August 14, 2019

Meeting ITC August 11, 2019


Citizens Taking Action in North West Michigan

Report on Meeting Sunday August 11, 2019

By Linda Pepper


Always remember the tip jar on the counter at the Workshop Brewery.  Be careful with parking. We used to park across the street along the chain link fense, but now they are ticketing that spot.

Next meeting: Sunday September 8, 2019 at the Workshop Brewery.  Carol Schukra will take notes.

Please wear “No Line 5 Tunnel” tee shirts to the next GT BOC meeting August 21st at 8:00 a.m.


We had a terrific picnic on Thursday August 8th where Vickie Gutowski reported that nearly 400 people attended.   Twenty-two groups and 12 speakers came.  Four county Democratic Parties – Leelanau, Grand Traverse, Antrim and Benzie attended.  It was suggested we need to get an LTE sent out talking up the event.  Keli McIntosh talked about how proud she was to be representing Traverse Area Indivisibles at their Penny Poll table.

The consensus is that we will repeat in 2020.  Sylvia McCullough will check on the Cathedral Barn at the Commons for some date August or September.

Sam Getsinger reported that a “tracker” for Senator Peters showed up. He was allowed in the public part of the park but not in our private gathering.  The Sheriff was there and was respectful although some of his officers made snide comments. The drone handler caused some PTSD responses and we asked to have it taken down.  Sam’s grandson dressed in an “Impeach Now” tee shirt sold “peach mint” popsicles.  Some did not get the implication, but those who did thought it was a great pun.

Suggestions for Next Year’s Picnic:

We would like to do a weekend afternoon event next year to draw young working families. Michael Earl suggested we include a pet parade or other family-oriented activities.  We need to be even more “green” to reduce the ecological footprint.  Perhaps the BATA Bus could supply shuttles?

  • We need signs with the speaker’s name and organization displayed as they speak.
  • We should announce the “Thank You’s” at the beginning of the event.
  • We need to look for groups of younger people and offer to help them, attend their meetings, not expect them to join us.

Consensus:  It was a great event that we want to build upon in 2020!


Denise attended the picnic and took photos.  She was presented with a shellacked Petoskey Stone and Thank You Card for her efforts.  Denise offered to help in the Michigan 2020 election and other Indivisible building activities. She has family in the area and comes regularly in the summer. Her group sends out an Action Email to their 9000 members with 3 calls to action every morning Monday through Friday. It can be a notice on a federal or Illinois bill or a gathering or meeting. They are good at logistics and help plan other groups events. (Ex. Upcoming Immigration March in Chicago.) Denise reported that they have a good portable sound system the purchased for around $1500, that they lend out with an Indivisible operator to other groups. It gets them visibility and helps build coalitions. 

Chicago Indivisible is a C4 non-profit but have used the National Indivisible Fundraising Project thru Act Blue in the past to raise funds.  Allen McCullough will explore this as a future possibility for us to use with the contact Denise provided.  They helped turn two congressional districts blue in Illinois (Lauren Underwood and Sean Casten) by canvassing, post carding and phone banking. They are willing to help Michigan return to being Blue as well.

Indivisible Chicago is hosting a Midwest Indivisible Summit in Chicago on October 5th.  She will share more details as they become available.

They are interested in working with Oil and Water Don’t Mix and FLOW to thwart the Enbridge campaign.  They do have Indivisible groups in Chicago focused on shutting down Line 5 but it isn’t a widespread movement yet.  Keli reminded Denise that if there is a spill, the Mackinac Bridge will be shut down and prevent goods, gasoline, merchandise, etc. from being delivered to Chicago stores.  Denise agreed it was an important issue they could start working on more aggressively.

They could also help with our political messaging as they have some communication and public relations professionals in the group


Michael Earl encouraged everyone to watch “The Great Hack” (Cambridge Analytica) and the “Planet of the Humans” on the need to decrease consumption and population in order to thwart climate change on Netflix.  Clean energy development will not be enough.

At the prodding of John Hunter, we are going to look into being more control of our FB pages.

Vickie Gutowski is sending an article and we will distribute it.


There is a recall movement in Grand Traverse Co.  A Recall Community Forum is being held Wednesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Woodmere Library, August 14th.  There is talk of expulsion from the MI House by the Republicans but no action yet.


They are trying to pass a resolution supporting the Line 5 Tunnel.  There was great turnout at the last meeting with 21 people commenting against the tunnel.  The vote was postponed until Aug. 21st.  They plan to bring it back for a vote at that time.  We will be organizing an even more robust protest.  Enbridge is running a propaganda campaign and spreading a lot of money around.


Gretchen and Ted Iorio reported that they are moving fast towards becoming an Independent Authority.  This will remove liability from the County to the Authority. The Authority will be able to buy and sell property. They will have the power of eminent domain. There may be regional representation beyond Leelanau and GT counties, for example someone from Grayling.  They feel that being and Independent Authority there will be (they say) less political influence on the authority.

The Articles of Incorporation will be the document that lays out how the Authority will work. This will be the document in which the public must have input. Commissioner LaPointe is in a rush to get this done.

We were all outraged at the clear cutting at the Airport. As a community we need to have a voice in how the Airport wields its power. The airport is a major player in how our city manages future growth. As a community we need to have a voice in how that development takes place. If the BOC turns over the Airport to an Independent Authority, the development of the Articles of Incorporation will determine how much of a voice we will have. When we put out a call to action, we need everyone to respond.


Keli McIntosh reported that ACLU Regional Coordinator, Anna Dituri, is looking for people to host discussion groups in their home about the current policies. Grand Traverse has one of the highest rates of long-term incarceration in the state. Please contact Keli if you are interested in holding a discussion group in your hom .

There have been some meetings with the prosecutor, Noelle Moeggenborg, but they have not been productive.

There will be a Smart Justice Task Force meeting on August 23rd. Details are under events.


  • Due to Labor Day, we will hold our September Mtg. on Sunday, September 8th
  • Debate Parties will be held at the Benzie Dems Headquarters on September 12th & 13th.  Time to be determined by number of qualifiers.  Will post as determined.
  • GT BOC Meetings Wednesday, Sept. 4th and 18th at 8 am.
  • Airport Commission Mtg. August 20th at 12:30 pm in the 2nd floor conference in the terminal building.
  • Regular Airport Commission Mtg., August 20th at 3 pm in the Airport Terminal Conference Rm on the 2nd floor.  We will alert if changed.
  • Traverse City Choice Conference at Hagerty Center, Aug 22, 6 pm.  Tickets are $100 apiece.
  • GT Dems Summer Picnic at Noon at the Civic Center Park, Sat. Aug 17 at Noon.  I encourage everyone to attend and bring a dish to pass.
  • MI Joint Task Force on Jail & Pretrial Incarceration, Kirkbride Hall, 700 Cottage Dr. #200, TC, Meeting 9:30 – 12:30, Public Testimony 1:30 – 4 pm, Friday, August 23rd. 


  1. Sign Inman Resign Postcards & Petition to Recall
  2. Call MoC’s demanding Legislative Action to pass Universal Background Checks, close the gun show loophole and ban military assault style weapons.
  3. Attend Bergman, Schmidt, VanderWall & O’Malley Coffee Hours

4. Attend GT BOC and Airport Commission Meetings!

Our next meeting will be Sunday September 8th, 10 am at the Workshop Brewery, 221 Garland St. TC. 

Report on Meeting Lavora Barnes

Report on Meeting with Lavora Barnes, Chair of MDP  

Saturday, August 3, 2019, Leland, MI


By Sylvia McCullough

Lavora Barnes, Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, met with a group of county Dems and Indivisibles at the Leland Lodge, Leland, Michigan, Saturday, August 3rd.  Lavora was accompanied by MDP Executive Director, Christine Jensen.

Jim Dulzo, Chair of Benzie County Dems asked her what the main issues are that the MDP wants to message as top priorities.  She replied:

  1. Healthcare, including women’s, mental health, and prescription drugs.


  1. The economy stressing that Trump’s promises to keep factory jobs has not occurred and that too many people have not benefited from the rise in the stock market.


  1. Whatever you think is important locally.


Lavora then asked what the MDP could do to support our county Dem groups up as well as our candidates.  She also asked what the issues are up here that are important to us.  She then sat back and listened and took notes.  A number of asks were made from the attendees:

  1. Immigration – Need Sen. Stabenow and Sen. Peters to address      immigration issues by seeing to it that existing immigration laws governing our seasonal migrant population be enforced.  It isn’t enough to support comprehensive immigration reform.  We need the lack of H2B visas for farm workers increased, the red tape cut, and a ceasing of the arrests of migrant farm workers.  We do not hear them speaking out and addressing these issues.


  1. MDP support for our district which is too often written off in favor of downstate districts because we are considered to be too “red.”



  1. Gwenne Allgaier, Co-Chair of Leelanau County Dems stressed a need MDP field organizers from our area to help with organizing campaigns, training, media, literature and much else. We need more field offices.


  1. Jim Dulzo, Chair of Benzie County Dems ask for training on how to do social media videos.



  1. Push for broadband business internet. This is needed to bring tech and clean energy development to our area, create jobs and keep our young families from having to move elsewhere.


  1. Equitable school funding equal to downstate.



  1. Shut down Line 5. People in the U.P. need clean energy development to create jobs that will diminish their support for building the tunnel.


  1. We need boots on the ground for big canvassing campaigns as our aging population up here finds it difficult in some cases to go door to door. And we aren’t getting any younger.



  1. More TV ad support. She said this was difficult as they tier their media advertising prioritizing downstate, then Grand Rapids, and we get what is left over.  She said they do not have enough money to hit everyone equally.


  1. Come up and be a presence in our organizations and events. We need to see our representatives up here more often.  We work very hard up here, contribute to their campaigns and the MDP and we want them to show up!



  1. The issues of Indivisibles vs. Democratic parties came up and where did she stand on that apparent She said she does not care what people call themselves as long as they work for and support Democratic candidates. 


As the session concluded everyone stressed how welcome she is up here, that we want her to come back often and any number of us will be delighted to host her in our homes.  We invited her to join the Indivisible Picnic on the 8th as well.  She promised she will come back and she will convey our message to the downstate MDP and Senators.  I found her to be very receptive to our issues up here in the 1st District, and in general found her to be a breath of fresh air and just a delight.

Report on Indivisible Picnic

Report on the Traverse Area Indivisibles & Friends Picnic, August 8th, 2019.

By Sylvia McCullough

As I sit here on my patio overlooking my garden and try to process the amazing turnout we had at the Traverse Area Indivisibles & Friends Picnic that was held up at Peterson Park, Northport, yesterday afternoon on Aug. 8th, 2019, I scarcely know how to sum it all up, but here goes:

First off, thanks to all the volunteers, issue table groups, the four county Democratic parties who took part and boosted the event, and of course our wonderful line-up of speakers who included Carolyn Moss, President of the Munson Nurses Union; Jim Olson, founder of FLOW; TJ Stephens, Chair of the Anishinaabek Caucus; Holly Bird, Lawyer for Standing Rock; Dan O’Neil, former Democratic Candidate for the 104th District; Dana Ferguson, Democratic Primary Candidate for the U.S. 1st District in 2020; Linda O’Dell, Democratic Primary Candidate for the U.S. 1st District in 2020; Rep. Christine Greig, MI House Minority Leader; Senator  Gary Peters and Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

I want to make a point of saying that while each speaker promoted their causes or candidacy, each of them also promoted the necessity of protecting our silent partner and life giver, the Great Lakes, by advocating for the shutdown of Line 5 permanently and preventing any other fossil fuel pipeline from being placed under our precious Great Lakes.  Clearly, water protection is a huge issue for Michigan, especially here in the 1st District.  I think I may venture to say that is equally important to all the nine states that border on or whose waters are fed by the Great Lakes freshwater system. 

As reported by picnic organizer, Vickie Gutowski, based on name tags distributed, signup sheets, volunteers (about 40), issue table attendees, the Senator’s and Governor’s staffs, and law enforcement and EMS personnel, nearly 400 people were in attendance over the course of the afternoon!  Included in that number were a leader from Chicago Indivisible, Denise Polyonak and Ruthette Mills, Chair of the Indivisible Central based in Curtis, Michigan in the UP!  “Small But Mighty” is their moto and indeed they are!  Thanks to both Denise and Ruthette for coming so far to help us celebrate our launch into 2020. 

Thanks to Harold Lassers, Communications Chair of the GT Dems, and Denise Polyonak, for photographing our event.  Their photos can be viewed here:,

and here:

I also want to pay special tribute to Vickie Gutowski and Sam Getsinger, whose amazing event planning and community organizing skills kept us on our toes.  As Vicky told me at the end of the day when I thanked her, “I’m anal.  What can I say?”  Well, clearly that is a skill we all could do more to cultivate!  Humor played a great part in our success especially from those wonderfully funny blasts put out boosting our event from Jim Dulzo, Chair of the Benzie Dems.  I give a deep bow of gratitude to all of you. 

Thanks to John Hunter, our valiant MC for his humor, his ability to change gears when needed and to the musicians who played great songs.  Thanks to Bay Area Recycling for Charities for donating compostable plates, utensils and garbage bags. To Barb Krause our timer for doing her best to keep folks on schedule. To the silent donor from Grand Traverse Indivisible. To everyone who attended and demonstrated their passion for changing the direction of our country.

And finally, from John DeSpelder, Indivisible Grand Traverse, with whom I wholeheartedly agree: “I am so overjoyed to be a part of such a passionate, hardworking and caring group of people. We are building a strong network of Indivisibles and our allies. Think of it, the long list of esteemed speakers, the 22 groups that traveled to Peterson Park to join us today, the friends and neighbors that turned out…we’re creating a huge community of like-minded people that are changing the political and social landscape of this beautiful area that we call home.” 

While we should all pause for a moment to contemplate and celebrate our success, give ourselves a pat on the back, but then be ready to jump back into the fray as we move forward marching hand-in-hand into 2020! 

August 12, 2019

Wonderful Forum Piece


Preventative Justice


“Prevention is so much better than healing because it saves the labor of being sick.” This is from Thomas Adams (17th Century Physician)

It is a well-known fact that preventative healthcare is much more cost effective than chronic care. I believe the same principle can be used in the Judicial Systems of our country.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, Michigan’s incarceration rates stand out internationally. Rates of imprisonment have grown dramatically in the last 40 years. Michigan’s pretrial population has more than tripled since the late 1970s.

At the moment, Grand Traverse County has one of the highest incarceration rates in the state; and the rate of recidivism is also one of the highest. Personally, I don’t feel Grand Traverse County is a criminally-infested community. So, why are we sending so many of our citizens off to jail or prison?

An over-zealous prosecution system is part of the problem. The other is a lack of community support for at-risk people.

Disproportional bond requirements and horizontal/vertical overcharging of suspects has resulted in more plea deals and less trials. Only three days in jail is known to impact a person’s life. Many innocent people are held in jail where they have no choice but to plea.

The Prosecuting Attorney tells us there is not enough funding to provide alternative options.  Years ago, mental patients were housed in the State Mental Hospital and were under the care of trained staff and physicians. That treatment was considered inappropriate so the patients were moved out under the care of the community. Shortly after that, the funding for community mental health services was cut and the number of treatment beds plummeted. So now, instead of being confined in the State Mental Hospital, these people are held in jail with untrained (and often unsympathetic) law enforcement officers supervising their lives.

Recent cuts in education funding have left many young people unprepared to support themselves after graduating from high school. There are few opportunities in our area to learn a trade, and even fewer jobs that pay a living wage. Low income people don’t stand a chance in our current judicial system.

Wouldn’t you prefer your tax money be spent to provide a good education, job training, and guarantee food and housing for those at risk in our community, making it possible for them to become productive members of society. That is a much better plan than paying to keep people incarcerated for years; it would be much more cost efficient.

Preventative Justice seems like a much healthier societal option than incarceration because ——–.

The because should be obvious.

The ACLU’s Smart Justice Campaign is looking into addressing these concerns.

By Keli MacIntosh 

Retired nurse and member of Indivisible



June 23, 2019

A Visit with Chasten Buttigieg

Report on the Chasten Buttigieg Event

By Linda Pepper

Friday June 21, 2019

Hopeful is the word that describes the hour and a half spent in the presence of a young man who grew up in Traverse City who has been thrust into the limelight of a presidential campaign. Chasten Buttigieg is the husband of Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Chasten struggled with his identity having come out the other side with a great appreciation of his life and current happiness. He expresses deep empathy with all marginalized groups such as women, people of color, the homeless and veterans. He is not bitter but hopeful. He is ready to work hard to meet their challenges.

Chasten was introduced by his drama teacher from TC West, Christy Bach, who helped him find acceptance and success while in high school. Susan Odgers, who teaches at NMC, talked about Chasten being in her Sexuality class. She has seen an evolution of appreciation for sexual diversity in people and their inherent value over 30 years in our area. Jim Carruthers talked about the changes he has seen since 1989 when he moved here.

Chasten started the program talking about his family and his parents who were in the front row, and how much their love and support means to him. He also discussed the struggles a young man feels when he just doesn’t fit in. He made the statement that “the closet kills!” It means that denying who you really are can lead to depression, despair and suicide. That simple statement really crystalized for me the importance of being an ally to anyone on the LGBTQ spectrum.

Questions from the audience were read by his drama teacher, Christy Bach. The first was about his priorities if he became First Gentleman. He talked about the White House as the People’s House and how he would invite ordinary citizens in as much as possible. He would advocate for the homeless, veterans and LGBTQ citizens, and for the arts and theater programs to help people find their passion.

Chasten is a teacher and wants to “respect teachers as soldiers and pay them like doctors.” It is a glib line, but he realizes that students are not robots but human beings. Helping them develop is what education is about.

Chasten was asked about what had surprised him on the campaign trail. He talked about how many people feel that politics is far away but is happening to them. They often feel powerless, and in need of programs like Obamacare, or the ACA, to make their lives better. He also has been amazed by the amount of racism, sexism and animosity he sees toward immigrants. He said it is easier to divide people than to build hope. He believes that Pete Buttigieg can build hope and bring people together.

Chasten suggested that we all can help by talking about how older people like the idea of young leadership and respect the fact that millennials must deal with problems such as climate change. They need a strong voice and support in order to meet this challenge. Also, please send money. Every little bit helps.

He said he has a great team that plans his events. He and Pete try to be together several nights every week. He insists that he gets to go to homeless centers, to talk to teachers and to meet with veterans. This is a grassroots campaign and he is out there meeting with real people.

He shared two personal stories about Pete. The first involved a trip to the UP when they had a new hybrid car. Chasten and his Dad told Pete to get the “purple blinker fluid” at a gas station in the wilds of the UP. They could see him going up and down aisles looking for it before Chasten’s mom went to rescue Pete from the family jokesters. The next was how Pete remembered the anniversary of their first date that Chasten had completely forgotten. By the way, Chasten would love to be a Gryffindor but says he is really a Hufflepuff for all us Harry Potter fans.    

Chasten spoke about the intergenerational alliance that Pete is trying to forge. It is necessary to address the effects of climate change and tax cuts for the wealthy corporations. He did refer people to the website for the campaign to learn about Pete’s plans on issues. He said he would not speak for his husband but referred us to this resource.

The next question was the toughest. A person who had been on a panel in Susan Odgers’ class asked if he remembered that they had talked after the class. The memories of that challenging time moved Chasten to tears. He choked out that he NEVER TAKES A SINGLE DAY OF THIS LIFE FOR GRANTED. The discussion that day helped him face the difficulties of being a gay man and helped him survive to have this chance at life and love. He asked us all to applaud that person who had been honest and open when he and other people needed it. We were all standing and applauding, feeling the power that understanding the struggles of LGBTQ youth can bring.

Chasten said that Pete is studying multiple binders prepared for him to get ready for the debate. Chasten will be there and knows that Pete does well under pressure. Pete stays sane by reading scholarly books while Chasten doodles, plays Risk on his phone, or listens to audio books.

The final questioner asked Chasten to convince us that Pete Buttigieg can defeat Donald Trump. He answered that:

  1. Pete is in a faithful loving marriage. He said Trump…and gestured off to the side.
  2. Pete is well spoken and can think and explain his thinking and gestured to the other side.
  3. Pete is a stable well-educated person. No need for comparison there!
  4. Hope is harder to build but Pete is doing just that.

Chasten was breath of fresh air and hope. His abilities as a drama student and as a teacher make him perfectly comfortable on a stage. He is a symbol of the growth our country has experienced in welcoming all people. It was wonderful to spend an hour in his presence.


May 31, 2019

Report of Airport Commission Meetings


Citizens Taking Action in North West Michigan

Report: Airport Governance Advisory Committee and Airport Commission Tuesday May 28, 2019

Tuesday May 28, 2019

There were 2 meetings held on the same day with mostly the same people present. The first was almost 3 hours and started with a very informative tour of the airport behind the scenes. The next 2 hours were spent reviewing the various models of airport governance. This was done by the firm of Steven Baldwin Associates, Airport Management Consultants. They have been hired to educate the BOC and the Airport Commission about their options. And then probably write up the legal papers to complete the changes.

After an afternoon of discussion, I am going to summarize the issues.

  • The charter for the airport is about 30 years old and has many provisions that are not allowed in the FAA grants and loans. They need to be changed to be in compliance in order to apply for federal money, the major source of capital improvements.
  • One of the two models is a Commission with members appointed by the 2 counties, Leelanau and Grand Traverse, as is now the case. The charter agreement would be updated and it would continue much as it is now with a 7 member Commission.
  • The other major model is an Airport Authority. This would still be a board with locally appointed members.
  • They were asked if either or both models allow for the airport to purchase needed property without BOC consent. They seemed to reply that it depended on how the agreement was written.
  • Another concern was the liability of the counties if the airport went bankrupt. With an authority, the counties would not be liable. Currently under the existing agreement they are.
  • A member from Leelanau asked for a list of pros and cons for each model and this is supposed to be brought to the next meeting the 4th Tuesday of June at noon at the airport second floor.
  • My understanding is that either model may protect the counties from liability for debts if the agreement is written with that provision. However, no straight answer was given.
  • The same ambiguity exists for acquiring property.

The regular meeting had the good news that it is feasible to have a solar panel array that could supply the airport and TCL&P. They just completed the first phase of a study which has been going on for about 6 months. This study considered solar arrays of various sizes as well as geothermal sources of power. The commission has now authorized the second phase which will be setting up the bidding process for approximately 50 acres of solar panels and checking how this could integrate with TCL&P. The commissioners were very excited about the possibility of producing 10 Kilowatts on site.

They are also beginning a process of getting a specialized landing system (ILS) that will enable landings when the wind is from the east. A similar system is installed at the east end of the runway for west wind approaches. Currently they must reroute about 100 flights a year because the wind from the east makes the landing possibly unsafe. They have the infrastructure for this system from when they lengthened the runway. This may be a several year process to obtain the equipment but they are starting the plan now.

Most of the rest of the agenda was housekeeping types of resolutions and reports. One interesting point was that a commissioner suggested expanding the meeting room. Having an audience seems to resulting in them wanting more space.

My usual statement is that this is my understanding of the meeting and I could make a mistake in understanding something. But I am trying to be an outside set of eyes and ears.

Linda Pepper

May 30, 2019

Report on Ethics Committee meeting May 29th


Citizens Taking Action in North West Michigan

Report on AdHoc Committee on Ethics Grand Traverse Board of Commissioners

Wednesday May 29, 2019

Commissioners Clous (Chair), Jewett and Coffia are assigned to this committee

There was a draft ethics policy that was being discussed. There were several points of discussion:

  • Chair Clous was concerned that elected officials such as the sheriff or judges would not want to file such a business/financial disclosure annually as was being required.
  • The disclosure section calls for disclosing the person or spouse’s interest in unincorporated associations, trusts, corporations, business and real estate holdings.
  • If a person had more than 5 real estate holdings, they would list 5 and then just state that there were more holdings.
  • Jewett stated this information is “not anybody’s business”. Later he called it his personal business.
  • Coffia stated that as a taxpayer, it would increase trust to know what someone’s business interests were when they were making county financial decisions.
  • The disclosure section was removed and the conflict of interest sections was strengthened. All three voted for this because both actions were one motion.
  • There was quite a bit of discussion about an employee working in another job after hours. They decided to leave that up to a manager to approve.
  • They will work on a Board Rule to have every commissioner review the policies and then sign that they agree to disclose any conflict of interest and abide by the policy.

There was a discussion after the meeting was over about how a disclosure statement should be required when you file to run for an office. I completely agree with that. I would have been happy to do that. It would be a state law that requires this disclosure

Mr. Clous said several times that a commissioner can still vote even if s/he reveals that they have a conflict of interest. This seemed an odd focus to have.

He also said several times that the voters could throw him out if he violated their trust. The reality of our elections is that the violation has to be detected and widely advertised for any incumbent to not be reelected.

May 26, 2019

Column from the Northern Express

   MAY 26, 2019



There’s no denying that by traditional measures, the economy is doing fine. As of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is well over 25,000, unemployment remains very low, wages have begun rising, estimated GDP growth in the first quarter was 3.2% (though it’s expected to be revised slightly downward), neither inflation nor deflation are a problem, and personal bankruptcy filings are low. What’s not to love?
Plenty. Forty million Americans, including one in five children, live in poverty.On any one night there are more than a half-million homeless people sleeping in public places or shelters in the U.S. In Michigan, according to the United Way, 61% of jobs pay less than $20 an hour, and 1.66 million households, comprising 43% of the population, can’t afford basic household necessities.
Personal bankruptcies are down in part because the Affordable Care Act brought health insurance to millions. Obviously, that’s good. But Republicans are still trying to kill the ACA; if successful, they’ll throw millions of people off of health insurance, which will cause bankruptcy rates to rise again. Another reason personal bankruptcies are down is that a 2005 law made it harder to file; it appears that some who are insolvent don’t have enough assets to bother protecting them, can’t afford the fees and costs, or don’t know how to navigate the process.
Young people are staggering under a cumulative $1.5 trillion of student loan debt. Life expectancies are decreasing, largely because of the increase in “deaths of despair” — drug overdoses, suicide, and liver disease from alcohol use. People live in fear of incurring prescription drug bills not sufficiently covered by their insurance. People have died while trying to ration their supply of insulin.
Farm income dropped substantially in the first quarter. Trump’s tariffs destroyed markets for some U.S. farmers while simultaneously raising the cost of farm machinery. Current immigration policies have contributed to a shortage of farm labor. More family farms are going bankrupt and being bought up by big agribusiness.
More of the recent corporate tax cut was used to finance stock buybacks, rather than for capital investment or job creation; that raised stock prices, providing a kind of sugar high that we can’t afford to maintain. The Trump tax bill also contributed to what by 2020 will be an annual deficit of over a trillion dollars. If a major correction or recession happens soon, we won’t be able to afford the stimulus spending we might need to get the economy back on track. Meanwhile, our infrastructure is falling apart.
And perhaps worst of all, economic mobility in America has been slowing for some time now. The days when you could expect your kids to do better than you seem to be over for mainstream America. For many, the American Dream is slipping out of reach.
Of course the ultra-wealthy are doing fine. While some amount of economic inequality is normal, what we have now is over the top. Reportedly the top one percent have as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Many CEOs make hundreds of times what their employees make. Some get huge bonuses and “golden parachutes,” even when the companies they lead are laying off workers or failing. We have become a two-track economy: the very rich, and everyone else.
This state of affairs isnotthe result of the natural workings of a free market. The ultra-wealthy are ultra-influential, and they use their influence to write the rules for their own benefit, while the rest of us lack sufficient representation in Washington. Some billionaire hedge-fund managers pay taxes at the same rate as their secretaries. How does that make sense? In 2008, when the economy collapsed, who got bailed out? Homeowners? Nah. Big banks. Middle-class folks got a tiny tax cut in 2018, while the Koch brothers picked up a billion dollars a year. If you paidanyfederal income tax at all in 2018, you paid more than Amazon did.  
What can we do? Give the middle class a real tax cut, and raise taxes on the wealthy. Raise the minimum wage. Create an infrastructure modernization program, including development of renewable energy, because we need it, and because it could generate thousands of good paying jobs. Move toward universal health insurance by beefing up the ACA or gradually phasing in some version of Medicare For All. Give Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices. Invest more in early childhood education and public schools, to give all kids a better chance at success. Invest in job training. Raise the income limit on Social Security tax to keep the program solvent. Rein in corporate welfare. And so on.
To get much of this sort of thing done — if we are to again have a government that pays more attention to the needs of ordinary citizens than to the demands of big donors — we’ll have to get big money out of politics, end gerrymandering, and protect every citizen’s right to vote. Not easy tasks, but doable if enough people stand up for a revival of grass roots democracy in America.
Tom Gutowski earned degrees in economics and history before entering the insurance industry, from which he retired after 36 years.

May 24, 2019

New website

We are going to be revising this website. We hope to consolidate all local Indivisibles into one site. That includes Indivisible Traverse City, Indivisible Grand Traverse and Leelanau Indivisible.

August 20, 2018

August 19, 2018 Indivisible TC Meeting Notes

August 19, 2018 Indivisible TC Meeting Notes

  • Actions and Events:
  • Tuesday, August 21, 6-8pm. Town Hall with Dan O’Neil and Jocelyn Benson. Scholars Hall, NMC.
  • Tuesday, August 21, 1:15pm.  Meeting of the Concerned Citizens for Fair Broadcasting. UU Any interested Indivisible members are welcome to attend.
  • Wednesday, August 22, 6-8pm. Meet and Greet Dan and Matt. Rare Bird Brew Pub, TC.
  • Monday, August 27, 5pm. Matt Morgan’s Birthday Bash. Mt. Holiday.  $20/person, $40/family.
  • Sunday, September 1, Come to the shores of Grand Traverse Bay in solidarity with the 4th Annual Pipe Out Paddle Protest(at the Straits of Mackinac) for a paddle down the Boardman River and flotilla in West Bay.  9:00 AM– Meet at Union Street Dam Park and paddle down the Boardman River and into Lake Michigan. 10:00 AM– Meet at the Clinch Park Boat Launch and form a flotilla in West Bay. Non-boaters can meet at either location or join at Clinch Park Beach with a sign. Please wear a black shirt if possible. Sponsored by NMEAC.
  • Wednesday, September 6, 6pm. Professor Mathew Fletcher (Michigan State University College of Law and Director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center) will speak about the legal history of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. Leland Library. Presented by Leelanau Indivisible.
  • Saturday, September 8, 1pm. Rally for Climate, Jobs, Justice (a national event).  Open Space. Co-sponsored by NMEAC. Holly Bird and Percy Bird are guest speakers. 
  • Monday, September 10, 10:30am-12:30M. Writing post cards for Linda Pepper, at her home: 4306 Central Park Dr. Lunch and beverages provided. RSVP Linda (text or call 269-254-1603).
  • Wednesday, October 3, 10am for 2-4 hours.  Writing letters for Linda at Fellowship Hall, Interlochen.  Again, lunch and beverages provided. RSVP Linda.
  • Discussion
  1. Jim Page, our Democratic candidate for Michigan State Senator in the 37th district, presented his biography, explained his views and policy positions, and asked us to help him get elected.  After serving 6 years as a Marine, he spent 27 years teaching math and computer science in an Upper Peninsula middle school.  He is a Sierra Club member, sportsman and gun owner.  His positions are in keeping with a progressive agenda. He believes high quality education is of the utmost importance, and he supports the shutdown of Line 5, insuring clean drinking water for all, a livable minimal wage, protecting Michigan jobs and workers, and single payer health care for all. He will work to pass sensible gun laws, believing that there is no reason to allow military-style weapon sales to the public. A key difference between him and his Republican opponent, is that he will strongly support environmental protection, while Wayne Schmidt has consistently voted to allow industry control over our environmental laws. 

2. Emily Magner, the new northern Michigan coordinator of the League of Conservation Voters reported on her background and recent experience working for Planned Parenthood in Maine, where she was part of a team that went door-to-door to have deep discussions with voters.  She felt by first finding common ground through discussing the shared human values of caring, fairness, safety, and sanctity, she was able to hold meaningful discussions and in many cases, shift people’s political views. She is looking forward to organizing a similar effort here.

3.  Emma Jabour, the outreach liaison for Matt Morgan’s campaign, introduced herself. Individuals or groups hoping to get involved with Matt’s campaign can contact her at

4. Ted gave an update on the group involved with the Sinclair issues, the Concerned Citizens for Fair Broadcasting  As the proposed merger of Sinclair and Tribune Media is now not likely to occur, both the rally and the gatherings outside of Huntington Bank are no longer taking place. This group will meet on Tuesday at the UU at 1:15pm to decide its next steps, which will most likely involve helping to get our local political candidates elected.  The group may go to candidates to inform them about the Sinclair issue and to ask them not to spend their advertising dollars with Sinclair. 

5. Lynn announced that she will retire from being the indivisible TC leader after the November election.  A discussion about the future of Indivisible TC followed, including whether to join forces with Indivisible GT.  IGT is not interested in formally merging, but those interested in attending their Tuesday noon meetings at the TC UU are welcome.  The Leelanau Indivisible group also welcomes our participation. The values, policy interests and actions are already shared by all three groups.  Members are also strongly encouraged to engage directly with any of the progressive candidates’ campaigns and to work toward passage of the VNP and Promote the Vote proposals.  

III. Adjournmant:

The meeting was adjourned at 11:30am. Thank you to everyone who attended. The next meeting of Indivisible TC will be on Sunday, September 16 at the Workshop Brewery at 10am. The dates of further future meetings will be decided then. 

Respectfully submitted,

Bill Gittlen, Secretary.

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