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- March 7th, 2011
Scapegoating migrants
Here in Northern Michigan some of our most important neighbors are our
migrant workers. We need them desperately to help our farmers who depend
on them.
Now a group of anti-immigrant legislators (including our Representative
Ray Franz) have proposed House Bill 4305, which is similar to the Arizona
bill that profiles Hispanics.
I often see our hardworking neighbors, migrant workers shopping at NJ’s in
Lake Leelanau with their families. They don’t look like the Wall Street
crowd who ripped off the American people or the Haliburton people who
profited from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They are obviously Hispanic
and look like they have done some pretty intense physical labor (the kind
no one else wants to do and cannot do well). Now I’m trying to imagine
what it would be like if one of our sheriffs checked them for papers and
how humilating that would be.
Have our immigrants become the scapegoat for our troubled society? It
seems to me that our country is losing its humanity and empathy for one
another. We need to educate ourselves regarding immigration policies in
this country and remind ourselves that most of us are from immigrant
families. We should not close the door to those who follow behind us.

Susan Wheadon • Cedar

No sympathy for Larios
Your writers have presented a one-sided story of the Liz Larios
deportation, apparently designed to evoke sympathy from your readers.
Judging from readers’ letters, the goal was met.
Certainly the actions of the federal agents could be considered brusque,
but what were the agents to do? Camp outside the house while the Larios’
packed up their belongings in their cars and then escort them down the
highway to Mexico? I know, many readers would say just turn a blind eye
to people living and working illegally here.
As to the articles, I would have liked a fuller account. For example, how
did the Larios family find work after their temporary work permits expired
many years ago?
To get hired legally in the U.S. an employee must present original
documents (birth certificate, driver’s license, Social Security card,
etc.) and sign Form I-9 on the first day of employment. Did the Larios’
use fake documents to get jobs? I would not be sympathetic if this family
stole or bought IDs. Also, where did they work, and were the employers
complicit in any tax fraud by not paying payroll taxes? I would hope
that law enforcement will pursue the case.
It is unfair to law-abiding businesses to have to compete against
businesses that employ illegal workers and who are not paying the fees and
taxes that go with employing people. And it is unfair to citizens,
permanent residents and legal temporary workers who have to compete
against illegals for jobs.

Scott Roelofs • TC

Pensioner pain
I have paid excessive taxes for 45 years while I worked hard.
The government has grown and continues to waste our money. They pay
excessive retirements for elected officials after only a short term of
service, plus continue to grant government officials large wages when they
don’t have any money in their budget.
Retirees are not responsible for these government errors and lack of
fiscal responsibility; therefore, DO NOT tax the retirement of fixed
income individuals who need to pay enormous amount of medical expenses
because the government can’t fix the medical system either.
Does the government want to cause civil unrest like other areas are

Harold Brubaker • via email

Tunnel vision
I was glad to see your comments on the hotel tunnel proposal (re: Random
Thoughts, “A Tunnel Too Far...” 2/28) It has bugged me for years that
safe easy access to the bay is cut off by the parkway in Traverse City.
Short of turning the parkway-occupied land into a park (my first choice)
let’s at least build a couple of skywalks like the State Park has. The
only really safe crossing is the Clinch Park tunnel which is gated and
locked much of the time. To build an ill-placed tunnel is absurd.
I wonder how many skywalks could be built for $1 million. It’s part of a
bigger problem. Despite great efforts and accomplishments by TART and
others, TC remains much more friendly to motor vehicles than to walkers
and cyclists.
Regarding the intersection at the Parkway and Division, I was part of a
demonstration there a few years back. We walked across the parkway (with
the lights) back and forth to show how messed up that intersection is.
We did this at rush hour and it slowed traffic flow, but not illegally.
I remember one guy, who was turning left off Division, attempting to drive
right through us even though we had a “walk” signal. Well, our
troublemaking (my word) was finally broken up by a very angry TCPD
officer. That crossing was moved to the east side of Division and that is
a little better.
I wonder if we’ll ever see the day when people are more important than
cars and commercial enterprises. (I’m 63. I walk, cycle, and drive a car.)
Bob Fitch • TC

Divide & conquer?
Can Americans be manipulated into creating their own downfall? The Koch
brothers, billionaire CEOs, own the second largest privately held company
in America, Koch Industries, including Georgia Pacific, Stainmaster, oil
refineries, chemical and fertilizer companies, plus financial and
investment groups.
The Koch brothers fund many political candidates, and are the money behind
“grass roots” organizations like Americans for Prosperity, leading to the
creation of the Tea Party. These groups have cleverly pitted Americana
against Americana. Add a few Rush Limbaughs, Glenn Becks, Bill O’Reillys,
and other agitators, and the stage is set. Divide and conquer!
A proper mix in Congress makes it possible, and profitable, for
corporations to export American jobs. Employment and wages plummet in an
attempt to compete, and labor unions are broken. American people lose
their homes. Health insurance is a luxury. Soon, a good public education
will no longer be available to the average person.
The result is a nation of poor, uneducated, unhealthy, homeless people so
desperate they will work for pennies. The process is complete. You’ve
created a nation full of slave laborers, a broken people with no rights
and no power.
Impossible you say? Just close your eyes and see what happens.

Barbara Bernier • Manistee

Power play
Last year, Wolverine Power was denied a permit for a $2 billion coal-fired
electric power plant in Rogers City. (Wolverine supplies power to Great
Lakes Energy, Presque Isle, Cherryland, and Homeworks Tri-County.)
During the public comment period, important issues were raised: Was the
business case sound? Were cleaner, cheaper alternatives explored? The
Michigan Public Service Commission was enlisted for a review.
MPSC’s report concluded: “Wolverine failed to demonstrate the need for the
proposed facility as the sole source to meet their projected capacity.” A
range of alternatives could have been explored. It questioned growth
estimates and said the plant “would result in an estimated average rate
increase of $77 per month for residential customers.”
This 60% rate increase would be the second highest rate in the country.
“While this was not a factor in the consideration of the permit decision,
it is a factor that should be considered in good public policy.”
A firm specializing in energy economics found Wolverine badly
underestimated the cost of building and operating its proposed plant and
significantly overestimated the cost of using more wind, energy
efficiency, and other options. Michigan ranks in the bottom half of states
for wind generation, yet has the potential to be 14th in the nation --
second in the nation when offshore wind is included.
Wolverine has already spent $22 million of co-op member funds and
continues to push for this project. In January, the Circuit Court returned
the permit to the MDEQ for reconsideration. The DEQ says it won’t appeal.
The decisions we make now are critical. This could be the most creative
and innovative time we’ve ever seen. Around 60% of Michigan’s electricity
already comes from coal. Residents and businesses spent $1.36 billion in
2008 to buy coal from other states. Michigan’s goal of generating 10% of
energy from renewable sources or credits by 2015 seems too modest. We
won’t move to sustainability overnight, but we must begin now. If we allow
Wolverine to lock us into 50 more years of coal, some will benefit, but at
what cost?

Debra Hansen • Levering

Sour Mash alert
An open letter to the citizens of Petoskey from Sour Mash.
Dear Petoskians,
Please accept our heartfelt apologies for the Hot Dates listing that
placed our March 5 concert in Petoskey instead of Leland. It’s got to be
a letdown to realize that Sour Mash won’t be in your town. We understand
your frustration and anguish and are more than happy to schedule a concert
for you at the earliest convenience. Just find us a hall and a date and
we’ll do the rest. We look forward to repairing the emotional damage done
and let the healing begin.

Sour Mash • Cedar

Big Mack attack
The Mackinac Bridge is regulated by the Mackinac Bridge Authority, a body
representing interests of everyone rather than the interests of any
individual community.
Shouldn’t access to Mackinac Island, also be regulated by a body
representing all interested parties, a Straits of Mackinac Ferry
Mackinac Island recently announced it will require all ferries to provide
low-season service when there isn’t enough business to support a lone
service. Also it’s requiring all ferry lines to extend their service day
during the entire peak season, whether or not traffic warrants the
extended day, while freezing the ticket price.
When beginning its “inquiry” into the ferry business, the City of Mackinac
Island expressed concern over “inefficiencies” in the ferry system. Its
actions this winter will add additional inefficiencies, while allowing no
additional revenue to compensate the ferry lines for required additional
Michigan should follow Massachusetts’ example. Massachusetts created
what’s called the Steamship Authority to operate basic
passenger/vehicle/freight ferry service and to regulate other ferry
services between the mainland and the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s
Rather than operate a ferry service, the Ferry Authority could hire a
private company to provide service when demand is insufficient to support
a private ferry service, with summer passengers paying modest fees to
subsidize off-season service and cover the authority’s operating costs.

Daniel M Robbins
Mackinaw City

Anti-vax doc defended
I have been independently researching childhood vaccines for over 30 years
and have witnessed this epidemic of autism and ignorance explode. I have
been publicly educating on vaccines since 1994 and know Dr. Andrew
Wakefield personally and professionally.
I personally wager my whole 30-year career as a public speaker and
researcher on the fact that Dr. Andrew Wakefield is telling the truth and
is complete innocent of any wrong-doing. This modern day witch-hunt is
completely out of control and big pharma and the media are to blame. Who
is this Brian Deer journalist who claims to have medical records of the
children who were studied in this research which he never even saw? Why
did the United Kingdom go to such extreme measures to discredit Dr.
It becomes blatantly obvious that vaccine manufacturers have control over
the medical journals, media and the kangaroo courts that protect and
promote vaccines. The parents of the U.S. and the U.K. whose children
regressed after receiving the the combined measles, rubella and mumps
vaccine (MMR) know who to believe and it is definitely not CNN, FOX and
the mainstream media that perpetuate the lie. Anyone who defends the
Wakefield media story is just uninformed!

Mary Tocco • Antrim County

Lights, camera, inaction...
Michigan workers are under attack by the state’s governor and others who
would prefer minimum wage jobs without benefits to jobs that not only pay
well but open new career doors.
The state’s film incentive program paid out about $100 million, but it
brought in over $600 million, thousands of new jobs, and positively
exposed the state to international investors and tourists. Within a couple
of years, the entertainment industry made a great impact not only for
individuals looking for work, but for local businesses and the tourism
industry. It was a win-win situation.
Many of the entertainment jobs are union. Michigan is a union state.
Which is why Snyder and many others are attacking it. Unions not only
support workers rights to safe working conditions, but also help insure
workers have a living wage and benefits.
I have paranormal film that I will be shooting in Michigan this spring. I
also have a drama which focuses on military life as well as many other
projects that I would like to film here. I’ve already had one venture
capital investor question the stability of the incentive program and
suddenly disappear. If the incentive program ends, I’m take my projects
and all that goes with it elsewhere.
I won’t be the only one. I heard that several others have put the breaks
on their projects, which means all the jobs, tax revenue and support for
local businesses is going elsewhere. I’m asking you to call your
representative and the governor. Tell them to keep the 42% incentive
For those of you who think this change will not affect you. Think again.
The state invited then industry in. They came. Everyone benefited. Now
that the program is paying off big time for all involved, the rules
suddenly change. If you owned a corporation, would you invest in a state
that pulled that kind of bait and switch? Most will not.

Theresa Chaze • via email

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