Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Tastemakers: Soul Hole Shrimp & Crawfish Etouffee/ Knob Creek Kentucky Bourbon

Dining Rick Coates Soul Hole Shrimp & Crawfish Étouffée
Since opening last spring, The Soul Hole located on Union Street in the Old Town District of Traverse City has been a welcome addition to the region’s ever-growing culinary scene. If there has been one criticism to Northern Michigan’s dining community, it has been the lack of ethnic and regional cuisine offerings; basically little diversity and too much of the same thing. But in recent years that has been changing for the better.
The Soul Hole has also been helping to shine a light on what at times has been an overlooked part of downtown TC. With the State Theater and City Opera House renovations along with several new eateries, Front Street has been the focus of downtown Traverse City. Toss in the InsideOut Gallery and Right Brain Brewery in the Warehouse District and it seems that Old Town has taken somewhat of a backseat.
Monday, January 3, 2011


Dining Rick Coates 2011 Food & Drink Trends
In 2011 the economy and healthy eating are the two primary factors
expected to impact food and drink trends. Positive economic
projections for 2011 are already having an impact as consumers are
flocking to higher end liquors and restaurants. Better real estate
values are allowing more people to enter the restaurant business, in
particular the small “mom & pop” operations.
Monday, January 3, 2011

Mt. Holiday

Features Rick Coates Regrooming Mt. Holiday: Citizen support has put a new face on an old friend
By Rick Coates
Over the past 60 years, many Northern Michiganders have learned to ski
and snowboard on Mt. Holiday Ski & Recreation Area, located east of
Traverse City.
In recent years the operation had been challenged by financial issues,
some unruly behavior, the passing of the longtime owner, and being
closed for three seasons. But now, thanks to a nonprofit organization
formed by local citizens, Mt. Holiday has returned to the glory days
of its past.
Monday, December 27, 2010

Tastemakers: Michigan Shrimp/ Blue Peligan Bubbly

Dining Rick Coates Michigan Shrimp
When PBS Chef (Fork In The Road) Eric Villegas told me about Michigan Shrimp at the Father Fred Foundation Cigar Dinner six years ago, I was waiting for the punch line. There wasn’t one, Villegas was serious as he told me about Okemos-based Russ Allen and his shrimp farm.
Allen launched his Shrimp Farm Market (Seafood Systems, Inc.) in 1994. After a 30-plus year career consulting for shrimp farms around the world, he had the vision of creating an industry here in Michigan.
Aquaculture, or aquafarming, is on the rise around the world and those who subscribe to this believe that ultimately aquaculture will be the way the world is fed in the future. According to Corinna Borden, an Ann Arbor based author and writer who also manages the Westside Farmers Market (where Allen sells his shrimp and works at the family
Monday, December 27, 2010

Gordon & Bullough

Features Rick Coates Gordon & Bullough:
TC football standouts help lead MSU to its best season ever
By Rick Coates
This weekend the Michigan State Spartans will head to the Capital One
Bowl in Orlando to play the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Spartans
finished the regular season 11-1, with a share of the Big Ten
Championship, and ranked seventh in the country.
Two former Traverse City high school football standouts Eric Gordon
and Max Bullough played major roles on this year’s team.
Monday, December 27, 2010


Features Rick Coates Deported: Liz Larios faces life in Juarez
This is Part II of the story of Liz Larios and Russell Horn. Part I
appeared in the November 29 issue and may be read online at
www.northernexpress.com in the archives section.
Liz Larios and her family were deported to Juarez, Mexico from
Traverse City the day before Thanksgiving after spending years in the
region. Liz’s fiancé Russell Horn sold everything he owned and raised
$3,000 to join her in Mexico. The couple spoke to Express contributing
editor Rick Coates in a phone interview last week.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dean Robb

Books Rick Coates Dean Robb: An Unlikely Radical
New book covers the activist attorney’s career
By Rick Coates
Attorney Dean Robb leans back in his chair as he reviews documents at his
computer-less desk in his Suttons Bay law office. A portrait of Abe
Lincoln towers over him from behind, while on the wall next to him are
three photographs that are from pivotal moments in his life. One is from
1963 with Martin Luther King at the first ever conference of “white and
black” lawyers that Robb helped to convene, the second photograph is with
South African civil rights (anti-apartheid) leader Nelson Mandela, who
served as his country’s president from 1994-99. The third picture is of
Robb’s youngest son Matthew with President Obama.
Monday, December 20, 2010

Tastemakers: Grandma‘s Perogies/ Tyskie Gronie

Dining Rick Coates Grandma’s Perogies
Petoskey’s Marcie Newton had built quite a reputation for herself as the “Perogie Queen of Ohio.” Residing just outside of Cleveland, she began making this traditional Polish style dumpling (pastry) for coworkers and patrons at the tavern where she was a popular bartender. Her perogies became so popular that before she knew it she was getting orders for hundreds each week. With a business partner she launched Grandma’s Perogies and started producing over 100 dozen orders a day to keep up with demand.
Newton returned to Petoskey 10 years ago to care for her mother and left behind her successful perogie operation to become the manager of the Goodwill Inn retail store. As her mother needed more care, Newton quit her job, but needing an income, she re-launched Grandma’s Perogies in Petoskey. Leasing a commercial kitchen, Newton is now reclaiming her reputation as the Perogie Queen, but this time in her hometown.
Monday, December 13, 2010

Tastemakers: Hudsonville Ice Cream Lake Affection/ Great Lakes Brewing Company Christmas Ale

Dining Rick Coates Hudsonville Ice Cream Lake Affection
Hudsonville Creamery & Ice Cream (located between Grand Rapids and Holland) started in 1895 as a farmers’ cooperative in Hudsonville, MI when a group of area farmers joined together to create a better way to sell their dairy products.
Today the Hudsonville Creamery & Ice Cream Company is synonymous with great ice cream and is one of the top producers in the Midwest of this frozen treat. In 2010 they launched three new Limited Edition flavors (Blueberry Cobbler and Country Apple Pie) to this popular series with the latest addition released last week Lake Affection, made with Lake Michigan Blue mint ice cream swirled with snow vanilla ice cream.
“As Michigan residents, we wanted to poke a little good-natured fun at how much we all tolerate the winter weather – and just how changeable living on the shores of Lake Michigan can be,” said Anne Sukup, spokesperson for Hudsonville Ice Cream. “So we created Lake Affection, our homage to an otherwise dreaded weather phenomenon of lake effect snow.”
Monday, December 6, 2010

Tastemakers: Cafe Sante Steak Diane (Holiday Menu)/ Basil Hayden 12/6/2010

Dining Rick Coates Cafe Sante Steak Diane (Holiday Menu)
If you were looking for signs of economic resurgence, look to downtown Boyne City and in particular the new One Water Street building that is home to Cafe Sante. Part of the successful portfolio of restaurants owned and operated by Magnum Hospitality (Red Mesa, Pearls), Cafe Sante opened late last spring (opening a new place during the Great Recession -- what were they thinking?) and has been the talk of the Northern Michigan culinary scene since. I stopped recently on Wednesday night during the middle of deer season at 8 pm and it was a 30 minute wait, but after the dining experience my 13-year-old son and I enjoyed, it was worth the wait.
Cafe Sante features classic European fare with an impressive 16 beers on tap (unique English, Belgium and local micros) along with a something for everyone bottle selection. Add in the top shelf spirits (see Bottoms Up) and a wine list crafted by sommelier Ed Brehm, along with the ambiance and service and Cafe Sante definitely falls into the destination dining category (sorry, Boyne City, this place is too good for you to have it all to yourself).
Monday, November 29, 2010

Tastemakers: Hermann‘s Austrai Christmas Buffett/Samichlaus Bier

Dining Rick Coates Thanksgiving Reflection
According to historical accounts, the first “Thanksgiving Dinner” (as we know it today) in America was 389 years ago when the pilgrims celebrated a feast with Native Americans following their first fall harvest near Plymouth, Massachusetts. But this feast was never repeated and actually, most pilgrims during that era observed a day of thanksgiving by fasting instead of feasting.
There were earlier celebrations going back to 1541 when Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, led a “thanksgiving” celebration in what would become Texas. In 1789 President George Washington declared November 26, 1789 as a national day of “thanksgiving and prayer.” But the tradition ceased in 1818 and was restored again in 1863 by President Lincoln and has been observed annually ever since. In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt established the fourth Thursday of November as the official Thanksgiving Day.
Monday, November 29, 2010

Nightmare at the border: Liz Larios

Features Rick Coates Nightmare on the Border
Liz Larios deported to drug-riddled town in Mexico
By Rick Coates
For all practical purposes Liz Larios considers herself an American.
She graduated from Traverse City Central High School and has lived in
the United States for the past 18 years since the age of six. Since
high school, she has been holding down two jobs to pay her bills and
planned on marrying her boyfriend of six years, Russell Horn, sometime
next year. There was just one problem, the 24-year-old Traverse City
resident was born in Mexico.
Monday, November 22, 2010

Triple Shot

Music Rick Coates Triple Shot: Jackyl, hip-hop pioneer DMC & Uncle Kracker roll out the rock
By Rick Coates
Jackyl is arguably the hardest working band in rock and roll. They hold two Guinness Book of World Records, one for playing 100 concerts in 50 days and another for performing 21 concerts in a 24-hour period. The band is most infamous for their chainsaw wielding frontman Jesse James Dupree.
The band makes no apologies for their controversial shows, because as Dupree says: “That ain’t the rock and roll way, you don’t apologize.”
The band will make their way to the Ground Zero Nightclub on Friday as they kick off their new tour. Joining them will be Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member DMC of Run DMC fame.
Monday, November 22, 2010

Tastemakers: Thanksgiving reflections

Dining Rick Coates Thanksgiving Reflection
According to historical accounts, the first “Thanksgiving Dinner” (as we know it today) in America was 389 years ago when the pilgrims celebrated a feast with Native Americans following their first fall harvest near Plymouth, Massachusetts. But this feast was never repeated and actually, most pilgrims during that era observed a day of thanksgiving by fasting instead of feasting.
There were earlier celebrations going back to 1541 when Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, led a “thanksgiving” celebration in what would become Texas. In 1789 President George Washington declared November 26, 1789 as a national day of “thanksgiving and prayer.” But the tradition ceased in 1818 and was restored again in 1863 by President Lincoln and has been observed annually ever since. In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt established the fourth Thursday of November as the official Thanksgiving Day.
Monday, November 22, 2010

Mixed message

Features Rick Coates Mixed Message: Why is BYOB okay at TC events, but not at restaurants?
By Rick Coates
Earlier this year when the Traverse City Police Department began enforcing a confusing Michigan statute on alcohol consumed at non-licensed establishments, mixed messages were sent throughout the community.
For instance, will stores be allowed to serve alcohol at the popular downtown Traverse City Men’s Night (December 16), as has been the tradition in past years?
How about the tailgating with alcohol that takes place at every high school football game at Thirlby Field, also in the city limits? What about tailgating at Interlochen prior to concerts?
According to the interpretation of various Michigan statutes by officers of the Traverse City Police Department, all of these events would be a violation of Michigan laws, possibly resulting in a misdemeanor for the consumer and a felony for the establishment.
The legal underpinning is called “consideration,” which occurs whenever an establishment gives away or allows someone to bring alcohol onto their property when they are collecting money for an event, selling merchandise or a meal.