Welcome to Mich … Hey, Where Ya Goin’?

A reader with a good eye sends us this editorial from the Traverse City Record-Eagle, laying out the score for Bush in Michigan. Said reader points out that the paper is not known as a liberal one, and from my own travels in the area I can tell you Traverse City isn’t known as a particular bastion of leftist politics.

Dear President Bush:

� � � Welcome to Traverse City. Hopefully you got a glimpse of Grand Traverse Bay on your flight in and the beautiful landscape that makes this such a special place to live.

� � � Since this is a campaign stop, it is appropriate to address issues that residents of this area find important and would like to see addressed in this election year:

� � � – Air quality. Frankfort, a village of about 1,500 located right on Lake Michigan, has an ozone reading comparable to urban areas and is just one step away from being forced to adopt curbs on auto emissions.

� � � Obviously, that pollution isn’t coming from Frankfort; it’s coming from coal-fired power plants in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin that have been exempted from tougher pollution standards by your administration. When will it stop?

� � � – Taxes. Residents here would love to jump on the tax cut bandwagon, but don’t make enough money. Only 1 person in 55 in our region made $125,000 or more a year in 2002, just over half of what it took to qualify for the highest tax cuts.

� � � The Congressional Budget Office says those in the top 1 percent of income – $1.2 million a year – got a break of about $78,000. Those making $57,000 a year got about $1,100. When do the rest of us get our turn?

� � � – Great Lakes. Biologists warn the Lakes are just one foreign species predator away from seeing the charter boat and commercial fishing industries wiped out. And yet the U.S. Coast Guard refuses to enforce existing rules against dumping ballast water. Why?

� � � – National parks. As home to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, park policy matters here. The National Geographic Society and the General Accounting office say the parks are facing a $600 million shortfall in operating funds. Deferred maintenence has hit $5 billion. Wasn’t there room in the $400 billion-plus deficit for our parks?

� � � – The economy. No rebound here. Regional unemployment was 6.9 percent in June, and most new jobs are low-pay service industry positions that don’t include benefits. Can they expect some help?

� � � – National forests. A 2001 rule aimed at keeping roadless national forests closed to logging is being dismantled. It would allow states to decide if forest land should be opened to logging. So whose forests are these, anyway?

� � � – Iraq. Families across northern Michigan worry every day about a loved one in Iraq. What do you tell them when they ask why we’re there? No weapons of mass destruction, no al-Qaida links, no “imminent” threat to the United States all equal no justification. But nearly 1,000 Americans are dead, more than 6,000 have been wounded. And we’re not out yet. Why?

� � � These are things that are important to northern Michigan, Mr. President, and we hope you give them your attention.

� � � May your stay with us be a pleasant one.

Good journalists care about the communities they cover more than anything. More than politics, more than pressure, more than fame and fortune. If you have a free moment, you might want to drop a line to the editors of this paper telling them to keep doing their jobs so admirably and well.