Letters

Letters 08-25-14

Save America

I read your paper because it’s free and I enjoy the ads. But I struggle through the left wing tripe that fills every page, from political cartoons to the vitriolic pen of Mr. Tuttle. What a shame this beautiful area of the state has such an abundance of Socialist/democrats. Or perhaps the silent majority chooses to stay silent...

Doom, Yet a Cup Half Full

In the news we are told of the civil unrest at Ferguson, Mo; ISIS war radicals in Iraq and Syria; the great corporate tax heist at home. You name it. Trouble, trouble, everywhere. It seems to me the U.S. Congress is partially to blame...

Uncomfortable Questions

defending the positions of the Israelis vs Hamas are far too narrow. Even Mr. Tuttle seems to have failed in looking deeply into the divide. American media is not biased against Israel, nor or are they pro Palestine or Hamas...

The Evolution of Man Revisited

As the expectations of manhood evolve, so too do the rules of love. In Mr. Holmes’s statement [from “Our Therapist Will See Us Now” in last week’s issue] he narrows the key to a successful relationship to the basic need to have your wants and needs understood, and it is on this point I expand...

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Letters 7/13/09

Letters Letters 7/13/09
Michael Jackson fanmail
You’ve got to be kidding me with this article: your “Northern View” on the death of Michael Jackson was rude and insulting (re: “The King is Dead... Get Used to It“). It was plain to read Ross Boissoneau did not take the time to do his research on the “king of pop.”
Does he pull the wings off flies while they are still alive too? I grew up with the music of Michael Jackson and that man had more talent than anyone could ever comprehend. That man was a musical genius and more. Hasn‘t the writer ever heard him mouth musical instruments? Hasn’t he been to one of MJ‘s concerts? Didn’t he know that financially, MJ is written in the world records book as the most charitable entertainer in the world? Did he mention how many thousands of children MJ has helped over the years that were sick and dying? Did he ever meet Michael Jackson?
Before you wrote this trash article, Boissoneau, did you bother to take the time to really think what it must have been like to be Michael Jackson, world famous, but yet so lonely? I think the media can blame themselves for what they did to him, name-calling and all. What do you look like in the mirror... circus freak!
Out of respect for the dead alone, Boissoneau should be ashamed of himself and perhaps report back to the National Enquirer.

Sylvia Bowling • via email

The courage to say it
Bless Ross Boissoneau for his frank and honest evaluation of Michael Jackson. We need to appreciate his music and talent, but definitely not gloss over his bizarre and damaging past. Thank you Ross for having the courage to say it all.

Dan & Barbara Goodearl • via email

Lesson for young losers
As of late, I am wondering if the younger generation of Americans are worth giving jobs to? Small business owners that I know all say the same thing: you can’t get good help.
Young Americans have been brought up to understand you get rewarded even if you don’t perform, and when they go into the job market they have no ethics or reason to take on responsibility for their actions or follow directions. What a shame that we have raised such a bunch of losers. They don’t want to start at the bottom and feel they deserve top pay for doing nothing or next to nothing.
Maybe hiring illegals is the only way some businesses will be able to survive and prosper. The people of America have to change the way we raise our kids and quit pampering their egos with a false sense of accomplishment. If they come in second or last, it isn’t the end of the world, but would show them they need to try harder to be #1.

James C. Williams • Kalkaska


Sneaky behavior
Another example of our local government enacting a tax:
I own property in East Jordan. I do not live in East Jordan, so I pay property taxes at the higher ‘non’ Homestead’ rate (which I knew upon purchasing the property several years ago). In addition, in annual increases in taxable value (despite significant evidence that property values have decreased in recent years), I recently opened my summer tax bill to find it was more than 50 percent higher than last year’s summer tax bill.
Upon investigating this, I learned the following:
East Jordan School System decided, unilaterally, to change the school‘s portion of property tax collection from a one-time collection from the winter tax bill, to collecting one-half in the winter, and one-half in the summer tax bills. I was told this was not a tax increase. Yet, I paid the full school tax with my winter tax bill. I am now paying another one-half with my summer tax bill, and will pay another one-half with my next winter tax bill, etc.
So, today, I have to come up with another $1,100; my future tax payments (on an annual basis), will not be reduced by $1,100. This is a tax increase, pure and simple.
This is particularly underhanded in that I had no notification of any public discussion of this; I received no notice when it was passed; my only notice came with my tax bill, with a due date of less than 30 days of receipt of the bill.
I find this sort of sneaky, back door behavior by public officials insidious. Of course, since I am a non-resident, and can’t vote them out of office, they probably don’t care what I think. When you tax everyone out of their properties (local businesses, and anyone with non-homestead property got hit with the same tax increase - homestead property did too, but at a much lower rate), you’re not going to have much of a tax base left.
Thank you, East Jordan School Board, for demonstrating bad government doesn’t exist just in Lansing and Washington. You qualify to leech off of the public just like they do.
If you’re a voter in East Jordan, please ask yourselves if these are the type of people you want educating your children.

Tim Prophit • East Jordan




 
Monday, July 6, 2009

Summer sounds 2009

Music Summer Sounds 2009
at Michigan Legacy Art Park
7/6/09

One of Northern Michigan’s most unusual concert venues is at the Michigan Legacy Art Park at Crystal Mountain in Benzie County. Set in the forest on a hill adjacent to the ski slopes, a tiny amphitheatre hosts Friday night concerts throughout the summer.
A bonus is the Art Park trail which leads past dozens of sculptures spread throughout the forest, culminating in a “fort” that is part stockade part maze with a fabulous view.
 
Monday, July 6, 2009

Letters 7/06/09

Letters Letters 7/5/09
Tampering with pot vote
There are three State Senate bills being introduced that will take away patients‘ rights to grow their own medical marijuana as originally written in Prop 1 and passed by a majority of voters.
The bills are 616, 617 and 618. While it seems that the bills are working to bring more regulations and public safety to the growing of medical marijuana, instead, it may bring about a statewide monopoly and more federal (DEA) involvement.
First, the DEA does not like large growing operations or buying clubs (the trouble plaguing California‘s medical marijuana) and would target the “medical marijuana growing facilities“ (SB618). Whereas, a “caregiver,” as defined in the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA), can only provide medicine for six patients on a much more personal level and is not as big a target.
Bill 616 wishes to amend the MMMA by changing marijuana to a Schedule 2 drug, distributed by a pharmacist, thus taking away the right of patients to grow their own medicine without fear of prosecution. Changing a Federally Scheduled Class 2 drug at the state level may bring in federal agents/agencies and disrupt the needed supply of medicine to patients. Growing a plant does not require additional regulations and oversight as proposed by this bill. Patients cannot poison themselves by growing this medicine. If you grow a plant incorrectly it simply dies.
The original intention and outline of the MMMA, should stand. That is to allow patients access to low-cost medicine, by growing it themselves, if desired.
Having this medicine available at a pharmacy would allow more doctors access to medicinal grade marijuana; however, the federal government may see things differently. Michigan voted to give patients medicine, not a federal government fight.
Call your senator today on this issue, as it will be voted upon soon.

Nirinjan Singh • TC

The new GM
I read with interest Don Montie‘s letter, “Bad auto payback,“ June 2). It appears Don worked at the BOC Assembly plant at Willow Run, which closed in the ‘80s (back when Michigan black tag license plates were a problem in Texas).
I worked at the Hydramatic/Powertrain plant in the same complex at Willow Run until last year. During the ‘70s-‘80s BOC had 4,000-5,000 employees and Powertrain had 14,000 employees. Then GM didn’t make quality products or respond to consumers‘ desires.
Thirty years ago over 50 percent of our plant‘s workforce was under 25 years old, made up of people who graduated from high school in the ‘60s and ‘70s when drug and alcohol use was viewed casually. Back then it was bad, but over the years the people with those problems were let go under the absenteeism programs, drug/ alcohol control programs, quit, or never came back from a layoff.
In the ‘70-‘80s, we made 20-30 transmission products for GM vehicles. One person ran one machine that may have had a cycle time of three-five minutes. You moved your parts to the next machine process by hand, and management didn’t care about quality, just build numbers.
Today, GM is soon to build only a front-wheel and a rear-wheel drive transmission, both with different output housings/torque converters/bell housings for different style and size vehicles. An operator now may run up to 50 long cycle-time machines in a pod, reducing costs; and parts are moved ergonomically on conveyors or chuting with little or no handling.
GM does studies now to minimize the number of times a part is handled from when it comes into the plant to when it leaves, to reduce costs. During the ‘70s, a part that may have had one or two quality checks; today, it is checked for more things and checked at every machining operation.
Today, we build a more complex product with less manpower, better quality, and lower costs that often surpass Honda’s and Toyota’s product numbers.
As to the quality of the employees, I was proud to work with them. To work with 2,000 people and not work with a thief, a drunk, a racist, or a drug abuser is just as likely as to not work with a minister, a VA volunteer, a National Guardsman who served in Iraq, a volunteer EMS fireman, or the many other employees involved in charitable causes and doing good deeds. A bad egg in a company of 10-25 employees is much more noticeable than one in a much larger company, but a bad egg in a big company is liked as much as a bad egg in a small company. I haven’t read “been there,” but the GM of the past is nothing like the GM of the present.

Ray Ravary, Jr. • 32-year GM employee/retiree

Say no to sprinklers
A proposal before the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth to require new residential homes have interior sprinkling systems is ill advised. It is well established that smoke detectors are a more reliable and cost effective way of saving lives.
Hardwired interconnected battery back-up smoke detectors run an average of $50 per detector while independent tamper-proof 10-year battery smoke detectors run between $20 and $25. The average quote in Michigan for installed sprinkler systems for homes on municipal water was $6,566.57 and $11,975.60 for homes on well water.
Families who cannot qualify to purchase the new homes due to the new costs from the mandatory requirement for sprinklers will have to live in housing that is less safe because that housing was built to less stringent code requirements.
Increasing the cost of a new home also drives up the price of existing homes. The greater the increase in the price of existing homes the more Michigan families who are forced to live in less safe homes.

Mike Farrer • TC


Inconvenient
For over a decade I’ve had to mail a paper check twice annually to Garfield Township to pay my property taxes. I was glad to see that the township now offers an online credit card payment option, but only through www.officialpayments.com, which is owned by a company in Reston, Virginia. A “convenience fee” is charged for this service. That is a disappointment, as my own online bill-payment service through a local bank is free.
Using the website’s online calculator, I found the “convenience fee” on a $1,500 tax bill to be $45! This fee is for a one-time payment! Perhaps Garfield Township officials feel the “convenience fee” is a good value in exchange for the convenience (to them) of not having to manually process a large volume of “snailmail” and paper checks.
I decided to continue to mail a paper check to Garfield Township. I’ll use the money I save by not paying the “convenience fee” to help the local economy and buy a good dinner at one of our finer local restaurants.
I’m wondering how many other Garfield Township taxpayers will prefer not to have this “convenient” online service eat their lunch!

Hillar Bergman • TC
 
Monday, July 6, 2009

Letters 7/06/09

Letters Letters 7/6/09
Tampering with pot vote
There are three State Senate bills being introduced that will take away patients‘ rights to grow their own medical marijuana as originally written in Prop 1 and passed by a majority of voters.
The bills are 616, 617 and 618. While it seems that the bills are working to bring more regulations and public safety to the growing of medical marijuana, instead, it may bring about a statewide monopoly and more federal (DEA) involvement.
First, the DEA does not like large growing operations or buying clubs (the trouble plaguing California‘s medical marijuana) and would target the “medical marijuana growing facilities“ (SB618). Whereas, a “caregiver,” as defined in the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA), can only provide medicine for six patients on a much more personal level and is not as big a target.
Bill 616 wishes to amend the MMMA by changing marijuana to a Schedule 2 drug, distributed by a pharmacist, thus taking away the right of patients to grow their own medicine without fear of prosecution. Changing a Federally Scheduled Class 2 drug at the state level may bring in federal agents/agencies and disrupt the needed supply of medicine to patients. Growing a plant does not require additional regulations and oversight as proposed by this bill. Patients cannot poison themselves by growing this medicine. If you grow a plant incorrectly it simply dies.
The original intention and outline of the MMMA, should stand. That is to allow patients access to low-cost medicine, by growing it themselves, if desired.
Having this medicine available at a pharmacy would allow more doctors access to medicinal grade marijuana; however, the federal government may see things differently. Michigan voted to give patients medicine, not a federal government fight.
Call your senator today on this issue, as it will be voted upon soon.

Nirinjan Singh • TC

The new GM
I read with interest Don Montie‘s letter, “Bad auto payback,“ June 2). It appears Don worked at the BOC Assembly plant at Willow Run, which closed in the ‘80s (back when Michigan black tag license plates were a problem in Texas).
I worked at the Hydramatic/Powertrain plant in the same complex at Willow Run until last year. During the ‘70s-‘80s BOC had 4,000-5,000 employees and Powertrain had 14,000 employees. Then GM didn’t make quality products or respond to consumers‘ desires.
Thirty years ago over 50 percent of our plant‘s workforce was under 25 years old, made up of people who graduated from high school in the ‘60s and ‘70s when drug and alcohol use was viewed casually. Back then it was bad, but over the years the people with those problems were let go under the absenteeism programs, drug/ alcohol control programs, quit, or never came back from a layoff.
In the ‘70-‘80s, we made 20-30 transmission products for GM vehicles. One person ran one machine that may have had a cycle time of three-five minutes. You moved your parts to the next machine process by hand, and management didn’t care about quality, just build numbers.
Today, GM is soon to build only a front-wheel and a rear-wheel drive transmission, both with different output housings/torque converters/bell housings for different style and size vehicles. An operator now may run up to 50 long cycle-time machines in a pod, reducing costs; and parts are moved ergonomically on conveyors or chuting with little or no handling.
GM does studies now to minimize the number of times a part is handled from when it comes into the plant to when it leaves, to reduce costs. During the ‘70s, a part that may have had one or two quality checks; today, it is checked for more things and checked at every machining operation.
Today, we build a more complex product with less manpower, better quality, and lower costs that often surpass Honda’s and Toyota’s product numbers.
As to the quality of the employees, I was proud to work with them. To work with 2,000 people and not work with a thief, a drunk, a racist, or a drug abuser is just as likely as to not work with a minister, a VA volunteer, a National Guardsman who served in Iraq, a volunteer EMS fireman, or the many other employees involved in charitable causes and doing good deeds. A bad egg in a company of 10-25 employees is much more noticeable than one in a much larger company, but a bad egg in a big company is liked as much as a bad egg in a small company. I haven’t read “been there,” but the GM of the past is nothing like the GM of the present.

Ray Ravary, Jr. • 32-year GM employee/retiree

 
Monday, June 29, 2009

Letters 6/29/09

Letters Bad auto payback
I read the letter from Adrian from Beulah and agree with what he had to say (re: “Support the Home Team,“ 6/15).
I spent over 30 years with General Motors at the Willow Run Plant where we built the Corvair, Chevy II, Buick, Olds, Caddy and Caprice, to name a few. One of our tasks was to count the non-GM cars parked in the parking lot on a regular basis.
At one time the plant was thinking about not permitting these cars on the property. Instead they decided to tag the vehicles with a suggestion to buy GM and named the local dealers.
That didn’t go over well. Some employees didn’t care about GM. They were just there for the money. They stole parts, cheated on their time cards, drank to extremes, sold and did drugs. There’s a book out called “Been There” which tells a lot of what happens in an assembly plant. These true events will give you something to think about.

Don Montie • Northport

Purge the czars
What is it with the current Obama administration that makes me question whether they have the best interest of the United States at heart, or whether they wish to grab as much power as the opportunities allow them?
With all the new “czar” appointments of late, one might conclude they have a strange fascination and appreciation for the prior Russian empire. Perhaps it’s just me and that’s what the citizens want. I doubt it though, and I believe many are downright scared of the ongoing power grabs.
They should be. A lot of damage is being done. A lot more has been proposed. I don’t admire any “czar,” foreign or American-born. Wake up and voice your concern loudly to your representatives and friends.

Brian D. Spencer • TC

We are being betrayed
Yup! That’s it in a nut shell.. no, perhaps I should say in a light bulb! I voted to elect intelligent, knowledgeable individuals, who would represent my needs as a U.S. citizen, a mom, a small business person, and loving wife. Is this happening? NO! I can see by what I have read that our Congress is going the way of oppressive big business with bucks to bend logic, thought, heart, integrity and loyalty to their constituencies.
The current Energy Bill courageously initiated by President Obama and allegedly touted by his smiling, two-faced Congressional followers, is being gutted, renamed, and basically tossed into the abyss of a trash can, to allow the oil and coal industry to keep on, keeping on.
According to an Associated Press article titled “Congress abandoning Obama clean energy goals,“ the current bill they are playing with won’t require any boost in clean energy than is already part of a horrid Bush Energy Bill. Even more appalling this bill will repeal parts of the Clean Air Act, preventing Obama from cracking down on dirty power plants! I stand in disbelief that this is even happening!
Obama’s Energy bill would create good jobs to rebuild our failing environment, and our economy both locally and nationally. This new version won’t require more clean energy than we are currently working with. The prospects of creating new wind and solar energy sources would create more than twice as many jobs as filthy, polluting coal and oil.
If you really care about the future of your children and grand children’s lungs and physical well being... then call your Congressional representatives to put an immediate kibosh to this slanted and biased bill for the oil and coal industry and tell them you are watching them, their voting records, and their so-called financial gifts.

Linda Beers Aydlott • East Jordan


Promoting free speech
I just want to thank the Northern Express for allowing the writers of “Letters to the Editors” to actually express their views. Unlike the Record-Eagle, our letters are not picked apart, our opinions not challenged, and we don’t have to feel as if we are writing a blue book essay, including footnotes and an acknowledgement section. They state the section is “Your Views,” however it is your view only if you’ve satisfied them.
I’ve been writing letters to many publications over the years, (the R-E for 10) however what is currently being practiced at the R-E is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. One shouldn’t have to validate their opinion in order to get an opinion letter published. Thank you Northern Express for allowing freedom of speech.

Michele Lonoconus • Thompsonville

Thank you Michele, although it‘s worth noting that the Express also edits and shortens letters, to the irritation of some writers. -- Ed.

 
Monday, June 22, 2009

Letters 6/22/09

Letters Attack on Michigan voters
Michigan residents should be aware that seven Republican state senators
led by Sen. Wayne Kuipers have introduced Senate bills 616, 617, & 618
which if any one of them were to pass, would kill what almost 64 percent
of the voters in all 83 counties approved last November: protection for
medical marijuana patients.
While I see this as nothing more than grandstanding on Sen. Kuipers‘ part
(he is running for U.S. House next year and Pharm is one of his biggest
contributors), it‘s a slap in the face to everyone of us that voted yes.
What an insult and what a bunch of sore losers!
I am also getting horror stories out of the U.P. from legit patients who
have been busted by a swat team called UPSET (Upper Peninsula Straits
Enforcement Team). Guns put to the head of a 61-year-old mom and a
17-year-old daughter by men dressed in black with ski-masks on, a
16-year-old daughter felt-up by a male officer putting his hands under her
bra, and a statement made by an officer while shoving his knee into the
back of a patient who had back surgery: ”Bet you need your medical
marijuana now motherf#%ker.” When contacted about these atrocities, the
gentleman on the phone stated: “We don’t give a f#%k what kind of laws are
made below the bridge cause we live by a different set of laws up here!”
Even if these weren’t legit patients, is this how we want nonviolent
human-beings to be treated? These are swat teams gone wild and it’s time
to pull the plug on them!
In California, AB 390 has been introduced to completely legalize and tax
cannabis there and the governor has stated that he will sign it if it
crosses his desk.
Yet as long as we have political leaders like these seven state senators
who only represent themselves and their largest donors, it won’t happen in
Michigan. Remember this when you cast your votes next year. Let your reps
know now how you feel about this.

Rev. Steven B. Thompson, Executive Director, Michigan NORML


Safety saves boater lives
The boating season on Mullet Lake had a tragic beginning. A young couple
lost their lives and for three young children, their parents. A person
heard voices on the lake but thought they came from some people having
fun. But could she have done something? Would a neighbor in his boat have
gotten there in time? We will never know, nor will we know what happened.
I have rowed and kayaked our lakes for years and can well understand the
lure of floating far from shore, alone, and immersed in the serenity of
the beauty around me. Yes, I took my chances but I also took some
precautions:
I had learned self-rescue and practiced it repeatedly. I carried a paddle
float. It is surprising how high the freeboard even of a small boat
appears when you are swimming in the water. If you try to pull yourself up
you have nothing to stand on and the boat tilts toward you.
A paddle float is an inflatable sleeve you put over the end of your
paddle in the water, blow it up, and it provides you with a resistance
against which you can push with your feet to help throw yourself over or
into your small boat.
I carried a whistle. Its shrill sound will carry across the water better
than your voice and no one will mistake it for fun. I also think we
should re-introduce the old distress signal of SOS, three short, three
long, and three short in Morse code. During the Second World War the
distress signal of “Mayday” was introduced. Well, you cannot blow this on
a whistle.
Essential, particularly at the beginning and the end of the season, is a
wetsuit, at least as long as the water temperature is in the 50s. It not
only prolongs your time in the water before the onset of hypothermia, it
also helps to float. Also, even a little alcohol becomes a problem as it
opens the blood vessels of your skin and accelerates heat loss and with it
hypothermia.
I would be interested in a comment by our water sheriff and by the Coast
Guard. Should there be safety classes for small boaters? By volunteer
groups? What about re-introducing SOS? Many people are not familiar with
it any longer.

Klaus Hergt, MD • Cheboygan

 
Monday, June 22, 2009

Live from Africa?Photographer captures life in the Holler

Features Live from Africa
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars 6/22/09
Scarred by the wounds of war, but not broken, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars are on a triumphant tour of America in support of a documentary film on the band, whose roots are set in the civil war of the west African country.
The film, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars will have a free showing at the State Theatre in Traverse City on Monday, June 22 at 10 a.m., with the band performing at the City Opera House on Wednesday, June 24 at 6:30 p.m. (Tickets $22 advance, $25 door.)
 
Monday, June 15, 2009

Letters 6/15/09

Letters Headed for disaster
To the guy in the June 8 Express who believes in banning smoking in the restaurants and bars of Traverse City and across Michigan: I believe to each their own!
Like Michigan is not suffering enough with the economy crumbling. I smoke and I lived in Arizona when the ban on smoking in restaurants took place about two years ago and the local businesses in Arizona took a hit. Bad!
I was a bartender and server and I noticed a decline in sales, my tips and regular customers (who never came back!) Believe me, banning smoking is a stupid idea!
Local businesses already have a say as to whether they are smoke free or not. I respect any place that is non-smoking (and I am a smoker -- I do not even smoke in my own home). Respect our right to smoke if the business allows it because we pay a way high tax anyway. And to top it all off there are already bars and restaurants that have non-smoking sections, or no smoking allowed at all.
That‘s fine but I believe we the people are entitled to freedom of choice. Let the local businesses decide. If you do not like the smoke then find a bar/restaurant that is already smoke-free.
Kristina Moen • TC

Cartoonist Derf takes a hit
As some of you may recall, I had a little tangle with cancer six years ago. I’m still cancer-free, but the fraking radiation treatments damaged my heart. I’m scheduled for open heart surgery this week. The prognosis is good for a full recovery, but the first few weeks will be tough.
The City strip will go on. I didn’t miss a deadline during chemo, and I won’t miss one now. Sorry. this all came as a bolt out of the blue, and I’m already stuck in the hospital, with no computer and no Internet. It’s torture! I’m writing this... sob... by hand! Like a 12th century monk.
See you all once I pass through the Cleveland Clinic’s digestive tract.

Derf • Cleveland

Missed the irony
In reading this letter from William Heil, the only thing I could agree on was his first sentence, “Thank heaven for the National Rifle Association! .. the vigilant guardians of our Second Amendment Rights.”
I’m not sure what woodwork this guy came out of but he obviously doesn’t speak for all NRA members; in fact, I would guess very few. I can’t believe he would have the audacity to think that he is a good representative of the NRA.
In short, he represents the kind of person that is responsible for giving the NRA a bad reputation.
I am a lifetime member of the NRA and an avid shooter and hunter. I do feel that guns should be allowed in our national parks if they are carried by responsible citizens with a license to carry in that state.

Daniel Link • Cedar

Support the home team
I hope Michiganders who have purchased and drive foreign cars and trucks will reconsider as GM and Chrysler come out of chapter 11. Now you know that your purchase decision helped put GM and Chrysler into their current situation.
It‘s amazing to me how active and retired state employees, teachers, blue collar, white collar and yes, even UAW members, did not consider their families, neighborhoods, local dealerships, and even our great state of Michigan, only to save a few bucks, and buy the competition. How many of us have enjoyed a great Michigan life, sent our kids to college, vacationed at great state parks, and moved into the middle to upper middle class because of our state‘s automotive industry and supply base?
Equal employment opportunity started with the Big Three. And when you listen to NPR (don’t we all?) you will hear of support from the Ford foundation, but Toyota and Honda are missing!
We have a second chance; this time there are no excuses. Check it out: American quality, fuel mileage, new technology, performance, excitement and reliability are better than competitive. If you‘re tired of a broken state budget, lower house values, foreclosed neighborhoods, closed small town dealerships, layoffs and suffering local businesses, make your next purchase a GM/Chrysler/Ford vehicle, designed and assembled in Michigan or at least in our midwest region.
If we don’t support the home team and help ourselves, we really don’t deserve help from anyone else!

Adrian DenHaan • Beulah

TC pool a good facility
The past few weeks I have noticed a number of very negative articles in the daily newspaper regarding the Easling Pool at the Civic Center in Traverse City.
This is just wrong. The pool is a great place to swim for lap swimmers and for families during open swim. I have used other pools in my travels around the country some brand new others not so new. The Easling Pool is a good facility, considering its age. I have an annual membership and it is a great bargain. The $3 daily use charge is also a bargain.

Dave Anderson • TC

Red Wings predictions
I am writing in response to your article about the Detroit Red Wings on June 1. There are a few things in the article that I disagree with.
First, Lidstrom will never play for another team in the NHL ever. He will be the Red Wings captain until the day he retires, and I would not be surprised to see number 5 hanging from the rafters soon after his retirement. Second, Ozzie is not going anywhere soon either. In January 2008 he signed a three-year extension to his contract, worth an estimated $1.5 million per year. So even if the original contract was up at the end of last season, that still gives him another two in Detroit.
As for Marian Hossa, he has publicly stated on more than one occasion that he wants a long term deal, so that he can finish his career with one team. He has also said that he wants that team to be Detroit, and will again take a pay cut if Kenny Holland can make it happen. With the Franzen signing, it’s not looking like a good possibility, but never say never to Mr. Holland.
Chris Chelios says he wants to continue to play, and realizes that as the Wings bring in a defense man like Erickson and Meech, his play time will dwindle further than it did this season. Because of that he has also said he realizes that if he wants to play, it will more than likely not be in Detroit.
And the clutch playoff guys who are Maltby and Drapper, I doubt they are going anywhere either. They have been in Detroit for most of their careers, because no one else wanted them. Who doesn’t love the $1 pick-up story?! All those guys do is work as hard as possible, and because of that, they have been a huge part of all of the Wings Cup wins since 1997. I think that they too will finish their careers in Detroit, for whatever the Wings will pay, no matter how much money they could get elsewhere.
That’s the funny thing about the Red Wings. They are the model team in all of sports, not just hockey. Guys will take pay cuts to come to, or stay in Detroit. Or if you’re Steve Yzerman, you take a pay cut in the middle of your contact term so the team has more money to bring on other stars, like Bret Hull. And Mr. and Mrs. Illich take care of the all of the Wings, including the players, staff, and all of their families, past and present.
Go Wings!

Eric Mac Intyre • via email





 
Monday, June 15, 2009

Go the distance

Features Go the distance
6/15/09
There’s no shortage of races on the scene in Northern Michigan this summer. Below is a list of the lineup of triathlons, road races and cycle events taking place across the region:
 
Monday, June 8, 2009

Letters 6/08/09

Letters
A wake-up call
I was just reading your article on kleptomania, and think I could be of some help.
I used to have a problem with kleptomania when I was younger. Starting at the age of 11, I started stealing at my grandma’s house in Texas and kept right on stealing.
I’d take everything—a shiny hubcap, a key chain, pencil, gum, movies, video games, toys, anything. I broke into people’s homes. A lot of people do it for the rush, and that’s what I had. I didn’t realize it when I was doing it, and then I’d get home and wonder where I got all the stuff.
Most of the time, I did not get caught, but I had to go to jail more than once. The last time I was in jail was eight years ago, and it was a wake-up call. The judge said he’d send me to prison if I didn’t stop what I was doing.
I was 30 and I got down on my hands and knees and broke down crying and asked God to help me.
God works in mysterious ways. People say there’s so no such thing as God, but he’s the higher power, and he has magic. A lot of people don’t believe in that, but I had a spiritual awakening.
I changed everything -- my hair, my attitude, and especially my friends. I stopped drinking. You just gotta’ have hope for the best. Just get help. For me, it was the grace of God. He works in mysterious ways.
Now I just keep busy to keep myself occupied. I’ve got kids, and they keep me busy, which helps me overcome my craving.
You have to substitute different things like hobbies or reading books. I spend time with my family and gardening. I love to mountain bike, hike, and anything in the great outdoors. And I do anything I can to help the community.
Once in awhile I see kids at the mall thinking they are gangsters, and I tell them, I wouldn’t go down that road; I used to get in a lot of trouble. Now I respect everyone. Some will listen, some won’t, but there’s no turning back. Once I almost got shot after I broke into someone’s house; if it wasn’t for them turning on the light and seeing who I was, they would have shot me.
My grandma has since passed away. I never had the chance to tell her I was sorry or I loved her before she died. But I do try to help people out who have no money or no friends. A lot of times when you have a problem, people don’t want to help you. They judge you instead of hearing you out.
If you steal, remember there are consequences for everything. You’re not only hurting people, you’re hurting yourself. Once you get out of stealing and get help for yourself, you’ll get a big weight off your conscience and you don’t have to keep looking over your shoulder anymore. You’re never too old or too young to learn.

J. Reyna • TC

Misguided legislature
With unemployment at 13 percent and predicted to reach 17 to 19 percent by year’s end, Michigan continues to lead the nation as a complete macro-economic failure. The last 10 years can be termed Michigan’s “lost decade” because, unlike other states, we have experienced no economic growth. Unfortunately, Lansing politicians are completely focused on a top-down model of governing.
This past week is a perfect example of Lansing politicians continuing to do more harm than good. The Michigan House of Representatives trampled on private property rights, individual liberty and economic prosperity by voting to ban smoking in bars and restaurants. The last I checked, smoking tobacco was a legal activity, and with recent voter approval smoking marijuana for medical reasons is now legal in Michigan.
As the father of four children with moderate to severe asthma, I take my duty to protect my kids seriously and am very cognizant of where I take my family to dine out. However, I am also fully aware of Michigan’s dire economic climate. This proposal is estimated to cost at least 7,500 jobs, limit a legal activity, and impede on private property owners’ ability to make decisions. More than 5,600 Michigan bars and restaurants have chosen to go smoke-free. These job-providing, private property owners made the choice that smoke-free was the right decision for their establishment.
Central control from a Lansing bureaucracy that determines winners and losers is not the basis for a free society. Central control is the basis for a nanny state where citizens are prevented from making their own decisions. The legislation that passed the state House defines smoking as an activity that is only acceptable in Detroit casinos, Indian casinos and cigar bars. This places every other venue near these locations at a distinct competitive disadvantage.
Americans For Prosperity–Michigan urges the state Senate to stand up for liberty, property rights and economic prosperity. We certainly do not need politicians in Lansing engaging in nanny state politics while our economy continues to sink.

Scott Hagerstrom • Michigan director of Americans for Prosperity
 
Monday, June 1, 2009

Letters 6/1/09

Letters Guns in our parks
Thank heaven for the National Rifle Association! The vigilant guardians of our Second Amendment rights, with their gentle persuasiveness, have impelled both houses of Congress to attach an amendment to the Credit Card Reform Act, giving those of us duly licensed to carry guns the right to do so in our National Parks. This will give us who cherish those parks a renewed sense of serenity during our visits.
I’ve been visiting those parks for nigh on to 50 years now. Those visits were always accompanied by a vague sense of disquiet, as I couldn’t bring my Glock 9mm with me. But now, the Park Ranger who tells me and my buddies to quiet down around the campfire while we hoist a few tall ones and share stories and laughs will have to mind his manners. No longer will we have to accede to his wishes so obsequiously. Giving him a glimpse of that semi-automatic strapped to my thigh will discourage his temerity.
And on those occasions when I have my grandchildren with me at a campsite, I’ll be able to defend them from the predations of any rabid chipmunk who noses around our larder. If Yogi Bear comes roaming around looking for our picnic basket, he’ll wind up eating hot lead. And in the park restaurants, when I tell permissive parents to get their squalling brats to shut up so we can eat in peace, they’ll be a lot less likely to remonstrate with me once they see that I’m packing.
Thanks to the NRA for once again demonstrating who really calls the shots in our democracy!

William Heil • Petoskey

Public safety & pot
As a retired Bath Township (near Lansing) police detective, I can only add one other element to the excellent analysis of Robert Downes and the issue of marijuana prohibition; namely how public safety would be improved by implementing a system of legal, regulated and taxed marijuana sales.
As my colleagues stop chasing kids & spending tens of thousands of hours looking for the baggie of pot under a front seat, DUI arrests will go up and drunk driving related accidents will go down. Detectives will have more time to seek and arrest more rapists and those who possess child pornography.
Marijuana prohibition reduces public safety period. If one day you have a drug problem, see a doctor not a judge.

Officer Howard Wooldridge (retired)
Education Specialist, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Washington, DC
 
Monday, May 25, 2009

Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton

Books Special Forces Ride to Victory in
Horse Soldiers
HORSE SOLDIERS: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan
By Doug Stanton
Scribner 5/25/09
Illustrated. 393 pp. $28

Author Doug Stanton’s first book In Harm’s Way enjoyed nine months on the New York Times Bestseller List back in 2001, including several weeks in the Top 10. His second book Horse Soldiers, a dramatic tale of a small number of Special Forces soldiers who entered Afghanistan shortly after 9/11 and eventually defeated the Taliban while riding on horseback, is expected to hit number 10 on the New York Times list this week.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read Stanton’s work over the years in a variety of publications including Esquire, Outside, Sports Afield and Men’s Journal, where he is currently a contributing editor, that he would follow up In Harm’s Way with another bestseller.
Stanton has a keenness to go beyond the surface of the obvious by using his journalistic instincts to get to what actually drives a story. In the case of Horse Soldiers he could have easily found himself caught up in the policies of the Clinton and Bush administrations on Afghanistan and distracted the reader by going into great detail as to how these soldiers ended up from a policy perspective in Afghanistan in the first place. Instead Stanton delves into what happened on the “war field,” not in the “war room.”
Too often battles and wars are reported or written from the perspective of those creating the strategies and the policies and not by those who carry them out. Stanton received unprecedented access to a group of Special Forces soldiers, whose modus operandi is to blend in versus seek the spotlight. He made the most of his access and as a result he takes readers right to the battlefield and into the minds and moments of this extraordinary group of human beings.
 
Monday, May 25, 2009

Letters 5/25/09

Letters The war racket
Memorial Day is a very sad day for me. I’m a military veteran (Army infantry, Vietnam) and as I get farther down the path, my grasp of life and humanity increases.
We are all on this planet together and we are all related. The Golden Rule applies to everyone. “They” are not the “enemy.” The “leaders” tell us that if we (the working class) send our children to kill all of “them,” then we will be safe and our children who die or are physically and/or mentally wounded are heroes. The words of the “leaders” are hollow. They sell fear and we buy and become the pawns.
Two-time Medal of Honor recipient Marine Major General Smedley Butler said “War is a racket.” I agree. Weapons are America‘s #1 export product. To keep our weapons industry going we promote conflicts and wars. We have over 700 military bases in over 140 countries. Our military is the largest violence educational institution in the world.
On this Memorial Day think about the death and destruction that is being perpetrated in our name all over the world. It’s not about freedom or democracy, it’s about profit. It’s for “U.S. interests.” As I read about Memorial Day events I get sad. I suspect many of the people who attend are thinking like pawns.

Arnold Stieber • Grass Lake
Eye of the beholder...
A question for Ted Rall (re: “Oprah‘s Book Snub,“ 5/18): Would he disregard Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon as art because it doesn’t follow the conventional image of a woman? Why should Cormac McCarthy’s The Road be exempt from “good book” status because it doesn’t meet Rall’s definition?
While I completely agree that the New York Times Bestsellers List, Oprah’s Book Club and other such standard-setters shouldn’t be credited as finding the best literature of our time (can we say Twilight?), I do believe that the reason we all read what we do is a matter of personal preference, be it escapism fiction to (cough-boring-cough) U.S foreign relation tomes.
And Ted, “bad and dishonest writers” are as much to blame for the books floating around in the market pond as the publishers, reviewers and consumers. After all, we couldn’t be accused of reading the crap if it were never written to begin with.

Kristy Phillips • Interlochen
 
Monday, May 18, 2009

Letters 5/18/09

Letters Troopers in trouble
I am writing as a very concerned citizen and also a wife of a Michigan State Trooper. This is the second time that my husband, a trooper now of nearly five years, has been on the layoff list. Again I find myself scrambling to get information out to the public and try to save not only my husband’s job, but also the jobs of 100 State Troopers who are desperately needed in this state.
I know people are aware of the layoffs, but I wonder if they really know the reasons why. The State just paid $8 million to run a recruit school to beef up the Michigan State Police patrolling troopers. That precious tax money was spent on highly skilled and trained recruits who will now be forced to look for jobs, most likely outside of the state.
The State of Michigan is not only losing potential income through police work, ticketing and protection, but also losing a priceless number of mature, experienced and elite senior troopers. Furthermore, laying off 100 troopers for the rest of the year is only set to save the state $1.7 million.
Heavily publicized is the closure of the Detroit crime lab, which was closed after an audit showed that weapons ballistics tests were erroneous in 10 percent of 200 criminal cases. Put simply, the Detroit crime lab was closed due to incompetence. In reaction, the case loads were given to the Michigan State Police crime lab. This has cost the State Police an estimated $7 million, none of which has been reimbursed. This has directly placed a strain on an already tight budget and further endangered positions of much-needed patrolling officers.
All over Michigan, local communities are struggling with their own budgets. Police at the local level are on the chopping block. The State Police do not routinely patrol areas that are already contracted by local departments. That story changes when communities no longer have the money to fund local police. When this happens, the state police are asked to step in and start patrolling to keep communities safe.
Recently, state troopers have been asked to beef up patrols in cities like Pontiac, Flint, Muskegon, and Benton Harbor. If the state government is also cutting their support, local police departments are losing their back-up plan. That puts a strain on not just the State Police, but the whole police force in Michigan.
By cutting members of the State Police, Michigan‘s government is sending a direct message to taxpayers that: “We can no longer afford to guarantee your safety.”
On the flip side, Michigan has already let a total of 3,000 felons free and has closed prisons. This is a huge contradiction. The state government is saying it can no longer afford to house criminals, no longer afford to catch criminals, but still public safety is at the top of its concerns.
I do not envy the Governor’s position to try to balance the budget. I proudly live in the state of Michigan and have directly felt the squeeze this recession has put on everyone.
I work in a veterinary hospital. Every day I see people who cannot afford to treat their animals’ illness opt for euthanasia because it’s all they can afford. The last thing the people of Michigan need right now is a slap in the face by taking away police protection that they have paid for. The people of Michigan need some inspiration: that even though the economy is tight and morale is down, the Michigan government still cares enough to keep them safe.
Jessica Vandercook via email
A new direction
Your article about candidate Rick Snyder taking the GOP in a new direction is long overdue for the Republicans.
I left ship completely after 9/11‘s follow-up of war, secrecy, lies, fear-mongering, and complete moral hypocrisy. Republicans claim to be moral; however, their actions speak louder than words with the easily-justified taking of human life while claiming to have strong abortion controls. Their sweetheart deals benefit themselves only with contempt to those in need, completely ignoring laws when they go against their against agenda.
The new GOP -- if there ever is one -- should have real morals and convictions, not just organizing under false claims, quibbling, and opposite actions to their opponents. If they can only be real again and not hypocrites of the past -- a good example of this being Rush Limbaugh.
I can’t stand the sellout, hypocritical, lying, secretive, thieving, corrupt, warmongering, immoral Republicans of the Bush era leading us anymore in the future, but will listen to those who stand by their convictions and have plans to help like Ron Paul. The rest of the party can close up shop; I can’t listen anymore to their bullshit that doesn’t serve anyone but them and the big money which pays them off.

Bradford Krull • via email

Staying informed
Thank you for your article on Bay Harbor. I live in Charlevoix and grew up in Petoskey, so I am very worried about the contamination at Bay Harbor. Thank you for keeping us informed on what is going on, I just wish our local papers did the same.
I read and look forward to your paper every week, just keep up the good job.

Gary Goke • via email

Sweet music for Detroit
I have always been a faithful Northern Express reader, and wanted to let you know I LOVED your idea about making Detroit a world-class music district (re: Random Thoughts, 5/11).
I forwarded it to Mitch Albom at WJR. With his efforts to move Detroit forward, he may just be the person to pitch such an idea! It could be a reality, and would be wonderful to restore Detroit to the city I remember and loved as a child of the ‘60s!

Lynne Maher • Ann Arbor

Cultural racism
In response to your recently printed piece from Chuck Shepherd’s News of the Weird lead story with (your?) headline, “Goblins of Iceland,“ I urge you to print the following link from New York Magazine in rebuttal of his sources which he further grossly took out-of-context, for the benefit of your readers in obtaining the actual facts:
http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2009/03/reality_check_vanity_fairs_fis.html
The kind of exploitive reporting in Mr. Shepherd’s piece under the guise of journalism does nothing more than further fuel cultural racism, and as we all know, racism and overall stereotyping is never justified.
Thank you for your help setting the record straight.

Janese Horton • TC

(Well if it‘s true that Icelanders don‘t really believe in goblins, the next thing you know, New York Magazine will claim that the Irish don‘t really believe in leprechauns and the English don‘t believe in fairies. -- ed.)



 
Monday, May 11, 2009

Letters 5/11/09

Letters Tests show clean bill
of health at Bay Harbor
I read the recent story concerning claims of historical waste dumping at the former Penn Dixie Cement Plant site that has been reclaimed and turned into the Bay Harbor resort and two public parks.
Below is another perspective on the claims made in the article and the facts as we know them.
It does appear that a meeting and follow up interviews were conducted with local individuals by the U.S. Coast Guard. CMS Land was not invited to the meeting and any information gathered from the meeting and interviews was not shared with CMS.
CMS Land has however, seen parts of the report that was obtained by the Friends of the Jordan River Watershed Council. Despite the numerous claims made in the article of barrels of waste being buried at the site, the sections of the Coast Guard report that we were able to view concluded, “No additional investigative action to be pursued in this matter. This preliminary investigation is closed.”
The cement plant and quarry that once occupied the site were in operation for more than 100 years. CMS Land simply does not know all actions that may have been taken on this site over the past 100 plus years.
What we know for sure is that CMS Land has taken more than 1,300 soil, groundwater and surface water samples, has installed 340 groundwater monitoring wells, and completed an extensive geophysical investigation of the site. Despite this extensive scientific study, barrels containing toxic waste have not been discovered.
Another fact is that despite tests conducted over the course of several years that never demonstrated any contamination from cement dust in Bay Harbor Lake, several organizations, including individuals critical of the remediation project, conducted another test of the lake in 2006.
The test included water samples and EPA divers surveying the lake below the water surface. The lake once again was given a clean bill of health.
The story stated that CMS Land has blocked the efforts of plaintiffs in a lawsuit to take samples from the site. Regulatory agencies and judges presiding over the disposal well lawsuit have heard numerous legal pleadings, requests and desires and have determined what is appropriate and established specific requirements concerning the lawsuit. CMS is fully honoring those requirements and expects others to do the same. In fact, plaintiffs in that suit have been on site to take water samples within the past month.
Environmental and reclamation plans were developed, reviewed and approved by state regulators and the Bay Harbor development and two public parks were reclaimed from an abandoned brownfield site that had been described as a “moonscape.” Today, this once unproductive land – where contamination was open to the elements and escaped unabated – has been transformed into a world class resort that draws visitors from around the world and is an important economic contributor to Northwest Michigan.
We believe there is much to be proud of at the project. In addition to the important economic impact of the site, the original development significantly improved the environment and CMS Land is now improving upon that protection. CMS Land has worked for more than three years and spent more than $80 million addressing environmental issues at the site.
CMS remains committed to completing remediation work and achieving results that safeguard the public and environment.

Timothy Petrosky • Area Manager • CMS Land Company

Dog responsibility
In response to Michele Lonoconus’ letter regarding Obama’s choice to obtain a dog from a breeder as opposed to adopting, I agree we should be looking in our own backyard and focusing on adopting dogs. However, we need to eliminate the reasons many dogs are in need of rescue in the first place!
If everyone bought from a responsible breeder, or adopted a dog (whose temperament matched the prospective owner), there wouldn’t be thousands of dogs in shelters.
Unfortunately, we have many “backyard breeders” and accidental breedings. The problems with obtaining dogs from these kinds of situations are: 1. Lack of genetic screening; 2. Sellers don’t take back the puppy/dog if the owner can’t keep it; 3. Buyers are not screened or advised on responsible dog care; 4. Sellers don’t require spaying/neutering.
Improper breeding often leads to hyper, hard-to-train, and possibly genetically-unsound dogs. Only knowledgeable, experienced people should be breeders to prevent over-population and unwanted litters of puppies.
I cannot stress enough the importance of prospective buyers understanding that acquiring a dog is a lifetime commitment. It is critical that the buyer understands the temperament of the breed to ensure that it matches the owner’s lifestyle. A sedentary type person shouldn’t have an active breed, or someone with small children shouldn’t have a feisty terrier.
Owners need to understand the importance of early socialization and training (critical periods are prior to age 16 weeks). However, training at any age is important to ensure a well-behaved dog.
Reputable breeders understand these critical points and guide prospective owners. They CARE about the well being of the puppy... they ask YOU questions. They specify the type of care needed and will take the puppy back at any time if the buyer cannot keep it.

Diane Russell • via email
 
 
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