtailed if this bill becomes law.”
I think we both heard, “Women still have the option to buy an extra rider to cover abortion services.” Although being a woman, I think my interpretation was a little different than yours. Mr. Stupak.
I have likely never been as insulted by anyone as you at that moment in my life. I actually yelled at the nice NPR anchor. “Women do not plan unplanned pregnancies! We plan the births of our children. We plan on providing for them. We plan every last penny in our lives in order to do so! What a ridiculous notion that we will be without coverage because we didn’t plan to have an abortion.”
Hide behind the “we’ve got to get this thing passed” rhetoric all you want. But what I just heard was, “Women be damned.”
If we are poor, federal employees, members of the military, receiving Indian Health Insurance, on Medicaid, on disability, hoping for a public option, likely to receive federal subsidies on a public option – if we are in fact the women who already pay more for our medical costs than men because we pay for years of reproductive health coverage like birth control – then what I just heard was, “You are my Political Pawn.”
I would encourage men and women alike to contact their representatives and ask them to oppose this amendment.
Maybe then what I will hear from you, Congressman Stupak, is an apology.

Jennifer Kirkpatrick Johnson
• Kingsley
 
Monday, November 16, 2009

Letters

Letters No guns on campus
I live in Leelanau county, the same beautiful county where State Senator Michelle McManus resides. It is very important that I voice my opposition to having her legislation introduced to allow concealed weapons on college campuses.
I spent 25 years working with students on a college campus. Our security did not even carry guns. A college campus consists of a community of students between the ages of (approximately) 17-23 years of age. These students reside in a wonderful environment, for a few years in their lives.
I am so appalled at the concept of carrying concealed weapons on campus that I find myself searching for words to express my dismay on this issue.
Students do not want to sit in classes, go to events, or walk to parking lots knowing that the person near them is carrying a concealed weapon. Faculty and staff do not want students to have weapons. When weapons, of any dangerous kind, are found on students or in residence halls, they are confiscated, to protect themselves and the other members on campus. I sincerely hope that
Sen. McManus examines the concept of students being allowed to carry concealed weapons. I shudder at the thought.

Dorothy Mudget • Leelanau County

Heartbroken
On October 26 the Express ran an article called the “High Price of Toking.” Imagine my heartbreak as I read the article about my son, Trevor Coddington. I was not consulted about this ‘story’ and had I been, I would have reminded the writer and participants that this child is no longer with us, and disgracing his memory for monetary gain, as is mentioned in the story, is unconscionable.
Whether the court system was 100 percent correct in its treatment of my son or not, the decisions were made, years ago. As a responsible parent, I will pay for what is required by the court.
Trevor was a good and loving son. Unfortunately he will not get a chance to prove that, or what a great adult he would have been.
Might I suggest a good story called “The High Price of Grief?” Perhaps the word compassion will come up in that particular story.
Sandy Zoulek • via email

(The Express attempted to contact Sandy Zoulek for the story, but was unable to obtain her address or phone number. - ed.)
 
Monday, November 9, 2009

Letters

Letters Letters 11/09/09
Parents & responsibility
Is this article about the high costs parents pay for their children’s crimes or is it a sob story about a teen drug addict? (Re: “The High Price of Toking,” 10/26.) The fact is that teens with parents that take responsibility for their children’s actions make
better parents.
This article shows that the father, Dan, was trying to get out of paying his son’s fines rather than simply having his son, Trevor, assume some of the responsibility. The saddest part of this story is that Dan did not seem to be able to control Trevor. Even after months in rehab Trevor continued to ‘hang with the wrong crowd’ and use drugs and alcohol. Why did Dan allow this? Considering the lack of parental control in young Trevor’s life, I agree that the parents should be responsible for the fines and costs.
I feel sorry for Trevor’s mother; she seems to have had no say in what discipline Trevor received and yet she paid the fines and costs without complaint.
I am the non-custodial parent of a teenage boy (he lives with his grandmother due to the poor choices I made in the past). I have already had to pay some court costs for the choices he has made. Yet, whenever I try to suggest a different way to discipline, or voice an opinion as to the unacceptable behavior of his friends, I am reminded that I do not have custody and therefore (in their opinion) I have no say in his upbringing.
I understand how Trevor’s mother must feel, and I am sorry for her loss.

Elizabeth Fox • via email


Advice for journalists
In his column Robert Downes reflected about which stories to pursue in the Nov.
3-10 Northern Express. In that issue you carried a long story by Anne Stanton about a woman who could be brought up on a murder charge. You went through her history in painstaking detail in a manner reminiscent of Jerry Springer.
I would argue that such a story should not be featured in your newspaper. Why? Because it does not relate to larger issues that affect the public. By contrast, your piece on Dan Coddington (“The High Price of Toking”) and the justice of courts inflicting large monetary obligations upon youth and parents is totally appropriate because it lays bare state laws and law enforcement practices that could be changed.
While the difficulty in getting all the facts frequently provides a barrier to writing a story (as Downes indicates), some stories are not worth investigating simply because they have no significance outside the people directly involved. Reject the stories for which evidence cannot be found. Reject the stories that have no significance. Following those rules you should be able to do a terrific job on the rest!

Richard Fidler • TC
 
 
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