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Letters 06-25-2012

- June 25th, 2012  

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Panning the panhandlers

I have noticed a disturbing trend in downtown Traverse City. I have observed more and more public intoxication by street people, as well as blatant panhandling for spare change, and was even asked, no, told, to give one certain individual $2 one day, “for beer.”

Just yesterday afternoon, I was approached by three people within 10 minutes in the 200 block of E. Front St. for spare change, 50 cents, and one dollar. Another person has even begun to step out in front of passing motorists, and stop them to do his panhandling.

Where is law enforcement? Has anybody driven by Lay Park in the late mornings, and most of the afternoon lately? There’s a group of at least 10 persons consuming alcohol, and some appear to be passed out lying on the ground. Does this look good to folks who visit the region?

I saw one street person actually put his hands on one gentleman walking past the walkway between Kilwin’s Chocolate and Pangea’s Pizza. God help that person, or any street person for that matter, if they ever lay their hands on me begging for money. I’ll consider that an assault and take appropriate action as such.

Something needs to be done before it gets worse and somebody actually gets hurt.

Mike Boxhall • via email

Hidden agenda

Deb Shaughnessy, Republican state representative, in support of HB 5713, which severely curtails abortion rights, points in part to the bill’s focus on coercion in the Detroit Free Press of June 14.

The bill would make it a specific crime to coerce a woman to have an abortion. As an example of such coercion, she cites the case of a pregnant Detroit woman who was bound, doused with a flammable fluid, set on fire, and then shot. Her example elevates coercion to a whole new level. I think we may safely posit that this level of coercion is already highly discouraged by current law.

A more subtle, and thus more problematic level of coercion that might be cited by this new law, is coercion by raised eyebrow, curled lip, or inflection of voice. In fact, any close confidant attempting to offer sympathetic suggestions to a friend, could be in danger of violating the law created by the vague language of this bill, and thus be charged with a crime.

Let’s be clear. The purpose of HB 5713 is not to provide safer abortions, but rather to eliminate all abortions.

Bob Ross • Pellston

Rude cyclists

How can there be a downside to cycling?

There isn’t for the bicyclist, but there sure is for the pedestrian. Trails that were created for all to enjoy, have become so dominated by bicyclists that it is hard for a foot traveler to walk safely.

Robert Downes’s recent article, “A Boom in Bike Paths,” details existing trails and proposed new ones, but there is barely a mention of pedestrians. In fact, those on foot must now be labeled “hikers,” as though a backpack is needed to justify their existence.

I am on the Petoskey Wheelway almost every day, and find that anyone walking must be highly alert at all times, looking backward as well as forward. Modern bikes are silent, and cyclists, particularly those in spandex suits, don’t realize the bike can’t be heard until it is only a few feet from the person on foot. As I have written before in a letter to the Express, cyclists need only call out a simple “on your right” or “on your left” as they approach a pedestrian, or ring a bell. I estimate less than a third of cyclists do this.

The problem is prevalent on all trails as far as I know. Yesterday on the Wheelway between about 12 and 2 p.m., a bicycle went by about every 15 to 20 seconds, many of them at top speed. Half of these are the intense riders, with fancy equipment, spandex suits, etc., who will stop at nothing to keep their time.

These cowboys are oblivious to families, dogs, single walkers including seniors, or anything to do with nature. These speed cyclists are making the trails just about unusable for everyone else. Power cyclists should realize that if there is a collision, they themselves can be injured as well as the walker: a helmet only covers head injury.

My suggestions are as follows: cyclists, ANNOUNCE YOURSELF as you approach, by voice or bell. As for walkers, I suggest walking on the shoulder wherever one is available, and if no shoulder, walk on the left side. This way you not only see what is ahead of you, but have protection from a bicycle bearing down on you from behind.

Jean Wynn • Petoskey

Economic leadership

A strong and growing economy “floats all boats.” When business and industrial sectors experience success so do all who depend on them for jobs and as customers.

The critical success factors are simple. Income must be greater than costs. Cash flow is king and negative flow robs reserves to the point of bankruptcy. Companies considered poor credit risks cannot borrow operating funds or attract investors to assume risk for a share of equity.

Now a reality is being faced around the world. There are consequences for living beyond means. By definition, a government is living beyond its means when it spends more than the citizens are willing to fund.

California, Wisconsin and Illinois are examples of allowing unfunded liabilities to overburden the income stream available through taxes that voters will approve. Private investors sit on the sidelines when the business climate is laced with uncertainty and when elected leaders display hostility and contempt for the private sector.

The perfect storm for a troubled economy is when elected officials have an appetite for public sector spending that requires unsustainable levels of borrowing and when the private sector feels a political climate that is decidedly anti-business. This is why the experiment of electing a charming, articulate and well-meaning social worker to be president has revealed a serious mismatch of the needs of the office.

The promise of hope and change needs to be fulfilled by a president that understands when the government should lead and when it should get out of the way.

Dick Selvala • Cross Village

Peaceful warriors

Members of Veterans for Peace pledge to work to abolish war as an instrument of national policy. Two recent events have made me prouder than ever to be a member.

Last October Leah Bolger interrupted a public Congressional hearing to deliver a message from the 99%: End the war, and tax the rich to fix the deficit. She was arrested and sentenced to 10 days in jail, suspended, and 9 months probation.

Bolger is a retired Naval Commander and National President of Veterans for Peace.

On May 3, George Packard was arrested as he and other military veterans in the Occupy movement attempted to hold Veterans Memorial Plaza in New York City against police attempts to clear it. He faces a possible three months in jail.

Packard is a retired Episcopal bishop, a Vietnam battle veteran and a member of Veterans for Peace. He asserts that “people in the church should leave their comfort zone” and protest against war and injustice. He deplores the “inaction and timidity” of church leaders and clergy.

We all should be playing some part in reclaiming our country, working for peace and justice, and ending this inexcusable war, the tragic wounding and killing, the destruction of families.

John E. Lewis • Veterans for Peace, Navy vet WWII • TC

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