Letters to the Editor

Keep light shining on local issues

Dear Editor,
Last week was Sunshine Week, a time “to enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger.”
March 16 was Freedom of Information Day and the birthday of James Madison, who is widely regarded as the Father of the Constitution and as the foremost advocate for openness in government.
The Village of Clarkston government had the opportunity at the Monday, March 12, meeting to celebrate this and Michigan’s 41-year-old Freedom of Information Act.
An involved resident even gave them the opportunity during public comments, but in a 3 ½ hour meeting, there was very little sunshine.
The City of the Village of Clarkston is still in the Michigan Court of Appeals trying to gut Michigan’s 41-year-old Freedom of Information Act. The council has taken no official action other than silence.
There are issues of conflict of interest, expenses are incurred prior to funds being budgeted, resolutions made that do little to define what is being voted on, and vague meeting minutes that neither define what is being done or why.
There is a serious lack of planning, priorities, enforcement, dealing with the cost of ongoing legal issues and a long term budget.
Fortunately, there are some signs of progress on these issues from some of the new council members.
The mayor has raised issues of charter and ordinance compliance.
Issues are at least raised and discussed, but poor or no documentation leads to confusion and lack of a defined action.
Issues are abandoned only to be discussed all over again at some time in the future. What does it take to make informed and well documented decisions where future councils and residents will know why it was done instead of starting all over?
The Village of Clarkston is a nice place, with a long history, nice businesses and many good people. We even have a local newspaper that prints letters.
There is immense potential given the growth around us and the desire of many to live in a place much like this. That potential will only be achieved with clearly defined goals, a plan to achieve them, and public participation.
Shining a little light on all of this will help.
Cory Johnston

A call for reasonable gun control for the children

Dear Editor,
A sad world when our kids have to take the inititive to address the need for a reasonable gun policy in this country! I only hope that the adults and politicans see the need to ban assult weapons, limit the size of magazines, regulate gun show sales and insure sound back-ground checks.
The right to bear arms is not a warrant to have any type of weapon.
Let’s get behind our children and adopt some reasonable restraints on guns.
Jim Reed

Buffalo mess points to larger issue, reader says

Dear Editor,
The Clarkston Buffalo Street parking debacle is just one more small, but key, indicator of the serious decline in American ethical political leadership at every level, local, state and national, that is continuing to erode the moral authority of the United States as an international power.
Worse yet, it is adversely affecting a whole generation of young Americans who have few ethical political leaders to serve as role models and mentors. More than ever, politicians are running a system where “winners” spin and scam, defend and deny, refuse to give direct answers to simple but direct questions, and bully those who raise legitimate issues.
Locally, we’ve seen city officials and their advisors collude to limit disclosure of records to taxpayers with valid questions and concerns about how local government operates. A council member, apparently, and hopefully, feigning ignorance fails to recuse from voting on a parking issue affecting property she owns and which potentially advantages the finances of her relatives.
Another apparently ethically challenged or just plain ignorant, or arrogant, council member characterizes those who questioned her fellow council member as being “rude.”
She questions whether she and another council member might be oh so unfairly restricted from voting on matters affecting their own financial interests. Avoiding conflicts of interest or appearances to that effect are simply not the concern of these politicians. They are special.
Of course, these local spats may be small potatoes, but the same mindsets and failures to speak out are affecting folks on the state level, too. Michigan’s schools and infrastructure continue to deteriorate and fail at rates exceeding those of most other states, and educated young people continue to seek success outside the state.
Meanwhile, the state legislature continues to look for ways to give more tax deductions, schemes and cuts to wealthy corporations and elites as middle class Michiganders continue to stagnate even with their new found wealth in GOP “tax reform.”
Nationally, lip service, thoughts and prayers have been offered, again, but Trump and the Congress have done nothing substantive to protect our children from guns.
Of course, lowly compensated teachers struggling with resource limitations and low incomes might now get to pack heat in the classroom if congress and Trump have their way.
We’ll have money for that gun training. But no money is available for infrastructure, social security, healthcare or education.
Our priorities are record military spending and ill advised foreign military ventures for ungrateful nations. For that and tax relief for the wealthy we have billions of dollars available.
As Trump ignores Russia’s efforts to attack our electrical grid, nuclear power system, telecommunications and elections so the Trumps can curry Putin’s favor to develop and protect Trump Enterprise interests in Russia, our congressional reps and most senators stand silent.
They are afraid of a lying, blustering blowhard. Tax relief for wealthy donors and re-election are more important.
Americans should be seriously concerned about our conditions and a system that would dupe so many and allow the likes of a Donald Trump to be elected president. The nation is in crisis. It is up to decent middle class folks to fix it. Thankfully, young voters and about-to-be-voters seem to understand the problem.
Mike Fetzer
Independence Township