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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Calumet Players to present "The Music Man" Sept. 12, 17, 18, 19

The Calumet Players' "Music Man" quartet and Mollie Trewartha, right, perform "Lida Rose" at the Aug. 31 ethnic variety show, "Celebrating Keweenaw's Musical Roots," at the Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne's. Members of the quartet are, from left, Pete Manderfield, Ralph Horvath, Ross Coltman and Mike Aubin. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

CALUMET -- The Calumet Players are celebrating their 30th year with the play that got them started, Meredith Wilson's "The Music Man." It is being performed at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Saturday, Sept. 12, and next Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 17, 18 and 19, at the Calumet Theatre.

The show is under the direction of Sara Perfetti. Vocal Director is Joan Petrelius, and Orchestral Director Tom Maksimchuck.

Tickets are $15, reserved seating, available at the Calumet Theatre Box office: 906.337.2610. For more information visit the Calumet Players Web site.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Labor Day TEA Party draws crowd to protest, defend healthcare reform

By Michele Bourdieu

Opponents of healthcare reform bow their heads in prayer at the beginning of the "TEA Party" program on Labor Day, Sept. 7, 2009, at Veterans' Park in Houghton. The event was sponsored by Concerned Citizens of the U.P. (CCUP).* (Photo © 2009 Brian Rendel. Reprinted with permission.)

HOUGHTON -- Carrying signs, waving flags and singing patriotic songs, a conservative group calling itself Concerned Citizens of the U.P. (CCUP) -- opponents of healthcare reform -- walked across the Portage Lift Bridge from Hancock to Veterans' Park in Houghton on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7, for a "TEA Party" gathering of speeches, prayers, songs and demonstrations of solidarity in their common cause.*

Mary Sears, right, CCUP chair, introduces speakers at the Labor Day TEA Party at Veterans' Park in Houghton. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Also gathered in the park were local residents favoring healthcare reform, who stood peacefully with their own signs in a counter-demonstration.

Pro-healthcare-reform supporters hold a peaceful counter-demonstration during the CCUP anti-healthcare-reform rally on Labor Day at Veterans' Park in Houghton. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

State Rep. Mike Lahti (D-Hancock) was on hand to greet constituents and listen to what they had to say.

"It's good that people who are concerned about issues in government that affect them come out and talk about it -- express their opinions and ask questions of legislators," Lahti said. "Today we've got people demonstrating against change in healthcare and others demonstrating peacefully in favor of healthcare reform."

State Rep. Mike Lahti (D-Hancock), right, chats with Keweenaw County Commissioner Don Keith, Republican of Eagle Harbor, during the CCUP Rally at Veterans' Park. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Nearby a group of children dressed in Pilgrim costumes, others in military uniforms and some dressed to represent the Revolutionary War era marched up the hill from the bridge carrying signs. Copies of the U.S. Constitution were handed out to people arriving at the park for the speeches, which began around 12:30 p.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance, prayers and references to the "spirit of our founding fathers."

Youth dressed in period costumes recalling both the Pilgrims and the American Revolutionaries march across the Portage Lift Bridge and up the hill to Veterans' Park, carrying signs critical of the Obama administration. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Lahti commented on the historical improvements to the Constitution since the original one was written by those founding fathers.

"Back then you couldn't vote if you were a woman. Negroes were (considered) three fifths of a person," he noted.

Keweenaw County Commissioner Don Keith (R-Eagle Harbor) chatted with Lahti and mingled with the crowd.

"I'm still listening," Keith said. "I've come to hear other people expressing their concerns."

Some children dressed in military uniforms for the event. Speeches at the rally included not only concerns about government spending for healthcare, but also support of the right to bear arms and tributes to veterans. (Photo © 2009 Allan Baker. Reprinted with permission)

Some former Republican candidates who lost the race for U.S. Representative of Michigan's First District, the office now held by Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee), talked about why they both opposed Stupak in the last election.

Linda Goldthorpe of Newberry said she wasn't discouraged by the size of the First District -- "the second-largest Congressional district in the country," with 31 counties. She wanted and still wants to take Stupak's seat.

"I'm basically pro-life libertarian," Goldthorpe said. "I think both parties have gone away from the people."

Tom Casperson, a Republican candidate who defeated Goldthorpe and ran against Stupak in 2008, said his main issue is big government; but both he and Goldthorpe commented on Stupak's 72 percent rating by the National Right to Life (anti-abortion) Committee as being unsatisfactory.

"He (Stupak) said his record was distorted," Casperson said.

"Healthcare reform needs to happen, but not the way they're doing it," Casperson said. "Don't put 'may' and 'shall' in the bill if it's meant to make it vague. Someone's going to have to interpret it."

Casperson said, as an example, that the bill needs to be clear on whether it is funding abortion.**

"People didn't get to discuss the 1000-page bill (HB 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act)," Casperson noted.

Among the people holding signs supporting healthcare reform was Randall Freisinger of Houghton.

"I'm here to show support for universal health care and also to counter the number of what appear to be staged demonstrations that would suggest that ordinary Americans are opposed to health care," Freisinger said.

Randall Freisinger, right, of Houghton holds a sign supporting healthcare reform. On his right, Jill Bergland of Houghton displays her sign that says, "Compassionate Christians Support Health Care for All!" Also pictured in the group of counter-demonstrators are Anton Pintar, far left, Houghton County Commissioner for District 3, and Barbara Manninen of Hancock. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Jill Burkland of Houghton held a sign that said, "Compassionate Christians Support Health Care for All!"

"Compassionate Christians" are "myself and other people like me who want to remind people that Jesus stood up for the poor, the sick, the hungry, children," Burkland explained. "We need to take care of the people of this country. I'm really bothered by the selfishness of people. They're only interested in their own pocketbook and not in the welfare of the people."

Anti-reform supporters carry anti-government, pro-tax-cut signs as they listen to speakers at the rally. (Photo © 2009 Allan Baker. Reprinted with permission)

A sign of one of the anti-reform marchers "Washington, God Does Have the Final Word" brought to mind a question on separation of church and state, to which Donnis Schrader of Freda, who carried the sign, gave a firm reply.

"I don't think there is such a thing as separation of church and state," Schrader said.

Donnis Schrader of Freda carries a sign with a message for federal government officials. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Houghton County Commissioner Anton Pintar (Democrat, District 3) stood with other pro-reform demonstrators during the rally, with a sign showing Democrats support healthcare.

"We're here today just to show there's support for healthcare reform," Pintar said.

He added he was not surprised at the large turnout of anti-reform people for the rally (WLUC-TV6 in Marquette estimated the crowd at more than 400).

"Hopefully the level of discussion here will be on a rational basis and counteract the misinformation and lies that are out there," Pintar said.

An example he gave was the idea held by some anti-reform people that the government would create "death panels" to decide who among senior citizens should be allowed to live.

"One of their objectives is to generate fear," Pintar said.

At least one family in the audience seemed to believe such misinformation, judging from their sign suggesting healthcare reform could "kill Grandma."

John Leinonen of Calumet, holding this sign, said, "They're gonna have people before boards when they're older."

His father, Jerry Leinonen of Calumet, added, "They're going to cut off care to the elderly."

John Leinonen holds a sign that reflects the message he learned from a Christian radio station -- that healthcare reform will endanger the lives of senior citizens. Also pictured are his father, Jerry Leinonen, left, and his sister, Amy Leinonen, pointing to the sign. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

When asked the source of their information, John Leinonen said they had heard this on a Christian radio station.

(President Barack Obama assured Congress in his speech Wednesday night, Sept. 9, that his plan for healthcare reform does not include government boards that would kill off senior citizens. "It is a lie, plain and simple," Obama said.)

John's sister, Amy Leinonen of Houghton, said she agreed with some of what her father and brother believed.

"I just wanted to see what it was like," Amy said, explaining why she was attending the rally. "So much is going over there (for war) that they don't have enough money for health care. Obama doesn't seem like he has much experience in being a leader."

However, Amy said she did not have health insurance and "probably" would sign up for a government plan if it were available.

Some senior citizens who benefit from the existing government plan -- Medicare -- still criticize the idea of government funding for healthcare reform.

"We want to keep America the way it's always been," said Don Britz of Houghton. "We're not for change at all."

Britz, who receives Medicare, added, "I don't think I'd support it if we didn't have it."***

Susan Rokicki of Calumet said she came to the rally thinking it was more of a discussion.

"I thought it was a discussion on healthcare reform and that people would be attempting to talk about this with each other and share healthcare experiences," Rokicki said. "It's not happening. Only one viewpoint has been expressed here."

If there was discussion among people of different opinions, it may have been between individuals in the audience. The speakers did not invite comments from the pro-reform supporters.

Joe Hernandez of the Michigan Tech Democrats speaks to the media about the reason supporters of healthcare industry reform showed up at the TEA Party.**** (Photo© 2009 Brian Rendel)

Joanne Thomas of Allouez commented on the anti-reform people who complained about the government spending money on healthcare.

"Where was this kind of concern for government spending before Bush's invasion of Iraq, which has drained our treasury?" Thomas noted.

Young people in military uniforms relax on the hill at Veterans' Park during the TEA Party on Labor Day 2009. The anti-taxation TEA group's signs and speeches did not seem critical of the high cost of the Iraq War. (Photo © 2009 Allan Baker. Reprinted with permission.)

Dr. Pichai Sripaipan of Houghton said he came to listen to what the speakers had to say.

"Certainly health care is getting more expensive," he said.

He attributed the rise in cost to two main factors: the high cost of medical technology and the legal system that obliges doctors to practice defensive medicine, for fear of lawsuits. Under the present system doctors order a lot of tests to be sure they have covered all possibilities. If a doctor does not order a certain test and the patient goes to another doctor who does order the test and then finds something wrong, the first doctor may be sued for neglect, Sripaipan explained.

He said he had not read the entire 1000-page House Bill 3200 on health care, but believed it needs to be re-written.

Sripaipan, an orthopedic surgeon, said he would not be in favor of a government plan that restricted certain operations to younger patients, for example, paying for a hip replacement for a 40-year-old but not an 80-year-old person.

Editor's Notes: * T.E.A. in the context of the TEA Party stands for "Taxed Enough Already," and refers also to the Boston Tea Party, a revolutionary protest against taxes. In April 2009 these TEA Parties were held to protest the stimulus package. They are usually locally organized and nationally coordinated by anti-government groups.

** In his speech to Congress Wednesday night, Sept. 9, Obama said, "under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions."

*** In his Sept. 9 speech, Obama said also that Medicare "remains a sacred trust that must be passed down from one generation to the next. And that is why not a dollar of the Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for this plan. The only thing this plan would eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, as well as unwarranted subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies -- subsidies that do everything to pad their profits but don't improve the care of seniors. And we will also create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts charged with identifying more waste in the years ahead."

Read President Obama's Sept. 9, 2009, speech on healthcare to the joint session of Congress on the White House Web site.

**** See the TV 6 (WLUC) videoclip of the Houghton TEA Party, including Joe Hernandez's statement and a statement by CCUP Chair Mary Sears.

U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak released a radio statement after President Obama's speech.

This is the fourth in our series of articles on the healthcare reform issue.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Closing reception for artist Derek Guthrie to be held Sept. 10 at Finlandia Gallery

HANCOCK -- Derek Guthrie, British artist, art critic and co-founder of the influential art magazine New Art Examiner, premieres his artwork in the United States at the Finlandia University Gallery, Hancock.

The artist Derek Guthrie. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)

The exhibit is the first of Guthrie’s artwork in decades. Featured at the gallery until Sept. 11, the exhibit comprises work created since 1995.

In 1973, Guthrie and his wife, Jane Addams Allen, founded the New Art Examiner in Chicago. Known for decades in Chicago for his work in art criticism, Guthrie is credited with having helped introduce a new set of writers that would become prominent in their field.

After retiring from his career at the Examiner in 2001, Guthrie and his wife moved to Cornwall, England, where he began to paint again after a hiatus of many years.

Trees of Mourning II, 15.3"x 19.7", 2003, by Derek Guthrie.

"I returned to Cornwall with my late wife, Jane Addams Allen," Guthrie writes in an essay for a catalog of his work. "This also marked a retreat from our public life as art critics; we were worn out."

In 2004, Guthrie’s wife died after a long struggle with illness. "This work addresses that coming to terms with a new life in Cornwall, Jane’s death and my subsequent survival," Guthrie writes. "I drew strength from the landscape and the mighty force of the sea."

Untitled, 1998, by Derek Guthrie.

A closing reception for the artist will take place at the gallery from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10. An artist talk will begin at 7:15 p.m.

Michigan Technological University will also sponsor a lecture by the artist at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 14, at the MTU Forestry Building Auditorium, Houghton.

The exhibit of work by Derek Guthrie is sponsored by the Finlandia University Gallery, the Finlandia University Campus Enrichment Committee and Michigan Technological University.

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; or by appointment. Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day Rally to show local support for healthcare reform

HOUGHTON -- At noon on Monday, Sept. 7 (Labor Day), a group called Concerned Citizens of the U.P. will be marching from Hancock, across the Portage Lift Bridge to Veterans' Park in Houghton, proclaiming their message of anti-healthcare-reform.

Local progressives plan to welcome the concerned citizens with messages of hope and progress when they reach Veterans' Park on the Houghton side of the bridge. All progressive citizens of Houghton County are welcome to join them in sending a clear message that healthcare reform is welcome in Houghton County.

Fellow progressives may want to bring signs supporting health insurance/industry reform, advocating single-payer healthcare plans, supporting progressive leaders and offering messages of hope and progress. Contact Brian Isaksson and Joseph Hernandez ( who have received assurance by the Houghton City Police Department that this counter-demonstration is permitted.