2012-10-25 / Views

Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

As director of the Manistique Senior Citizen Center for 33 years, I felt it necessary to address the issues in the Pioneer Tribune where County Commissioner Dan LaFoille stated the county has an “ongoing issue” with the senior center and that “there are some other issues that are going to have to be cleared up, and it is going to take a while to get this all done.”

First of all, I want to mention that I called the courthouse the day of the meeting and was told that we were not on the agenda. Imagine my surprise when I read the front page article about the center.

Secondly, I want to say how privileged and honored I feel to work for the elderly of Schoolcraft County.

The Manistique Senior Citizen Center Board operates the Senior Center and the Schoolcraft County Commission on Aging Board oversees the services through UPCAP, Inc. This is quite clear.

In order to receive up to $20,849 in “unit based” funding, the center has to have the SCCOA funding ran through a governmental agency, which is the county. Two commissioners, who are only “advisories”, are required to attend these meetings and get paid to do so.

The SCCOA Board is part of the Schoolcraft County Audit which is paid from the $13,073.04 Indirect Service Charges the county bills us for vouchers being processed, audit, etc.

The Commissioners do not oversee the Manistique Senior Center Board, which is nonprofit. My researching found:

-‘If’ the millage has to go through SCCOA, it is Anderson, Tackman and Company, PLC (Allen) recommendation they “contract” with the Senior Center Board. Al mentioned he had previously spoken with Mr. LaFoille about this issue.

-Anderson, Tackman and Company, the county auditor, stated that we need to update our nonprofit status as soon as possible. We have been filing a Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Nonprofit Corporation form for the Senior Center and not 501C3.

-Allen from Anderson, Tackman and Company stated that nonprofit does not have to answer to the city or county.

The board could easily handle the above, if given a chance.

We do have $70,000 in CD money for major repairs. We need a new roof, have electrical problems (lights don’t always turn on) etc. How far do you think $70,000 will go? The Senior Center general account (which requires two signatures per check) currently has a balance of $10,075.57.

It is hard to believe that the school, courthouse, etc. does not have a fund for repairs. Mr. LaFoille, should we make the necessary repairs, and if so, where do we turn to for money?

Yes, I have asked to hire a parttime employee, which is in the budget for 2013. Mr. LaFoille stated this can’t be done due to a “hiring freeze”.

The millage money stated “for the operation of the senior center”. Isn’t that for all of the above?

To all those “yes” voters for our millage, thank you for your “trust” in my decisions.

Connie Frenette

Manistique Senior Citizen

Center director

Dear Editor,

Last week there were two letters that proposed to give advice to readers as to why they should vote against President Obama. One of those letters stated that ex-governor Romney “was handsome with a gracious statesmanlike aura and looked like every central castings number one choice for commander-inchief”.

The other stated that “Similarities between Communism and Obamacare are startling and President Obama had a communist mentor in his youth and currently had self-professed Communists, Socialists and Muslims in his administration.

This type of radical racist hate speech is not welcome in any civilized society and I hope your readers can see the real motivation behind that. The voters are faced with a clear choice in this very important election. We can only hope that voters will chose to move this country forward rather than back into the middle of the last century where that type of hatred prevailed.

Tom Boyd

Manistique

Dear Editor and citizens of

Schoolcraft County,

Where else has any organization in Schoolcraft County touched so many people as the Manistique Senior Center?

The activities there are numerous. These things are done by a director and many volunteers that want to help people, the community and the center.

A few important things that happen are trips to the doctor, income tax help, home heating credit forms filled out, foot care, visiting attorney for answering questions by seniors, outreach for seniors that can’t get to the center, homemaker aid services, checkbook balancing and bill paying services, educational classes and speakers, blood pressure checks, flu shots, health screening, homestead property tax assistance, home delivered meals by the Community Action kitchen, telephone reassurances. These are some of the needed services, now for the fun things – card games of many kinds, potlucks and entertainment, arts and crafts groups, the craft and gift corner, Tuesday bingo, bus trips, annual fall open house, Christmas party (always a full house), creative writing group and craft bazaar.

I guess I have mentioned many of the services offered that are needed and fun, however, anyone wanting to suggest something new to add, it can be tried and added. Hopefully there is something on the list for you to try and enjoy.

The center has had only three directors in all these years and they all were dedicated to seeing the best for the center and for the community. The center has survived because of these directors and the long list of volunteers.

We have two different boards at the center and they should be trusted to make good decisions. When something comes up that board should be able to act on it. It’s been that way for years.

I have been in meetings where we were told that the commissioners (county board) have been really busy correcting the things that the previous boards have done wrong. I guess that the senior center, they think, was one of those things! Every board has done what they thought was right for our county.

When something touches so many people successfully and positively why can’t we all get together and do our best to keep it going?

Anyone that would like to volunteer at the center – great! Call 341-5923.

Sincerely,

Guerda Frenette

Commission on Aging

Dear Editor,

We have heard a lot recently about how the middle class has been “crushed”. I agree with that assessment. Median wages have basically stagnated while the price of things we buy has continued to climb. I also agree with both the candidates for president when they say we need to grow the middle class. The question is how to do it. The answer is good jobs that pay a living wage.

Many years ago workers were in a situation where they were being paid low wages, worked in unsafe conditions and had a hard time even buying the goods they produced. Workers united to form labor unions and began the process of collective bargaining. This allowed them to bargain with one voice to fight for better wages and safer working conditions. They were able to succeed and the middle class was born. Businesses, especially manufacturing not only survived, but thrived, since more people were earning more money and buying more goods. Basically, this is what every hard working person wants.

When it comes to Unions I think it is safe to say “We are every worker”. Every worker wants the same thing. We want a living wage and a safe place to work. We want to raise our families and we hope to see them do even better than ourselves. We want to be able to live the middle class “dream” of owning a home and a decent automobile. After all this we would like to someday retire with dignity and a modest income. But to get all this we need to start with that living wage I spoke of earlier and history has shown that those who are able to bargain collectively do better.

There has been an all out assault on collective bargaining and unions for years. I see a correlation with the decline of unions and the decline of the middle class in this country. I have been a member of a union for 32 years. I have been able to live the middle class “dream” although recent events have made it a little more difficult. I personally know many of the “union bosses” and they are basically good people fighting for working men and women. They are far from the “evil mobster” stereotype many would have you believe.

When I get into a discussion about unions with someone, I always ask this question, “Why do you think that those that oppose unions and collective bargaining want to get rid of them?” I tell them there can only be one answer and that is to have absolute control over the wages and benefits of their employees and many times that means getting less. In a perfect world, all employers would be fair and generous, but we are far from a perfect world especially the economy is tough. The same true in the public sector.

The Republican governor in Wisconsin is trying to strip most public employees of their right to bargain collectively. This is still being challenged vigorously in the courts. Our governor said he has no interest in doing that, but if it came to his desk he would sign such a bill. This is why you see the fight for Proposition 2 in Michigan. We need to keep the right to form a union, to bargain collectively, to try to keep the middle class alive! Unions are the last champion of the middle class! I urge you to pass Proposition 2 and vote the straight Democratic ticket. It’s easy, it’s fast and it is the right thing to do!

Henry D. Weber

Manistique

Dear Editor,

When Romney ran for governor, he ran as a progressive. Two years later, when it was time to set the groundwork for a presidential run he had to make a choice: change parties or change policies. He changed policies. He had been for gun control, he had been proenvironment, he had been prochoice, and he had said man was affecting climate change. All that changed overnight. That must have been a powerful epiphany!

There is an old warning that said, “don’t buy a pig in a poke”. A poke is a bag. If you wanted to buy a sucking pig, don’t buy it in a bag and then open the bag when you got home. There could be something quite different in the bag, it could be a dog or a cat! No one, absolutely no one, knows what we’d get with a President Romney!

With Obama, we know what we have and if you step back and look at the big picture, you don’t have to blame Bush, just look at where we were and where we are now. We were losing 800,000 private sector jobs a month for several months! Unbelievable! Whose fault? Who knows? All economic indicators portended dire times ahead not just for us but virtually the whole world, pretty much everybody except Brazil, Russia, India, and China. We were very close to a world depression with many indicators eerily similar to the crash of 1929. It took Roosevelt 10 years and WWII to affect full recovery, actually to start recovery. We are now producing jobs and have been for many months but it is naive to think we’d be back to full strength in just four years. Are you yourself better off? Only you know. But, is the country better off? You betcha! Would you like to go back to two wars and losing 800,000 jobs a month and having less bank regulation and more tax breaks for the rich? Are you happy with bread crumbs while the rich eat cake? That nonsense didn’t work under Bush why would it work now?

We have to rebuild the middle class. The middle class is the one that buys the stuff that builds the economy, the poor can’t buy and the rich don’t, at least not in proportion to their income.

I’m sure Romney is a nice man and a good businessman but that isn’t what it takes to be a good president. Hoover was a great humanitarian and a good businessman, and, by the way, our last businessman president.

Jude Collins

Manistique

Dear Editor,

In response to the article in Thursday’s Pioneer Tribune, and comments made by Commissioner Dan LaFoille, we feel it is necessary to set a few facts straight.

There is no fraudulent activity going on at the senior center. There is a full accounting of all monetary activity. The Commission on Aging manages the grant money and it is all run through the county treasurer. It is audited. The Senior Center Board handles the fund of $70,000, which has the commission concerned. The fund is to maintain the building. We are currently in need of a new roof and two new windows, running in excess of $40,000. If we need a new heating system, I doubt if we would have enough money to take care of it. In all actuality, we need to add to this fund. All agencies for the county have a maintenance fund. We’re sure the county has one for the courthouse, as does the medical care facility, the school, the jail and hospital. This fund is set aside for these types of repairs. It can’t be taken from the general operating fund, so if seniors are cold or the water from the roof is running in, what do we tell them?

Commissioner LaFoille attends meetings with UPCAP in Escanaba, who fund our grants, but he never attends a Commission on Aging meeting to give us any information. Why go if you can’t share? Is it to collect county money for the trip? It all pertains to the Commission on Aging in Schoolcraft County.

We don’t understand why Commissioner LaFoille is zeroing in on the Senior Center. The staff is small, too small, but does a fantastic job. It is very stressful when you are being badgered in this manner.

We did have one little unfavorable discussion with Commissioner LaFoille and Commissioner Reiter that did not sit well. That was when they said they would take $10,000 from our millage funding to help finance Public Transit who already has operating millage money. Our board disagreed but the commissioners said it could be done. They would offer a day of free rides to seniors as part of repayment. To spend that amount of money, it would have to be some mighty long trips. That is not what this money was intended to be used for.

We currently have our maintenance account and approximately $10,000 in our general account, to operate on. We have requested funds from the millage before we are completely broke, but are met with opposition. What is the problem? Why is Commissioner LaFoille so protective of this fund? Do all of our commissioners go along with this? If so, we are in need of a big change. We as a board and our loyal seniors worked hard to get this millage passed, and we would like to see it used in the manner it was intended and that is for the operation of the Manistique Senior Center.

The Manistique

Senior Center Board

Dear Editor,

This letter is in response to Becky Miles’ letter of Oct. 18.

I agree with her first sentence that “this election is the most important in our life time.” However, I could not disagree more with the remainder of her letter. I find it incredible that anyone could have such radical views.

Ms. Miles’ states that Pres. Obama is “trying to turn our country into a third world nation” and attempting to the “Muslimization of America” (whatever that means). Additionally, in her long diatribe about Obamacare she states that it is threatening our health and hospitals. Lastly, she insinuates that President Obama might be a communist, socialist or Muslim. All of these assertions are erroneous and not founded on fact.

One wonders, where does a person get such radical fringe views? Do they pick them up on the internet, talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News or from falsehoods and lies put out by the opposition party?

President Obama is a good man, as even his opponent acknowledges. I believe he is a good president, and should be elected to another term. However, the choice of which candidate will receive your vote must be based on the facts, on the truth.

Richard Johnson

Manistique

Dear Editor,

Sheriff Harris filed a lawsuit against the county commissioners, because he felt he was not allocated enough funds to operate the sheriff department. The cost of the lawsuit to Schoolcraft County was approximately $20,000 for defense. The lawsuit was unfounded and dismissed in court. During a regular January 2012 county board meeting, Sheriff Harris presented a request for the county to pay his legal fees; which were $38,585.22. Request to pay his legal fees was denied. This lawsuit not only wasted our tax dollars, but was an insult to the county commissioners.

One question back in 2008 asked to the sheriff candidates was: What specific steps would you take to maintain or improve the relationship between the sheriff and commissioners? Part of Harris’ response was: “For as long as I can remember, it appeared that the commissioners and the sheriff are engaged in a silent war. The mission of the commissioners is to administer the budget for the county. Their charge is the allocation of available funding. Laws to provide certain services are mandate to the sheriff ... The commissioners believe the money they provide is not properly managed. It appears they do not trust the judgment of the current administration so they resist giving funding ... The commissioners have told me they have tried to talk to the administration and were told it was none of their business how the money was spent ... The new sheriff’s department with me as the leader, will cut waste, find ways to enhance funding, and manage what is given in an efficient manner.” Sheriff Harris’ above response, depicts that he hasn’t worked with county commissioners during his few years as sheriff, as he stated he would. Above all, the sheriff must work with the county commissioners with open lines of communication to solve the problems together.

I worked 31 years for the Michigan Department of Corrections; the last 15 years as deputy prison warden at corrections Camp Manistique, where I ran the entire operation of the facility and maintained a balanced budget. The six years prior to that, I trained all disturbance control, fire safety, selfdefense (prisoner management, Aikido and unarmed self-defense) and fire arms training.

The required qualifications to become a Michigan County Sheriff: needs to have a large amount of criminal justice experience, but does not need a degree; possess supervisory experience, basic math skills, above-average problem solving skills and be physically fit. I have an Associate and Bachelor Degree in criminal justice, 31 years criminal justice experience, 24 years supervisory experience, years of math and problem solving skills, and I’m physically fit.

I plan on functioning as part of the county government “team”, working together to make it right. I will serve and protect all citizens of Schoolcraft County, when elected sheriff.

Thank You;

W. John Norrington

Manistique

Dear Editor,

As you may know, Schoolcraft Memorial HomeCare and Hospice is committed to improving end of life care and expanding access to care with the goal of profoundly enhancing the quality of life for people dying in our community and for their loved ones.

Considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care at the end of life, hospice care involves a team-oriented approach of expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s wishes. Emotional and spiritual support is also extended to the family and loved ones. Generally, this care is provided in the patient’s home or in a home-like setting operated by a hospice program. Medicare, private health insurance, and Medicaid in Michigan cover hospice care for patients who meet certain criteria.

Health care professionals who specialize in hospice and palliative care work closely with staff and volunteers to address all the symptoms of illness, with the aim of promoting comfort and dignity.

In honor of hospice month, if you have any questions about hospice, contact us at (906) 341-3284 or visit the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Michigan website at www.mihospice.org.

Sincerely,

Kristen Peterson

RN director

Schoolcraft Memorial

HomeCare and Hospice

Dear Editor,

I have been interested in reading about the “issues” regarding the senior center. The center has been steadily improving its service to our community for the past 34 years. It moved to the present location, 101 Main Street, in September of 1978, but started in 1966 at another location. The center board and the Commission on Aging are responsible for the operation of the center.

Throughout the years the seniors of this community have been faithful participants as well as supporters of the center. The $10,000 would quickly disappear if a new roof and new windows were needed. It is not that large an amount of money for such a building.

I returned to the U.P. from Chicago in 1977 at the age of 54, making me one of the youngest seniors. After serving on the Board for over 25 years, I am very proud of the center for its service to our community. I am now 89 and one of the oldest seniors still attending the center for Bridge and lunch.

Respectfully,

Eris Webb

Manistique

Dear Editor,

I’d like to take the opportunity to address some of the issues outlined by Mr. Fleming, an inmate currently incarcerated in the Schoolcraft County Jail, which ran in the Oct. 18 edition of your paper.

Last year the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners entered into a contract with the Correctional Health Care Companies to address the medical needs of the Schoolcraft County inmate population. Before we entered into this agreement, the rising cost of inmate medical care was a serious burden to the taxpayers of Schoolcraft County. Since contracting with CHC, they have appointed a physician as medical controller and have hired a nurse who works part time at our facility. Of the ten counties currently contracted with CHC, all but one charge the inmate population for medical services rendered. In January of this year, I recommended the county board institute fees to the inmates who use the health care service. Earlier this month, the board instituted my recommendation and we began charging fees to see the nurse, the doctor, and for the administration of medication. Medications that are distributed to our inmate population are supervised by a facility nurse and all medical orders are approved by medical controller or designee. Our contract with CHC has worked extremely well and we look forward to continuing our relationship in our effort to provide basic medical needs to our inmate population while keeping the cost burden to Schoolcraft County as low as possible.

I’m very glad to have Mr. Fleming addressing facility concerns, such as the leaking roof. In 2010, we attempted to pass a jail millage to replace or repair our aging facility and it failed. I appreciate and understand his concerns regarding the current conditions of the jail. His leadership should help build the understanding that we really do need renovations to the facility … renovations that are beyond the current scope of the county’s financial ability … renovations that will only be possible with the help of community advocates such as Mr. Fleming. This should also clear up his “behind closed doors” statement and whatever that was intended to mean. I assure you that my door is always open and as citizens that are paying to operate this facility, all are entitled to see its condition.

Lastly, I personally review every grievance that comes across my desk; each one is investigated and handled. Just because an inmate does not get the answer or result he or she is seeking does not mean the grievance isn’t addressed. Jail inspectors from the Michigan Department of Corrections Jail Services Unit inspect this facility twice annually and inspectors don’t generally speak with inmates. Their inspection is designed to ensure the jail complies with the Administrative Rules for Jails and Lockups.

If anyone wishes to contact me to discuss the policy of this department or would like to visit the facility to assess operating conditions, stop by the office or contact me at 906-341-2122. www.michigan.gov/documents/ corrections/ Administrative_ Rules_for_Jails_and_ Lockups_ 293527_ 7.pdf.

Thanks,

Sheriff Grant Harris

Dear Editor:

Recently our local Democratic Party ran an ad in the Advisor stating “Be emphatic, vote straight Democratic.” Be emphatic? Are we emphatic over 23 million Americans who can’t find work, 47 million Americans who are on food stamps, or a disturbing trend with one out of six Americans who are now in poverty? Or maybe, our local Democratic Party is “emphatic” with the facts that we have record high foreclosures, record high loss of median family income and record shattering gas and food prices.

President Obama has failed Americans despite his promise to cut our deficit in half; he believes the top issues facing our country are Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s tax returns, or big Bird. The biggest issues are our national debt and putting 23 million Americans back to work. Our country has $16.2 trillion deficit, we borrow .43 cents for every dollar the president spends ($5.5 trillion worth). The travesty is we are mortgaging our kid’s future over and over again with no end in sight, spending like drunken sailors; meanwhile Mr. Obama was busy making history securing the nation’s first credit downgrade.

President Obama is constantly blaming anything and everything else for his troubles. It is embarrassing to see a president so willing to advertise his own powerlessness, so comfortable with the fact he is in over his head. Our Nation’s security is facing traumatic repercussions from Obama’s policies from the fact that our southern border is a sieve for violent criminals and terrorists to enter our country, the “Fast and Furious” cover-up, and now the active cover-up with Benghazi- Gate. For the first time in 30 years a U.S. ambassador was killed due to repeated requests for security that was denied. Currently the Obama Administration is trying to “ride this out” until after the election, as the response on the deadly consulate attack shows failed presidential leadership.

President Obama has no plans for the next four years; he tried his top-down “big government” experiment resulting in $90 billion of our taxpayers money lost with “green energy” and a failed stimulus with bad planning and poor choices that doomed the largest economic recovery program in history. Mitt Romney has outlined a clear five-point plan to get our economy back, President Obama who hasn’t met with his “jobs council” since January has no real plan to put America back to work or turn our anemic economy around.

Mitt Romney’s “5 Point Plan”:

1. Energy independence

2. The skills to succeed

3. Trade that works for America

4. Cut the deficit

5. Champion small business

While the market shudders, the obvious queasiness with America’s job creators, goofy jobs data, a government run health care system, all this and more is fueling a sense for a big change. Real change is needed and I “emphatically” ask you to vote Mitt Romney for president, as our nation is simply finished with a president whose rhetoric has never been matched by his actions.

Sincerely,

Paul Walker Schoolcraft County Republican

Party chairman

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