Seeing the forest, and paying.

One of the things that drives me nuttiest about the anti-government movement in this country is its easy assumption that all those who do work for the public are, at heart and at the root, Evil. Exhibit A: The woods of Huntington Woods.

Here we have a tiny (1.6 square mile) suburb that would likely be called “leafy,” mainly because it is. It’s Huntington Woods, after all. See if you can follow this: In 2007, the city does a survey to develop a community master plan. How do you feel about trees? the city asks. Ninety-six percent — 96! percent! — says yay trees. The next question: Would you support an ordinance to protect them? Ninety-one percent says hell yes. So in June the city passes an ordinance that discourages people from removing trees that aren’t diseased or dying. It’s patterned after one that already exists in 13 communities. Requires inspections and fines. And…

On June 17, Huntington Woods’ five-member city commission unanimously passed the new tree protection ordinance, Sullivan said.

It amended the city’s code of ordinances to require permits for cutting down trees — something that previously wasn’t on the books, she said.

The city only keeps permit fees of homeowners removing mature, healthy trees; it returns fees for removing dead or dying trees, according to the city manager.

I know you know what’s coming next: A citizen who says, like Madeline, “something is not right!”

“My personal feeling is they shouldn’t be able to tell us that we can’t take down any tree on our property,” said Iversen. “It’s ridiculous.”

Yes, it’s a property-rights activist who had determined that if she should want to take down her sycamore, it would cost her a lot, even though the sycamore is fine and yadda yadda principle of the thing.

It’s stories like this that make me heave a deep sigh. There’s a lot of this sort of thing locally — the endless surveys, the consensus-building that sometimes turns an entire administration into a finger in the wind, stripped of leadership. But I get why they do it, and when you get two surveys that show more than 90 percent of respondents are Pro-Tree, it shouldn’t be this complicated.

And yet it is. And somewhere out there, an eagle-eyed citizen is ready to upset the apple cart.

You wonder why anyone runs for a local office, with rewards like this waiting for them.

And so another week has collapsed under the collective weight of the work we’ve done, and a weekend awaits. Wait, did that sound grim? I didn’t mean it to. It’s just been a week. A little bloggage:

It’s not the Trayvon Martin Trial, part 2. This thoughtful Brian Dickerson column explains why.

Why do we say “big brown dog” instead of “brown big dog?” The semiotics of adjectives, for you language geeks.

Finally, oil and gas drilling (tries to) comes to the last, 49-acre stand of virgin white pine in Michigan.

A good weekend, all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Detroit life |

40 responses to “Seeing the forest, and paying.”

  1. Deborah said on August 8, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Reading the article about drilling under those virgin pines is familiar. We’re fighting fracking north of Abiquiu about 45 Miles on BLM land. It makes absolutely no sense in drought stricken NM if for no other reason than the outrageous use of water. Not to mention the problems it can cause with the aquifers. It’s just crazy. What is wrong with people who think that’s OK?

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  2. Sherri said on August 8, 2014 at 3:08 am

    People are Pro-Tree when it comes to your tree, not as much when it comes to their tree. In other words, they want that nice leafy suburb to remain a nice leafy suburb, but they want to be able to do whatever they want.

    I’ve attended both city council meetings and school board meetings, and while school board meetings can attract some cranks, nothing attracts cranks and loonies like city council meetings.

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  3. Deborah said on August 8, 2014 at 5:46 am

    I meant to say, 45 miles north. Don’t you hate it when you notice hours later that you made a typo?

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  4. Jolene said on August 8, 2014 at 6:02 am

    Great article re the sequencing of adjectives. Am always fascinated by how much of what we know about how to use language is never formally taught or studied.

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  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 8, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Semiotics. Some of my favorite classes in college. That’s a great article; hat tip to the proprietor and to Mr. Dickerson. (I ended up going into hermeneutics full time, close enough.)

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  6. alex said on August 8, 2014 at 8:16 am

    The crank from Huntington Woods probably had the bees planted in her too-tight bonnet by the same sort of people who want to drill for oil under the pines or frack in Abiquiu. It’s essentially the same argument laid out by one of Nancy’s former colleagues, a self-styled libertarian, who once wrote (and I paraphrase) “Why do we have such a thing as national parks? Why isn’t all property private property? Why can a small group of snotty elitists decide that a piece of land should be preserved for public use at taxpayer expense when it could be turned over to private industry and generate money and create jobs?” I seem to recall it was an opinion piece about whether the coal industry should have been allowed to mine in a public preserve in southern Indiana.

    Roger Ailes and the Koch brothers have been advancing this line of thinking for years and it trickles down to the dumbest asses in everyone’s neighborhood.

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  7. Basset said on August 8, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Sherry, one thing I’ve learned in 17 years of government work… if the phone rings and the first words out of the caller’s mouth are “I’m a taxpayer” or “I’m retired” you’re probably gonna get an earful.

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  8. coozledad said on August 8, 2014 at 9:19 am
    Jumping in Gomorrah evangelically.
    Bring your St. Bernard
    some Astroglide and a whippet
    I got a pocket full of doggie treats
    in case you wants me to tip it!

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  9. brian stouder said on August 8, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Agreed (with Mr Dickerson) that the recently concluded court case was not Trayvon-II; the particulars were quite different.

    But from the cheap seats, the two cases had one inescapable (and potentially explosive) parallel: a jury was being tasked with deciding whether a white guy with a firearm was justified in killing a black person who had done nothing wrong.

    I got the very distinct impression that the Florida/Trayvon jurors were conscious of how they would be viewed after their verdict, by their peers; that they were almost driven to their verdict by that consideration.

    Probably the Michigan jurors had similar considerations, and their peers are simply more reasonable than the suburban Floridian folks are.

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  10. adrianne said on August 8, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Bassett, my favorite response to the “I’m a taxpayer” line comes from an old pal, Chris the Cop. He frequently heard the comment, “You know, I pay your salary” when on duty in Syracuse, N.Y. His response? “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about getting a raise.”

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  11. Judybusy said on August 8, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Oh, the tree ordinance story is so timely. About 10 days a go, a new neighbor across the alley cut down a huge, gorgeous, maple tree. The stump (which we mourned over) was easily 4′ across We learned from her next door neighbors that she cut it down because she wanted to grow fruit trees. My response: “Want to grow fruit trees? Buy a house with a sunny yard!” I have looked at that tree for 17 years, enjoying its wide canopy which provided so much shade for our home in the morning. Now the view to the east is so empty, and now we notice all the electrical wires which had been camoflaged.

    This woman is a bit of a nutter: another neighbor placed one bag of lawn waste by her garage because it’s a flat piece of ground, and her own space slopes. This woman put a typed note on the bag in 25-pt. font informing this miscreant that this was illegal, and that the city would come to their home and pick up the bag. We later learned she also called the police! Imagine taking that call. My good neighbor, who is about the sweetest person imaginable, did go talk to the weirdo and explained why she’d done this terrible act.

    I’m still upset about losing the tree, and reading this article has re-activated all my feelings! Also, the people pushing for the ordinance change of course have no intention of removing any trees on their property. As Nancy said, PRINCIPLES! I wonder if they would get so up in arms about fracking in the back yard, as Deborah’s having to deal with. Now that is something to get angry about.

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  12. Connie said on August 8, 2014 at 9:57 am

    You wonder why anyone runs for a local office, with rewards like this waiting for them.

    In my career as a Library Director I am a public official, so I have some sense of how weird public opinion can be on things like this. And I am so thankful that others in my community will run for and fill what I view as thankless elected positions. So thankful that I occasionally actually thank them for doing it. Local and state both.

    I am in the early stages of planning a new library building. Our site was originally one of the Dodge Parks, a series of state park property donated by the Dodge Brothers in the 1920s. The property is filled with gorgeous massive hardwood trees and we are trying to site the building in such a way as to cut down as few trees as possible. The CCC plantings are in a different part of the park.

    So I asked my construction manager how much it was going to cost us to take down those trees. He gave me a funny look and told me he could get business to pay US to take down the trees.

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  13. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 8, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Chairing our village Board of Zoning & Building Appeals, I’ve twice seen in six years a person come in, work to block a neighbor doing something fairly innocuous, then come in within the next year wanting to do the same thing themselves. And the looks I get when I asked in each case “so, how does this request for variance square with your opposition to one by a neighbor a few months ago?” And they give me looks to curdle yogurt, and spit out “this has nothing to do with that.”

    And usually the law director leans over and whispers to me “easy there, cowboy.” And we grant their dang variance. The reason I stay in the post is that there are so many opportunities to actually get neighbors to speak to each other and reach accomodation . . . but regularly you get requests or objections from people who are beyond both reason and rationality.

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  14. brian stouder said on August 8, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Just read Cooz’s link…aye yi yi!

    And they don’t even tell us what else the guy was soliciting!!

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  15. Deborah said on August 8, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Did you know that a single fracking well uses 2 to 8 million gallons of water during it’s use and there are usually 20 or so wells per pad and multiple pads in an operation? Do the math and it’s mine boggling. The water gets hauled to the site on big tanker trucks that weigh 60,000 lbs if memory serves. Then the contaminated water has to be hauled out again, cleaned and disposed of. We’re talking tens of thousands of truck trips on the roads. How can any of that justify doing it? And as I said that’s just one of the problems. There’s also the use of toxic chemicals and earthquake risks too. I’m retired and I’m a taxpayer and I ready to call a few people and give them an earful.

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  16. Deborah said on August 8, 2014 at 10:52 am

    I’m ready not I ready dang it.

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  17. Deborah said on August 8, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Its use not it’s use, double dang it.

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  18. Minnie said on August 8, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Thanks be for the article on adjective order. I am sick and tired (tired and sick) of hypocrisy, hate, and most humans.

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  19. Danny said on August 8, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Peshaw!!! This whole study of ordering of adjectives is completely derivative and unnecessary. Everything we needed to know about this subject was already codified within the song, “Itsy Bitsy, Teenie Weenie, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.”

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  20. alex said on August 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    I just read about someone having thrombosed gangrenous hemorrhoids, also described elsewhere as thrombosed necrotic hemorrhoids.

    Why thrombosed before gangrenous? Hemorrhoids can be thrombosed without being gangrenous but not the other way around, so it would make sense to call them gangrenous thrombosed hemorrhoids, no?

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  21. Deborah said on August 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Gross, Alex

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  22. brian stouder said on August 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    That post will go down in the annals of nn.c history – living on long after our tongues are all thrombosed

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  23. Deborah said on August 8, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    We just got back from a pleasant lunch with my husband’s sister and brother-in-law in a place called Santa Cafe. Lovely, except because of my antibiotics I couldn’t have wine or any dairy products, it was hard to find something without cheese. Plus we walked and I had to be covered from head to toe, including a wide brimmed hat because of susceptibility of sunburn as a result of these meds. I don’t ever remember ever having this many restrictions for an antibiotic. It’s called Cipro and Little Bird told me it’s what is used when people have Anthrax.

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  24. Deborah said on August 8, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Is today the 40th anniversary of Nixon quitting? I know I’ve been reading a lot about it lately but not sure of the actual date. Here’s a piece Huner S. Thompson wrote at the time of Nixon’s death which pretty much sums it up

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  25. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 9, 2014 at 12:12 am

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  26. Dexter said on August 9, 2014 at 12:49 am

    Deborah, that’s right, it’s the RX for anthrax. My dad had pancreatic duct surgery when he was 59, got a bad infection, almost died, and Cipro pulled him out of the problem. He lived another 27 years.

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  27. Jolene said on August 9, 2014 at 9:19 am

    I had to take Cipro and some other killer antibiotic when I had epiglottitis. Very unpleasant digestive system effects. I don’t envy you, Deborah.

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  28. Deborah said on August 9, 2014 at 9:32 am

    That Nixon resignation speech reenactment was terrific Jeff, thanks!

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  29. coozledad said on August 9, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Beth Ethier is just killing this:

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  30. Sherri said on August 9, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    One of those “what were they thinking” moments:

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  31. coozledad said on August 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    The party of sociopaths:

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  32. brian stouder said on August 9, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    The Beth Ethier piece is genuinely good stuff. Ms Maddow has been all over Governor Bob and the snake-oil salesman, but I did like the Wonkette piece

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  33. Dorothy said on August 10, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Today would have been my brother Joe’s 40th wedding anniversary. But thank God he divorced that nasty woman a long time ago. So Nixon’s resignation figures prominently in my memory. I just can’t be sure which day it wax exactly , Deborah. I was16 and a bridesmaid. My attention was elsewhere those couple of days.

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  34. coozledad said on August 10, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Songbird says what? Isn’t this the same choad who was photographed in a circle jerk with ISIS?

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  35. brian stouder said on August 10, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    John McCain is like a pile of dead leaves.

    Once worthwhile, but now nothing but (intellectual) debris, awaiting physical decomposition before again becoming worthwhile

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  36. Deborah said on August 10, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    But McCain doesn’t mention that if we’d never gotten involved in Iraq in the first place … Many people predicted that it would be nothing but problems if we got involved in 2003. Funny how he only goes back as far as Obama’s admin.

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  37. Jolene said on August 10, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    I’m generally a fan of the news and like watching political talk shows, but there is no better sign of the laziness of media people than the frequent appearances of McCain and Lindsey Graham on those shows. You don’t have to pay a great deal of attention to know that there are lots of people who know more than they do about the politics of the Middle East and could use the airtime to educate rather than to bash the president with the same tired points.

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  38. Jolene said on August 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    The people who run the Humans of New York web site have just launched a world tour in connection with the UN. Seems to be a sort of consciousness-raising exercise in relation to the UN’s Millenial Development Goals. They’ve started in Erbil, Iraq, the city that the Kurdish pesh merga is currently defending.

    They’ve posted some great photos. They are not war photos, but some deal with people who’ve been driven from their homes. Others convey the idea that, until now, Erbil has been a place of relative peace and prosperity. So, it’s humans of Iraq. Worth a look. They have a Facebook page too. Should be interesting to see the photos from the rest of their tour.

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  39. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 10, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Hey, Deborah, a shot on NPR from a Ghost Ranch perspective looking east towards your back yard . . . I’d love to be there just to smell the sage & juniper & piñon after the rain.

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  40. Deborah said on August 11, 2014 at 12:02 am

    I know Jeff, we saw that on the NPR site too. Kurt Kempter, the guy quoted was going to purchase some land adjacent to ours in Abiquiu but decided to buy a little further away. He’s a fabulous photographer, among his other skills. Our land out there has never looked so green, in the 14 years since we’ve owned it. We have amazing numbers of wild flowers now that we’ve never seen there before. We know this is an anomaly though, it won’t last but we are enjoying it while it does.

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