How to Change Manistique's Failed and
Dangerous Burning Barrel Policy

At the Manistique City Council meeting of 04/24/06, I submitted the following 
(without the minor edits of spelling, fact and syntax, in this version) as 
my initial public comments regarding the agenda item considering a draft of a 
proposed ordinance to license burning barrels, and other forms of "outdoor 
burning", within the city limits of Manistique:

Reading the draft ordinance concerning the burning of trash and garbage within 
the city limits of Manistique, I reached a number of conclusions:

1. Apparently, City Council committee members, Tim Noble and Chris Rantanan, 
representing the best interests of Manistique city residents while drafting a 
burning ordinance, consider it appropriate to license the poisoning of a 
majority of city residents, by a minority.

2. Apparently, City Council committee members, Tim Noble and Chris Rantanan, 
who helped to create the draft, consider it appropriate that a resident should 
purchase a $10 permit for the privilege of relinquishing a basic principal of 
due process of law by allowing armed city police officials to conduct arbitrary 
inspections of private property, on private property.

3. Apparently, City Council committee members, Tim Noble and Chris Rantanan, 
who helped to create the draft, consider inconsequential, the scientifically 
established links between various cancers and other inhaled chemical caused 
diseases, intimately related to the chemical content of the gases, vapors, and 
particulate matter, from burning trash.

4. Apparently, City Council committee members, Tim Noble and Chris Rantanan, 
who helped to create the draft, consider irrelevant a significant community 
concern, voiced in a recent survey, regarding the incidence of various cancers 
in the community.

5. Apparently, City Council committee members, Tim Noble and Chris Rantanan, 
who helped to create the draft, consider the move, by most cities, to outlaw 
incinerators and open burning, to be the consequence of ignorance and stupidity 
among the leaders of those communities.

6. Apparently, City Council committee members, Tim Noble and Chris Rantanan, 
who helped to create the draft, consider a vocal and bullying minority of city 
residents, have, because of their strident public position, the right to 
intimidate their neighbours and impose their will upon them through a self 
serving City Council, the majority of whom appear to have no grasp of the health 
and public safety issues they trade for political, monetary, and social gain.

7. Apparently, City Council committee members, Tim Noble and Chris Rantanan, 
who helped to create the draft, failed to address the burning of trash and 
garbage in wood stoves or barrel type stoves, in various garages and houses in 
the city. The operation of one of these ill designed trash and garbage 
incinerators operated by one of my neighbors, would have brought the burning 
issue to council last Spring, had I not left the State to care for my dying
father, during which time my inconsiderate neighbor moved out of town.

8. Apparently, City Council committee members, Tim Noble and Chris Rantanan, 
who helped to create the draft, considered the safety implications of burning 
barrels, but provided no more "public safety" than an option for "...arbitrary 
inspection by the Public Safety Department for violations of this Ordinance". 
From my perspective, in the "real world", that vague provision is nothing more 
than a subjective tool for selective law enforcement and arbitrary political 
retribution. I have no reason to believe that Manistique Public Safety has the 
resources, reasons, or motivation, to inspect all burning barrels and 
facilities, regularly, in an objective manner. Consequently, I am left with the 
deduction that armed Public Safety personnel must exercise nothing more than a 
subjective evaluation of their perception, at a distance, to determine if they 
have some probable "cause" to justify an arbitrary "inspection" of private 

9. Apparently, the draft represents a concensus of those on the committee, and 
their "advisors", a majority of whom sanction the poisoning of one group by 
another, and the abrogation of an essential "civil right", when many more 
civilized options are available.  

10. Apparently, the City Attorney did not review the draft. 

To ramble, a little, while considering my perceived nuances of the proposed 

Is it appropriate that a City of Manistique ordinance, regarding private outdoor 
burning facilities, authorizes armed Manistique Public Safety law enforcement 
personnel to conduct arbitrary inspections of private property? Do arbitrary 
inspections, by armed police, of private burning facilities, on private land, 
make adjacent private property, or activities, subject to police observation, 
and consequential action based on unrelated probable cause, search, seizure and 
How about those folk that burn waste in their garages and home wood stoves? 
Because they didn't purchase the $10 permit are they are immune to prosecution, 
because they didn't sign up for arbitrary inspections?

Regardless of my vehement opposition to the burning of waste, in the city limits 
of Manistique, I would never expect others to pay for the privilege of 
subverting, what I consider a basic premise of private property, that is, the 
protection from unreasonable search. I will not accept the unsubstantiated 
premise that, others, paying $10 for the privilege of poisoning their neighbors, 
lawfully, give armed Manistique Public Safety personnel the authority to 
arbitrarily "inspect" the burner's property for violations of a Manistique city 
ordinance that sanctions the burner's right to poison his neighbours.

In my world, relative to the flexible ethics and predatory behaviour of local 
government officials, "arbitrary inspections" of private property is linked with 
unreasonable searches and political retribution. I would rather see my neighbors 
get sick and die, from their silent acceptance of the toxic consequences of 
their neighbors burning waste material, than sanction any arbitrary inspection 
by any armed police officer, of my property, or any one else's, that could make 
me, or others, liable to investigation and possible prosecution, for a host of 
unrelated reasons, real or imaginary.

I went down the road of an unjustified investigation for imaginary theft by then 
Public Safety Director Peterson, and County Prosecutor Hollenbeck, prompted, I 
was told, by a complaint from a Dan Smith of El-Com Communications, of Marquette. 
I have yet to see a copy of the written complaint that put me through that 
wringer of hearsay allegations. I have no reason to believe that ethics have 
returned to city government with the newly elected Mayor, Peterson, who traded 
whatever integrity he had by remaining silent as others plunder 911 funds for 
little to no public value provided. The past two mayors had flexible ethics, and 
so does the current one, so I would never sanction past agents of the current 
mayor's nose under my tent, or anyone else's.

Does the current Director of Manistique Public Safety, Ken Golat, approve of the 
proposed Manistique City Council Council policy of authorizing his armed men to 
conduct civil inspections? Are the "civil" inspections really "misdemeanor" or 
"criminal" investigations? Why do I have difficulty with the context and 
semantics of the draft language surrounding "arbitrary inspections" by armed 

Regarding the issue of the currently proposed arbitrary inspections, I hope City 
Council members have sufficient foresight to understand the implications of such 
law enforcement tools as arbitrary inspections of private property, on private 
property, by armed city police. There is something ominous about men with guns 
conducting arbitrary inspections of burning barrels and related paraphernalia, 
on private property, as authorized by a city ordinance. The current proposal 
prompts me to wonder when I can expect arbitrary inspections from City 
authorized plumbing inspectors carrying 9mm pistols, on their hips.

Just to add a little historical perspective, that some might think hysterical, 
associated with continued City Council choices to sanction the choices of one 
neighbor to poison another, and the recent proposal to sanction arbitrary 
inspections by armed city police:

To condense the consequences of the last times I witnessed the issue of burning 
barrels as a major agenda item, considered in an open Manistique City Council 
forum, with standing room, only; Councilman Hoag voted for outdoor burning 
because he was too cheap to buy a $15 paper shredder for his credit card 
transaction paperwork and cancelled checks. Councilwoman Chris Rantanan voted 
for them because she was afraid that she would no longer be able to have 
bonfires in her back yard. Councilwoman Linda Hoffman voted for them, based on 
meaningless self serving pseudo intellectual psycho babble.

I have nothing specific,in my notes, regarding votes by Mayor Margaret Arnold 
and Councilwoman Mary Sablack. At this time, I can only speculate that my lack 
of record, concerning their votes, is a consequence of their silence due to the 
influence of a continued belligerent and demanding mob clamor, by a vocal 
minority, for Manistique City Council to sanction each individual's choice to 
poison his neighbors, unnecessarily.

(N.B. The last vote of consequence, by Manistique City Council members, occurred 
01/14/02. At that time, regarding a motion to ban burning barrels, Mayor 
Margaret Arnold, and council persons John Hoag and Linda Hoffman voted "no". 
Councilpersons Chris Rantanan, and Mary Sablack voted "yes". Regarding the copy 
of this editorial, that I submitted as public comment, my apology to Councilwoman 
Chris Rantanan for identifying her as voting for burning barrels when, even 
though she wanted her outdoor "campfires", she voted for the ban of burning barrels. 
My apology to Mayor Arnold for identifying her as voting against burning 
barrels, even though she voted for burning barrels, with no reasons given. My 
apology to current Councilman Dan Evonich for associating him with the vote of 
01/14/02, in the original version of my "public comments". I could not remember, 
for sure, whether it was he or Sablack that was on council, at the time, so I 
chose Evonich.

My thanks to Paul Olson's Pioneer Tribune article of, 04/27/06, for prompting me 
to check the public record of the actual vote.

Regarding the issues of historical community silence concerning the default 
acceptance of sanctioned public poisoning, my vote related editorial errors are 
of minor importance.)

Personally, I do not care how many Councilpersons, Councilpersons' children, 
grandchildren and assorted family members are poisoned, and crippled with the 
consequences of Council members' self serving promotion of outdoor burning. 
Council members' choices are part of natural selection, and as far as I am 
concerned, as long as their decisions cull only their family members with the 
genetic predisposition to embrace ignorance and deny reality, I am happy. 
Unfortunately, regarding the issue of outdoor burning, poor City Council 
decisions make potential victims of everyone, including me. 

I understand, and accept, that misery, disease and death are a part of life, as 
long as others do not force their brand of misery, disease and death upon me, or 
those I care for.

It is the voluntary choice, of each council member, to make all the self serving 
and cowardly noises they wish, concerning dangerous public safety issues; and 
other typical city business, in general. It is my voluntary choice, and civic 
responsibility, to recognize and oppose those that wish to paint this community 
as one lead, unopposed, by those with the intellect of a species whose knuckles 
drag the ground.

In light of the obvious inability of City Council members to address their own 
limitations and personal interests, regarding the burning of trash and garbage, 
I suggest that the issue of waste disposal, by burning, be placed on an election 
ballot. As a secret ballot initiative, the choice becomes one of each voter, 
without the self-serving choices of City Council members that bow to the 
influence of the ignorance, bullying, and inconsiderate behaviour of a vocal 
minority, who care nothing for the general health and quality of living of their 

Why, after years of intermittent public wrangling over outdoor burning, do I not 
remember one health professional address the issue in an objective manner? What 
does it take to hear from Schoolcraft County public health and medical 
professionals, with specialties in the causes and pathology of respiratory 
diseases, and other diseases due to inhaled chemical compounds? Are there no 
qualified professionals, associated with Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital, with 
sufficient courage and public responsibility and interest, to voice relevant 
opinions concerning the effects of the high concentration of carcinogens, and 
other injurious gasses, vapors and particulate matter in outdoor burning 
exhaust? Why must Manistique City residents breathe the toxic effluvium as it 
drifts across their backyards, and into their houses, from the burning waste on 
a neighbor's property, while the "highly regarded" medical community, and public 
health officials, remain silent?

What does it take for the community to consider the potential and actual effects 
of inhaled chemical compounds and particles, from the open burning of trash, 
upon the health of their children and grand children, that are most vulnerable 
to long term effects?

What does it take for the community to consider the potential and real time 
effects of the inhaled chemicals and particles, from unnecessary combustion 
processes, upon the health and well being of their aging family members, and 
friends, that are most vulnerable to the short term effects?

I find it difficult to express, in a civilized manner, my disappointment and 
disgust, at what appears, to me, for years, to be a total lack of expressed 
concern by various Schoolcraft County public health related professionals and 
public officials. From my cynical perspective, I conclude that the silence is a 
consequence of political cowardice, or knowledge that the status quo helps to 
secure continued employment for a large sector of the community, and, among 
other things, helps to justify and fund the building of a new hospital.

To put it bluntly, I attribute the health professionals' silence to political 
cowardice, because of the political retribution so pervasive in this community, 
and the awareness that, among other things, disease equals money; and without 
disease a lot of folks would have less lucrative occupations and influence in 
the community.

Reduced to its simplest form, the current open burning scenario, appears to me 
as nothing more than another expression of that pervasive facet of human nature, 
inherited from our simian ancestors, namely, exclusive self interest that might 
be expressed as "F--- you, Petey, as long as I get what I want!"

A civilised and responsible solution to the public health hazard of open burning 
might be the total ban of burning garbage and trash.

With an exceptional paper recycling effort, sponsored by Manistique Papers Inc., 
and supported by several local organizations and businesses, most arguments for 
burning paper, in the City of Manistique, are specious. Manistique Rentals 
offers cardboard recycling. Manistique Rentals, Waste Management and whomever, 
provide curbside garbage collection. There is Envirocycle Composting for 
biodegradable yard waste. There are several local automobile and metal salvage 
businesses. There is curbside recyclables collection by Waste Not, of Gulliver. 
Regarding domestic and commercial waste, in the City of Manistique, beyond the 
political expedience of bowing to Third World mentalities, there is no rational 
reason to promote policies that encourage the burning, or dumping of waste.

There is still the community waste disposal problem concerning many hazardous 
chemicals that some residents, including me, would prefer to burn than see 
buried in land fills or dumped in city sewers, local ditches or on unguarded 
public and private property. Needless to say, burning most toxic chemicals 
creates toxic combustion products with various known and unknown effects on the 
environment, and public health.

The availability of numerous waste disposal options in the City of Manistique 
make the burning of most waste, and the illegal dumping of most waste, 
uncivilized and unnecessary options. To me, those that sanction and encourage 
such behaviour are little better than chimps with car keys. The "chimps" care 
not for a neighbor's desire for a healthy life in a safe and secure community, 
unthreatened by their simian neighbors. Chimps prefer the "law of the jungle".

Been there, done that, and learned from my experiences.

Past pleas of poverty, to justify burning and illegal dumping, are, mostly, pure 
fiction. I live in "poverty", and, generally, neither burn trash nor dump it, 
illegally. As a matter of fact, I am one of those local fools that makes a 
conscious effort to remove some of the trash that chimps leave scattered about 
the community. 


It takes the intellect of a chimpanzee to allow some chimps, in the City of 
Manistique, in 2006, to continue to poison and offend their neighbors with the 
stinking exhaust of burning trash and garbage. For decades, the burning of trash 
and garbage has been unlawful. For decades, residents have burned trash and 

It takes a fantastic view, of City Council members, to create or promote another 
almost unenforceable city ordinance, with unenforceable roots that extend, at 
least, as far back as City Ordinance 76 of 1956. As current Mayor Peterson 
knows, from his Department of Public Safety days, folks burned garbage and 
trash, with virtual impunity, when he had the responsibility to enforce the 
current ordinance, and I know, now, as then, that many city residents burn 
garbage and trash with similar impunity. Neither Directors of Public Safety 
Peterson, nor Golat, have ever suggested the use of a "Nazi" style police force 
to enforce a burning ordinance, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to 
realize that is what it would take.

Not considering the use of heating "wood stoves" as domestic incinerators to 
burn trash and garbage, it would be a no-brainer to enforce an ordinance that 
allowed no outdoor burning. One digital photograph, and a ticket; no exceptions. 

I hope that all city residents consider the possibility that any toxic chemical 
molecule, or a molecule of a carcinogen, when entering the human body, may, or 
may not, be the cause of any one of a host of debilitating health problems. The 
human species has evolved, over millions of years, to live, relatively distress 
free, with most material in the "natural" environment. There is virtually no 
inherited immunity of life to the effects of the various toxic gases, vapors, 
and particles created by man. City residents, through their elected 
representatives, choose to inhale their neighbors poisonous chemicals; or not.

I do not care what my neighbors choose to inhale. I do care about what I and my 
neighbors are "forced" to inhale. The "No Smoking!" section of town does not 

In 2006, in the City of Manistique, there is no more reason for trash burning, 
in my neighbor's back yard, than there is for cows, pigs, and chickens.

One more effort to put this issue in perspective. If the concentration and types 
of chemicals, in the burning waste exhaust plumes that once crossed my property, 
were found, periodically, in the City of Manistique water supply, I have reasons 
to believe the water supply would be condemned, rapidly. So why must I, or any 
city resident, be required to breathe Manistique city air laced, by a neighbour, 
with dangerously high concentrations of toxic chemicals and particulate matter?

Open burning in a a city environment is hazardous to all members of the public 
that breathe the downwind exhaust plume, regardless of what dog they may have in 
this public health dog fight.

Filing an official complaint, or "calling the cops", does not endear any 
individual resident to inconsiderate neighbors with whom many residents are 
bound to for decades. Many timid folk are unwilling to live with the 
consequential animosity for decades, for calling the law to deal with an 
inconsiderate neighbor. It should not be necessary for anyone to ask a neighbor 
to stop poisoning his family. It should not be necessary for anyone to consider 
the social consequences of alienating particular neighbors over a public health 
issue that should not exist, yet does, and continues to effect everyone, 
depending on the weather.

From my justified perspective, the draft of the seven page outdoor burning 
ordinance is more proposed "knee jerk", unenforceable, ill conceived lunacy. It 
does little more than ensure that all city residents remain the chance victims 
of certain toxic material related diseases, caused by inconsiderate neighbours. 
In historical context, the draft ordinance states all residents must tolerate 
any hazardous stink and discomfort caused by any neighbor's authorized outdoor 
burning, for two hours a day, 365 days a year. Gee! Thanks for nothing! Again!

Now it is time to hear from the "Champions of Chimps" why licensing back yard 
burning is, given current knowledge and choices, good for the community. Going 
on two decades, I have heard nothing but evasive bullshit. Who, of City Council, 
has the balls to "lay it on the line", and deal with the public health and law 
enforcement issues, in the context of historical fact?

It is time to burn the fantasy.


At the Manistique City Council meeting of 06/13/06, after hearing public comment, council
members passed a new open burning ordinance. The new ordinance, transcribed below, "burned
the fantasy".

Councilwoman Chris Rantanan, spoke candidly, with passion and eloquence, about her experiences
dealing with her attempts to find some compromise to maintain her, and other's, interest in
preserving backyard campfires. She realized, with every attempt, that feedback from various
city residents others
indicated that whatever      awarenesswith    dealt
a new proposed open burning totally