Letters to the Editor

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Growing concerns

Regarding Larry Gabriel's "Life in the desert" (Metro Times, Sept. 26), if Detroit and other U.S. cities want to develop stronger, healthier and more secure food systems, they are going to need to court professional farmers, both home-grown and from outside their borders, with urban farmsteading programs that provide either affordable land acquisition or long-term access to publicly owned land, along with the modest administrative and financial supports needed to set up their farm businesses. Different cities will utilize different implementation and support strategies, but they all need to develop policy commitments to agriculture within their borders and establish formal procedures for prioritizing disposition of their significant holdings of vacant land for farm use at below-market pricing. Urban farming is becoming financially viable due to market demand and commercial sub-acre farming techniques, and is an economic engine that can be nonpolluting, producing self-sustaining open space, and contributing positively to the health of city residents. So let's get growing! —Roxanne Christensen, Philadelphia, Pa.


Shoot the moon

Regarding John Thomason's review of "In the Shadow of the Moon" (Cinema, Metro Times, Oct. 3), I agree that the eco-friendly portion of the film didn't seem to fit. But having soaked myself in the history of Apollo for the last year or so while researching a graphic novel on the period, I can say that this clumsiness represents bad editing more than it misrepresents reality, since many of the astronauts expressed similar thoughts, not just in hindsight, but immediately after their flights.

It's amazing and gratifying to know that these hardcore, Type-A, and often cool-to-an-emotionally-distant-fault test pilots, many of them career military, really did view the planet and its fragility in a new way, and publicly expressed those views in emotional terms. You can get a hint of that in the address Aldrin, Collins, and Armstrong made to Congress after Apollo 11.

They're really quite moving. —Jim Ottaviani, Ann Arbor


Public hector

What a laugh, Marie Donigan referring to what Marc Corriveau did as forcing "Republicans to come to the table to negotiate a bipartisan and comprehensive solution to the state's economic problems" (Letters to the Editor, Metro Times, Oct. 10). Is that what she really thinks the Legislature did? What a joke on us the public! I am "represented" by Ms. Donigan — though not very well, I think. I am a liberal and almost always vote Democratic, but I have had many problems with her votes and statements over the years from way back when she was on my city's utterly ineffective school board. I say this as a parent of a teenager who is a good student who deserves far better than this school system has had to offer the last nine-plus years, much of which can be blamed on "no child left behind" and this state's utter reliance on MEAP scores. But blame must also be assigned to incompetence at the local level as well. I think it is all too easy for those who are elected to do the expedient thing rather than the right thing — and we have many legislators as well as local politicians who are more than willing to govern this way on both sides of the aisle. —Ed Steinberger, Royal Oak


Remembering recalls

I read with interest Jack Lessenberry's statement about recall elections ("Our sorry state," Metro Times, Sept. 26). That they are political poison and if continually used will lead to a Legislature of clowns.

I do agree with him in sentiment, but not in principle. Years ago I proposed a recall election myself. I later passed out petitions for it and even registered a few hundred voters for the effort (I also registered voters opposed to it as well when I came across them). The fellow I was trying to help recall was one John Engler.

So, you can see, I can look at it both ways now.

The big problem with a recall election is that it is usually only those who support it who come. This makes it possible for a relatively small minority of disgruntled voters to carry the day.

To deal with this possible abuse, let me propose one simple rule:

That the recall vote must be both a majority of ballots cast and that majority must be at least equal in size to the majority that put the person in office in the first place.

This would be a very hard test to pass. And I think it would stop any "minority of disgruntled voters" dead in their tracks. But it would also allow a large majority of outraged voters to deal effectively with a politician who did them dirt. —Bob Cornwell, Warren


Progressive taxes

Jack Lessenberry, in his column, "Bet you didn't know this" (Metro Times, Oct. 10), hit the nail on the head. I would go with the "Proposal A" in his column (lower the state sales tax to 5 percent and extend it to all services except medical and educational) with three changes, first, keep the sales tax at 6 percent so that second, you can make individuals earning less than say, $25K per year exempt from all state taxes (income, sales, etc.) so they can actually afford to live here and third, make it so that only medically necessary services are exempt from taxes (no plastic surgery for those in search of the "perfect body"). That way it's a progressive tax, i.e. the people making the most money pay the most taxes. —Philip Brzezinski, Ypsilanti


Errata: In our News Hits item "Split decision," we incorrectly identified which companies photographers Jim West and Jeffrey Sauger were working for. Sauger, was working for European Pressphoto Agency and West was working for the magazine Intelligence Report.

Send letters (250 words or less, please) to 733 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 48226; faxes to 313-961-6598; e-mail to [email protected]. Please include your telephone number for verification. We reserve the right to edit for length, clarity and libel.

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