Letters 10-20-2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, 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
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
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
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

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:
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
Monday, May 4, 2009

Letters 5/4/09

Letters Outsourcing local jobs
As a resident of Traverse City, and a proponent for supporting our great state of Michigan, I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the fact that local government boards are allowing the outsourcing of jobs that belong in Michigan.
Recently, the company where my daughter is employed lost a long-standing contract to a large business in Atlanta, Georgia for the processing of the light and power bills from the City of Traverse City. Her business had been producing these for many years without ever an increase in cost for the city.
Now, by accident, she has found out that they will no longer be doing these mailings – they are going to be sent to Georgia.
In Governor Jennifer M. Granholm’s State of the State Address on February 3, she issued an order creating a preference for Michigan firms and will be requiring other units of government in Michigan, including cities, townships, counties and school districts to adopt a “Buy Michigan First” policy. She said, “Support Michigan. Select Michigan. Buy Michigan. Everything from Ford to Faygo... our first love is businesses that have long called Michigan home.”
When will our government practice what they preach? I am a father who would not be a good father if I didn’t follow through on my words. But I am a good father, and am worried about not only my child’s employment but of the rest of Michigan, the rest of America.
I believe in supporting Michigan, selecting Michigan, buying Michigan and think it is time that everyone who lives and works here, including our local government bodies believes and act it too.

Vince Rice • TC

Clueless Camp
Congressman Camp sent an e-mail recently stating that “Americans are feeling the pinch in their own budgets,“ and the President and Congress are spending “your tax dollars in unprecedented amounts.“
Absurdly, Congressman Camp doesn’t mention the trillions President Bush spent on a trumped-up Iraq War. Nor does he hint that the mortgage debacle resulted from a laissez-faire Bush Administration that looked the other way when big banks played blackjack with investors’ dollars, that taxed the middle class unfairly while the upper half-percent paid little, and that broke the back of our economy.
Now he’s worried the government’s spending too much? Please. Congressman Camp consistently supported President Bush, and the Republican Congress that got us into this mess. Let’s give President Obama credit. His Recovery Act has created or saved more than 109,000 Michigan jobs. Michigan workers have received $3,726,000 under the Making Work Pay Tax Credit. And the American Opportunity Tax Credit has aided more than 121,000 Michigan students.
It took eight years to dig Bush’s money pit. President Obama has been in office less than four months. Let’s think about how we vote in the future and put an able person in Congress. Leave Dave Camp where he’s been all along -- in Congruous.

Mary Eliowitz • Maple City

GM vs. foreign car makers
As Michigan’s unemployment numbers go up and our economy sinks farther and farther, it’s important to look at some hard facts that are contributing to it. The Level Field Institute (levelfieldinstitute.org) compares the U.S. auto industry with foreign manufacturers and has come up with the following facts and figures.
• Direct employment: GM: 92,000 employees vs. foreign automakers: 95,000. Each one of these jobs supports more than nine other jobs in the surrounding community.
• U.S. Assembly plants: GM: 19 vs. foreign automakers: 17. Each plant employs about 2,000 workers, requires $1 billion or more in capital investment, and encourages suppliers to build their factories nearby. Question: how many foreign auto plants are there in Michigan? Answer-none!
• Model year domestic Content: GM: 75 percent. Foreign automakers: 33 percent. Auto parts suppliers are the largest employer in five states, and the top five employers in 11 other states.
• Buying one GM vehicle supports 78 jobs per car, including U.S. supplier based jobs, vs. 34 jobs per car that are supported by foreign car makers.
The above numbers, sobering as they are, don’t even take into account the 660,000 vehicles South Korea is allowed to export to the U.S. These vehicles offer not one manufacturing job or dollar to our economy, and in fact, cost the U.S. roughly 55,000 jobs.
So, the next time you are in the market for a new vehicle, consider this: would you rather purchase a home-grown company’s vehicle which directly supports Michigan? Or a foreign vehicle -- even one built in the U.S. -- that supports a foreign country, and/or a southern state?

Ben Lillie, GM retiree • Cheboygan

Religious scam
Turning on TV, I chanced to click on Franklin Graham’s broadcast. He is the son of Billy Graham and now CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
I was shocked to see on the screen in huge print the words “Jesus is coming soon. Are you ready?” Then Franklin said ‘This year’s theme for the broadcast is ‘Jesus is coming soon.‘” He continued, of course, to emphasize that he must have financial support so he can preach to the whole world, save souls and prepare his listeners to be ready to meet
Jesus in the air at the Rapture.
Does Franklin really believe this myth? I suppose so; millions of Christians do.
Nevertheless, he and other TV evangelists use it to create fear of going to hell, and giving false hope of going to heaven. They are taking full advantage of their listeners’ trust, to rake in the money for their religious show, and support for their own luxurious life style.
It all smacks of a scam.
What a pity that congregations are not taught to separate myth from historical facts in the Bible. How tragic that educated clergy do not make clear the difference, and help them to understand the value of symbols.
As a Christian liberal, I am not required to believe that the Bible is literally true in every word and sentence. I don’t have to teach such fundamentalist nonsense.

Rev. Harold R. Hodgson • Cadillac

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rock to the top

Music Rock to the Top
8 bands battle for the best at Leelanau Sands
The wait is over for dozens of rock bands that have competed for the title of “the best” over the past four months: This Saturday, May 2, eight finalists will duke it out at the Leelanau Sands Casino Showroom.
In addition to the scrutiny of a full house of fans, the contestants will face a panel of judges culled from the top of the music industry, including players from some of America’s superstar bands.
Competing bands have entered from all over the state, battling it out in a series of competitions since January, says Joey Callahan of Radius Recording in Traverse City, who organized the event. The winning band will take home $2,000 cash, as well as a recording deal at Callahan’s studio valued at $8,000. The winner will also open for Puddle of Mudd at the Leelanau Sands Showroom on June 27.
A former guitarist with the industrial metal group 13MG, Callahan has extensive ties to the music industry from his days touring and recording with the band, and also as a result of a music services and web design business he owned in Chicago, which had clients on par with John Mayer and Smashing Pumpkins.
Rock to the Top will include a set by David “Shred Demon” Shankle, one of metal’s’ top shredders, who vows to “rip your face off.” WKLT will sponsor and emcee the event, which runs form 8 p.m. to 1 am. Additionally, there will be a 3 p.m. seminar for musicians by Martin Atkins focusing on the fine points of touring, based on his bestselling book, “Tour Smart.” For details, check out http://www.myspace.com/rockyourwaytothetop.
Monday, April 27, 2009

Letters 4/27/09

Letters Organized crime in
the financial industry
Organized crime is nothing new but where it comes from is. This crime gang affects us all.
I am referring to the financial industry, lobbyists, and our own Congress in the fleecing of the citizens of this country. Not only have they gathered together to make rules and laws for their own benefit, they are also discriminating against the working class and poor of this country.
Their weapon is our credit scores and hidden fees. Once you fall into their trap they do their best to keep you there, stopping you from purchasing items that you need or would like, such as new or used cars. Or, if they grant you a loan, they punish you with an interest rate that keeps you down, which is discriminating as the value of your purchase is the same for someone with better credit.
Congress approved an interest ceiling last year of 30 percent, which is a crime in itself. If nothing is done by Congress to correct these travesties our only choice, other than an armed uprising, is to vote in third party candidates to break up the frat clubs in the next election.

James C. Williams • Kalkaska

Green gimmick
I read with interest the feature in Gear Box on eco-packaging. I love the idea of the carry strap on the shoe boxes.
The use of cloth bags at grocery stores? Great! At least that’s how I felt before I read the little sewn-in label on my “green“ bags: “Made In China.“
Now my bags are not so green anymore. The cost to the environment to manufacture and ship is not worth it. Why can’t they be made locally? Now that would be “green.”

Debra Tootla • TC

We need single payer
Universal single payer health care is the best way to get out of this devastating economic crisis. It would relieve the burden faced by big business, small business owners, self-employed, unemployed and under-employed individuals, families, children, and seniors.
We should cut costs and errors with electronic health records, cover pre-existing conditions, lower the cost of drugs, and bring down health care costs by encouraging wellness and prevention programs.
I believe Canada has the best model. Opponents talk about waiting lines, rationing, and the government making health decisions. U.S. insurance companies already ration health care based on how much you pay in premiums. They refuse treatment. They make you use their doctors. If you can‘t afford to pay, you die, plain and simple.
That is not health care, that is insurance company care. Universal health care opponents say the cost is too high. I don’t see anyone returning their Social Security checks or turning in their Medicare cards. Those programs work for the millions of Americans. I would rather pay higher taxes for the neighbor to be treated for that brain tumor, than spend the same amount to bomb innocent women and children in some far-away country creating generations of American enemies.
My biggest fear is private insurance companies will be subsidized for their already inadequate and overpriced policies, which would be an even bigger disaster. We need a government plan to provide affordable, high-quality health care for everyone!

Beverly Christensen
• Cedar

Monday, April 20, 2009

Interlochen announces

Music The Steve Miller Band, Willie Nelson and Styx top a lineup of more than 30 major performances planned at the Interlochen Center for the Arts this summer.  Interlochen’s season kicks off with Willie Nelson on June 7 and runs through Aug. 22, ending with a three-day guitar festival. In between, the season will feature everything from the arena rock of Styx to the violin and cello-infused indie sounds of Ra Ra Riot; from folk icon Joan Baez to the four-part country harmonies of Little Big Town.
The spoken word also gets its due with an appearance by comedienne Paula Poundstone. Look also for one of Shakespeare’s greatest hits with “The Taming of the Shrew.”
Here’s a peek at the season ahead:
WILLIE NELSON (June 7): The creative genius behind such recordings as “Crazy” and “Stardust,” Nelson’s career has spanned six decades and more than 200 albums
INDIGO GIRLS (June 23): offer two decades of roots-inspired music and infectious harmonies in hits such as “Closer to Fine,” “Hammer and Nail” and “Galileo.”  
“THE TAMING OF THE SHREW” (June 25-28 and July 2-5): Director William Church places this battle of the sexes in an early 1900s circus, with fiery-tongued Kate as a knife-thrower and Petruchio as a lion tamer. Interlochen faculty and alumni fill the roles of cast and crew.
CHERRYHOLMES (June 27): stormed to the top of the bluegrass world by winning the 2005 International Bluegrass Music Association’s “Entertainer of the Year” award.
PARSONS DANCE COMPANY (June 29): is renowned for its sexy athleticism, exuberant personality and joyous movement.
THE WALLFLOWERS (June 30), led by Jacob Dylan is on t
Monday, April 20, 2009

Letters 4/20/09

Letters Crisis management
If you have some extra money, it may be time to sidle up to the table and get yourself some assets. President Obama and others have said that the “profit ratios are now such that it may be time to invest.”
Hmmm! Back down that road again?
There are millions of properties that are now owned by banks, the government, and other lenders that can be snatched up at bargain basement prices. Stock values of financially sound companies are available at half the price of two years ago! Lay down the cash and walk away with some great homes, companies, and stocks. Or, if you can leverage one of your hedged futures, please do so. Now! You may not have to part with any of your cash or other assets and still pick up a whale of a deal on a foreclosed home or two!
Hmmmm! Have we so quickly forgotten where that road will lead us?
The sparkle can be seen in the eyes of those who will weather this “downturn” with excess cash left in their wallets or sufficient assets remaining to leverage credit. They know the game and are waiting patiently just outside the circle of light as the foreclosures, lost retirement funds, and folding small businesses burn down to ashes. If allowed to, the cyclical dynamo that propels additional wealth into the coffers of those who are already the most well-to-do, will work its magic once again, and again, and again.
Here is an outline that can help us to “make the best of this crisis” while at the same time heading down a road that may help us avoid such crises in the future:
• Create a single-payer universal health care system.
• Get rid of the health insurance industry.
• Re-employ insurance workers in a publicly run health care administration.
• Determine the present cost of health care without the insurance industry profits.
• Project the cost of health care for all people who live in the US of A.
• Re-work the pay structure for health care workers including doctors, nurses, technicians, etc., with negotiations resulting in a more equitable distribution of pay.
• Focus on achieving a healthy population through preventative care and education.
• Fund universal health care with a graduated monthly fee structure based roughly upon the asset ownership of individuals.
• Place banking services under public ownership.
• No longer charge interest on home mortgages or small business loans. Rather, add a fee to the loan principal at closing.
• No longer charge interest on credit card debt. Rather, add a surcharge to the principal at the time of each purchase.
Of course, there are many more ways that we could reduce the greed-driven functions of our economy while increasing the uplifting aspects of our “post crisis” existence. The way that we handle transportation, utilities, communications, energy, and natural resources are all areas that need re-evaluation along similar lines.

Dale S. Scott • Harbor Springs

All quiet on the left in TC
With a week in time passing since the serving of papers to the mayor of Traverse City and select commissioners, the local left has been very quiet on the subject.
I just checked out some of the local lefties haunts online and there was not one mention (excluding the Record-Eagle) of the lawsuit. Could it be the T.C. lefties don’t dare come out against George Galic at this point? Maybe because they know something? Or at the least have good reason to suspect he’s correct?
What if George Galic prevails and it is shown without a doubt that government business was conducted in the backroom? Would they defend conducting business behind the scene as the right way to operate government? No, they’ll remain quiet on this one. For now anyway. But that’s okay because “no (leftie) news is good news” as an indicator of George Galic‘s chances of prevailing.

Alex Peterson • TC