Letters

Letters 09-15-2014

Stop The Games On Campus

Four head coaches – two at U of M and two at MSU – get a total of $13 million of your taxpayer dollars each year. Their staffs get another $11 million...

The Truth About Fatbikes

While we appreciate the fatbike trail coverage, the quote from the article below is exactly what we demonstrated not to be true in most cases last season...

Man Has Environmental Responsibility

I tend to agree with Thomas Kachadurian (“Playing God,” Sept. 8) that we should not interfere with the power of nature by deciding what is “native” and what is not. Man usually does what is better for man (or so we believe), hence the survival and population growth of our species...

The Bush & Obama Facts

Don Turner’s letter to the editor on 8/25/14 stated that there has never been a more corrupt, dishonest, etc. set of politicians in the White House. He states no facts, but here are a few...

Ban Pesticides

I grew up downstate in a neighborhood without pesticides. I was always very healthy. Living here, I have become ill. So I did my research and found out a lot about these poison agents called pesticides (herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, chemical fertilizers, etc) that are being spread throughout this community, accumulating in our air, water and soil...

Respect for Presidents?

Recently we read the Letter to the Editor that encouraged us to stop characterizing President Obama as anything other than an upstanding, moral, inspiring “first Black President”. The author would have us think that the rancor in the press, media and public is misguided. And, believe it or not, this rancor is a “glaring exception to … unwritten patriotic rule” of historically supporting all previous presidents...


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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
 
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
4/27/09
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:
 
JUNE
 
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
 
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
 
Monday, April 13, 2009

Region Watch: Hollywood shines on Doug Stanton & The Horse Soldiers‘/ New parklands/ Better drug disposal

Region Watch Best-selling author Doug Stanton of Traverse City was in Hollywood’s spotlight last week.
Variety Magazine, a trade magazine of the entertainment industry, announced in a front-page story that Disney and uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer acquired the screen rights for his soon-to-be-published book, Horse Soldiers.
There was more good news.
An exclusive excerpt of his book will run in the upcoming May issue of Men’s Journal, which boasts a 3.5 million national circulation. Stanton is a contributing editor for the magazine.
Bruckheimer, who will produce the movie, is famous for high-action films such as Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Horse Soldiers gives him a lot of material to work with. The nearly 400-page book chronicles the journey of a handful of Special Forces, from the time they first hear about 9/11 on their living room TV sets to riding horses along skinny mountain trails in Afghanistan, The Americans gaze down black precipices as they ride side-by-side with three warlords and their troops (the Northern Alliance) to defeat the Taliban.
 
Monday, April 13, 2009

Letters 4/13/09

Letters Holding the line
Homeowners, neighborhoods and communities are best served when people are able to remain in their homes. Families across our state are struggling to do just that, and I want to make sure they have a fighting chance. That’s why I am working on measures to protect homeowners from property tax increases that are out of step with their home’s actual value.
Legislation I sponsored would make sure that a property’s taxable value doesn’t increase any faster than its assessed value. I also co-sponsored legislation to prevent homeowners from seeing their property taxes go up if the assessed value of their home goes down. In addition, homeowners whose tax assessments fall below the taxable value of their home would see the taxable value of their home also reduced. Both measures would need approval from voters in November.
It’s true these proposals will result in less revenue for government. But just like our hardworking families, government at every level must learn to tighten its belt and live within its means. Common sense and fairness says that if home values are falling, property taxes should not continue to rise. With families leaving our state in droves and those who remain struggling to stay in their homes, how can we justify collecting property taxes that are out of step with home values?
When I came to the Legislature in 1992, Michigan was hurting – property taxes were out of control and families were losing their homes. Today we find ourselves in similar distress, and I will not let government continue to rob our hardworking families. Bringing property taxes back in line with home values is a common sense approach that will help struggling families and communities throughout Michigan. Homeowners shouldn’t have to watch their property taxes climb while their home values drop. I am fighting to change that. I urge our House colleagues to join us in protecting Michigan families during these tough economic times.

Michelle A. McManus • State Senator, 35th District
Stop sexual assault
The Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan (WRC) joins the rest of the country in recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The WRC helps hundreds of individuals and families each year that have experienced this devastating crime of sexual violence at some point in their lives.
We now have an additional mission of primary prevention. This is taking action before any violence occurs to prevent an assault or victimization. Primary prevention seeks to change root causes of sexual violence; such as societal norms, attitudes and behaviors.
The responsibility for sexual violence prevention lies within each of us. Educate yourself and start conversations about the problem of sexual violence. Challenge those who use degrading language or actions. Intervene or get help if you see a friend or stranger grab or insult a woman. Do not support companies that use commercials or ads exploiting women, and explain to children, nieces, nephews, and others that this is not okay.
Help re-define what healthy masculinity looks like to end dangerous stereotypes. Mentor youth by modeling equality in relationships. Primary prevention helps create communities where we all have the right to feel safe in our relationships, homes, neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.
The WRC is a non-profit agency serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For more information, call the WRC 24-hour crisis and information line at (231) 347-0082 or
(800) 275-1995.

Carrie Sundstrom • Community Prevention Coordinator

 
Monday, April 6, 2009

Letters 4/6/09

Letters Stop the spending
Until the U.S. government can balance its checkbook it is time to stop the frivolous, wasteful, and seemingly endless spending.
What is the point of creating a budget if you cannot or do not plan to adhere to it? According to the 2006 U.S. census, the payroll of the U.S. government alone is a staggering $13,896,346,626 per month. There is a lot of fat that could be cut from that payroll which continues to grow with every new problem the country encounters. The attacks of 9/11 gave birth to a new branch of payroll in formation of the Homeland Security Office. Didn’t we already have homeland security through the National Guard?
I do not believe that the problem was not enough security, but instead a false sense of security that we allowed ourselves to be lulled into. Even if Homeland Security is a viable need for our national safety, there are plenty of other programs not necessary to the survival of the nation that should be terminated or put on hiatus, until such a day that we are once again in the black as a country.
One program that should be looked upon as fluff and should be discontinued, until we actually have the cash in hand to fund it, is the space program, which according to the 2006 census demands $150,593,571 per month just in payroll alone. This may not be a popular opinion, but our future is not in space, it is here on Earth, and even though I am interested in what is out there as much as anyone, we should concentrate on our current homeland.
Programs like the Blue Angels should be looked at for their entertainment value, and not as a necessity for national morale and recruiting. How about cancelling the Army, Navy football programs? That is what would happen if it was a public school that could not make the ends meet. It is time for the government to be more responsible and accountable with its spending, and if said government proposes a budget, approves the budget, then damn it, balance the budget!

Donald Robinson • Frankfort

Spending spree
It is becoming more clear every day that the President’s budget and stimulus package includes enormous spending for programs that while worthy of debate in their own right are masquerading as keys to reducing structural costs and providing the essential elements for economic recovery and prosperity. The country is in a serious economic recession and financial system crisis and the president is trying to smooth talk the people into believing that borrowing to spend unprecedented billions on health care, the environment, green energy , education and adding enormous cost to entitlement programs are indispensable components of a financial recovery plan. Items that are important but not urgent should not escape exhaustive debate and not be immune to the process of purging based on affordability.
Sorry Mr. President, but your strategy of throwing every pet social program onto the recovery wagon and calling it essential baggage is not selling to thoughtful Americans who know that spending beyond our means has consequences. When news pundits struggle to explain the enormity of the increase in national debt you advocate and when economists are forecasting dramatic damage to the dollar as the world’s standard for currency, and forecasting upward pressure on interest rates and inflation, the credibility of your assertions of future financial health is undermined beyond repair. Your spending spree is looking more and more like a cure that could end up being worse than the illness.

Dick Selvala • Cross Village
‘Best of’ feedback
It seems your fact checker, or the compiler of lists, is asleep at the wheel when it comes to servers and bartenders.
Kim has not been a server at Hanna for over a year. She currently manages at Siren Hall.
The bartender at Hanna (yours truly) was not even listed, and many of his regulars believe that he is the best in Traverse City.
So it goes.

Tony Berry • TC

Loved the “Best of” issue. But I suggest another category: Best Cop. I nominate State Trooper Blair DuVall of the Honor post. He lost his life to cancer last July. He was a gentleman and a gentle man.


Nutty ACORN scheme
ACORN was and continues to be contentious in regard to their roles in registering voters this just past election. I seem to recall individuals registering the same potential voters dozens and dozens of times in some cases, and investigations of this corruption being discussed in the many states in which it occurred. With that in mind, I’ve been expecting some announcements as to accountability of these illegal activities from the Justice Department and as to those who lead this organization.
With the latest stimulus package that President Obama has just announced and signed, I think I’ll stop holding my breath as to any in this organization being held accountable. Rather than that occurring as most might expect, just the opposite has been announced that carries a large price tag that will “benefit” this group. For those who might have missed being informed, ACORN is now receiving $5 billion of your hard earned tax payer dollars as part of this “stimulus” package for all the good deeds they do for us.
Can anybody explain the stimulus involved with rewarding those attempting to dismantle and destroy our one-man, one-vote democracy? Further, just what is it that our new President is attempting to stimulate? Seems like a reasonable question that all might ponder thinking about.

Brian Spencer • TC

Slow down
To the ignorant drivers that use our roads daily. I am sick and tired of you running “up my butt” when I have my turn signal on, which means I am turning either right or left! Got it? That means BACK OFF, SLOW DOWN, BE PREPARED TO STOP, use some common sense!
Homestead Road in Benzie County seems to be one of the worst! Evidently, drivers are not worried about the school zone. Maybe they have no kids attending Benzie Central. Maybe they don’t care that more and more kids are walking, or that the track team trains along this road.
I assume that those who drive this road don’t care about those who live on it because of how fast they go in front of the houses and because of the countless animals that have been hit year after year, both domestic pets and wildlife.
Oh well, I guess nothing will change until a person gets hit and dies. Then maybe someone will care, someone will slow down, someone will stop acting so uncaring.
I will tell you this: if any of our kids, grandchildren, animals/pets get hit by you, you will be sued for the maximum amount allowed. This is simply avoidable ignorance. Maybe you will care when you are the one affected by, or the cause of, an accident

Lisa Mai Shoemaker • Empire


 
Monday, April 6, 2009

Run for shelter/ Zoo-de-Mack/Get paddlin‘

Features Run for Shelter
Local runners can combine their love of racing with a good cause on Saturday, April 18 at 9 a.m., with the Run for Shelter to benefit the Goodwill Inn Homeless Shelter.
 
Monday, March 30, 2009

Letters 3/30/09

Letters Letters 3/30/09

Branded for life
I just want to thank the Northern Express for telling my son’s story (re: “Branded for Life,” 3/23). Countless lives are forever destroyed by these laws. It has been a crazy few years and I had nearly given up hope of anyone caring.
Special thanks to Anne Stanton for telling the real story. Her article will help the cause, and people have already contacted me with their stories. She went above and beyond for us and we are forever grateful to finally have our concerns validated.

Name withheld

Train to nowhere?
Great article on the proposed mag-lev train (re: Random Thoughts, 3.23). How do these proposals gain traction when there is no science to support them?
At Old Dominion University a demonstration project for two miles has failed after four years of trying a mag-lev train. The same company failed in Florida in a project that was supported by state and federal taxpayers. Is there any evidence of a successful mag-lev project in the U.S.? No.

D. Aussicker • via email


Stop this train wreck
We are at a crossroads. For the first time, the plan to haul toxic wastewater from Bay Harbor Resort and East Park to an underground well in Alba is off the table. We sincerely hope CMS Energy will stop this train wreck and spare themselves a great deal of grief and money.
The cleanup methods that CMS has so far installed do not solve the problem. They merely transfer them to a distant pristine location and pass responsibility for them along to future generations.
Before I get to a saner proposal, consider this question: How long does it take for the substance of a mountain to be washed to sea?
In this case the mountain represents the huge piles of cement kiln dust, 2.5 million cubic yards of hazardous waste, improperly buried and hidden underground at Bay Harbor and East Park. This toxic leachate is so potent it can kill or maim on contact.
The current cleanup plan intercepts the leachate before it enters Lake Michigan, neutralizes its highly caustic pH with sulfuric acid and trucks it off-site for disposal.
Our calculations show that it would take thousands of years to clean up the mountain. That’s one million gallons of toxic leachate per week, collected, neutralized, transported and pumped down the Alba well. Now factor in trace amounts of toxic heavy metals. These “traces” become tons when the variables of time and volume are factored in.
It is immoral to pass these toxic problems on to future generations and to risk polluting our rivers and Little Traverse Bay.
In contrast, our cleanup plan is simple. Entomb the cement kiln dust (CKD) in impervious cells at Bay Harbor. “Isolate and contain...” the CKD, just like the 2005 EPA Order says (and to which CMS agreed).
The process of entombment is widely used and not much different from building a standard hazardous waste landfill. A hole is excavated next to one end of a CKD pile. The hole is then lined with a material that is impervious to water and CKD, which will last forever. Next, excavate a portion of the adjacent CKD pile and place it into the lined hole or cell. Once the cell is full, cap it with the same material as the liner and proceed to line the new hole in the same manner as the first. Repeat until all CKD is contained.
This simple process halts the ebb and flow of water through the CKD piles. Once complete, there will be no need to truck leachate anywhere. The CKD would only need to be moved short distances and the work requires just simple excavating equipment.
The costs of our plan, when factored over time, are a mere fraction of what CMS currently proposes and there is almost no risk of contaminating other places.

Dr. John W. Richter • President, Friends of the Jordan River Watershed
 
Monday, March 23, 2009

Letters 3/23/09

Letters Book store casualty
Thank you for the support and the kind words in your editorial of March 16 as well as in your past issues (“Reinventing the Book Store” Random Thoughts). Our store, Boyne Country Books in Boyne City will be closing as of March 31, just short of 15 years in business. The recent economic downturn made our small business untenable. We really wish to thank all our super customers who have become our friends and supporters over the years.
We are sorry about the Borders situation mentioned in your editorial, and the bookstore business situation in general. The original Borders store in Ann Arbor was our favorite when we lived in that area and helped make us interested in opening a bookstore in the first place. We hope things will rebound for others as the economy improves. You can always be optimistic!

Steve and Kathy Anderson
Owners, Boyne Country Books

Patriotic drivel
Heather Shumaker’s account of her trip to Washington for Obama’s inauguration was interesting and appreciated. Joe Evancho’s eviscerating letter in response was one of the most petty and mean-spirited attacks I’ve seen in your pages.
His letter is just an attack and a blathering outburst of patriotic drivel. We have the highest standard of living in the world? In searching various ranking methods, I could not find a single source where the United States ranks number one. The 2008 statistical update of the United Nations’ Human Development Index ranks the U.S. 15th. The index combines normalized measures of life expectancy, literacy, educational attainment and Gross Domestic Product.
Our per capita income is high but less evenly distributed than in other western countries. In 2006, the poverty rate for minors in the U.S. was the highest of all nations in the industrialized world. There are many people here without full access to medical care. Unlike most European countries, if you lose your job in the United States you’re likely to lose your insurance. And in what other industrialized country does critical illness lead to bankruptcy?
Is patriotism exemplified by ranting slogans and spewing false assertions, then attacking those who take a more critical view of their country in exhorting it to rise to higher standards?
This is a great country, but there’s an adolescent arrogance in flag-waving assertions of being “the greatest nation on the face of the earth.” It’s as if we’re cheering at a football game rather than taking our national interests seriously.
It’s bizarre to claim that we have the backbone to correct our flaws if the government stays out of the way. History shows our government to be an agent of social progress in desegregating society and enforcing equal civil rights.
There are many terrible things in American history, including institutionalized slavery and genocide. What we can be proud of is our demand and expectation that we strive to do better and to live up to the ideals expressed in our founding documents. A tough task to be sure, but can we do it? Yes we can.
People like Heather Shumaker who engage and participate and celebrate our nation at critical moments in her progress are great and true Americans and contribute much more to our patriotic heritage than the petty sloganeers.

Gary Worden • TC
 
 
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