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A Matter Of Opinion

Archive for April 2007

Family Leave: The Other Side

Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville and Rep. Lynn Schindler, R-Otis Orchards, visited with the editorial board today. They talked about the budget mostly. But we did have a good conversation about the $250 family leave stipend, guaranteed for five weeks for parents of newborns and adopted babies. They both voted against it. Here are some of their reasons.

Mark Schoesler: “I have a friend who is a county commissioner in a county I don’t represent, a smaller county. She said, ‘We’ve stretched our payroll as far as we can. We don’t know how we’d get the work done if people were taking six weeks here and there. We can’t afford to cover multiple positions at one time. We’re just getting by.’

“When you have a key person leave in one department for six weeks and you have to keep it open, there are some real pitfalls to this. It was not well thought out.”

Lynn Schindler: “It will cost $18 million to administer. And they are talking about 90 to 92 new employees at the state level to administer that program. If you have a small business company and one goes out for five weeks, can you fill the hole with the other employees? Maybe not.

“So if you hire a temporary employee to fill that hole and then when that person comes back, you lay off the temp. Then they can go and apply for unemployment insurance. You get two hits. You’re losing an employee. You hire a temp and your L&I unemployment gets hit because you hired someone and laid them off. So your rates go up.”

(Rebecca Nappi photos/The Spokesman-Review)

Push the Hot Button

I will do my level best to avoid sophomoric double entendres in discussing the latest D.C. scandal. Seems there is this escort service that has been charged with doing more than escorting. The operator of this business denies that it is a prostitution ring. She has sent a client list to ABC News in the hopes that prosecutors will back off.

So far, there is one noteworthy victim, Deputy Secretary of State Randall Tobias, who has denied that he got anything more than a massage.

Should ABC start naming names? Will this tactic work? Or, does this whole saga just rub you the wrong way?

(Anders Wiklund/AP Photo)

Loose thread

Here’s your chance. If you can tear yourself away from what’s supposed to be a pleasant weekend, post a comment here that raises issues you think people ought to be talking about.

The trouble with Harry Reid …

… is that he might be right about Iraq. The trouble with the debate about the war is that it’s gotten sidetracked on whether it was appropriate or wise for the Senate majority leader to have said:

“And as long as we follow the President’s path in Iraq, the war is lost.”

Here’s the opening of a scathing critique of military leadership authored by Army Lt. Col. Paul Yingling in the Armed Forces Journal:

“For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency.”

Do we have enough cops or not?

The Matrix report says the city of Spokane could stand to lose 10 police officers. In 2005, voters approved a temporary property tax increase to, among other things, forestall layoffs at the Police Department. Meanwhile, Mayor Hession says he will let that tax lapse.

So, did we need to raise that tax to begin with? Or does the Matrix study accept a level of public safety that is unacceptable to the public?


Today’s letter

“If the argument against a scheduled withdrawal from Iraq is that the other side will simply wait us out before resuming their agenda, then it holds true that a scheduled surge will produce the same results.”

This is a favorite subject for letter writers, though this one did not include contact information for verification. Is this pithy statement correct, or are there factors not being considered?

Letter for the day

“Many people have written letters questioning the appropriateness of Frank Knott’s use of the word ‘colored’; some defending and some criticizing. This is certainly an important but obviously divisive subject and so I think we would all like to see this issue resolved. Perhaps we could call on some respected national organization for their opinion on this matter. For example, I would be interested to know what the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization has to say. You know the one, (Many of us have trouble remembering what the letters stand for.) it’s called the NAACP.”

Bing Preston

One of our articles on the Knott “colored” issue actually does include a statement from the local NAACP president, V. Anne Smith:

“V. Anne Smith, president of the Spokane Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Monday that while the term is part of her organization’s name, it has long been unacceptable for use when referencing an individual.

” ‘If he had somebody on the board that was African American, he wouldn’t use this term,’ Smith said. “It has been many years since Mr. Boston was on the board.’ ”

Is a name change in order for the NAACP, or is this just a sarcastic allegation of double standards in terminology?

Noah Kroese: Legislature Keeps NASCAR Off Track

Noah Kroese/Spokesman-Review

It’s warming up and gas prices go up and up, too

Gas in stations along my morning commute on Northwest Boulevard in Spokane was selling for $2.94 a gallon today. Wow. And that was the cheapest stuff.

In our editorial board meeting today with Gov. Chris Gregoire, she commented on the announcement of the state investigation into gasoline pricing patterns.

She had some interesting theories about why it’s so hard to figure out those pricing patterns. She noted that anytime an investigation begins, the prices seem to go down.

She said, “Do we actually think it’s a coincidence that every year around the time that the kids get out of school and are going to go on vacations that suddenly the international market changes dramatically and so the cost of gas goes up? I don’t remotely buy that.”

(As this AP photo shows, it could be worse. These are the recent gas prices in San Francisco)

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Update: Right as I was posting this, a friend forwarded a mass e-mail chain letter kind of thing urging consumers to boycott two big gas companies. No need to name them here! Anyway, they believe that if everyone forwards the e-mail to 30 people, 30 million consumers will be part of the boycott within eight days and prices will come tumbling down…

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Question: How Big of a House is Too Big?

Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times

In a Los Angeles Times article reprinted in The Spokesman-Review this morning, Sun Desert, Calif., neighbors expressed their outrage re: Duane Hagadone’s $30M, 64,000sf home that interviews with the Santa Rosa Mountains view shed. What do you think about a home of that size?

1. Hagadone has a right to spend his money any way he wants.
2. ‘Tis fun to see Californians upset by Idaho immigrants for a change.
3. Hagadone can no longer trick Coeur d’Alene officials, so he tricked Sun Desert ones.
4. What an extravagant waste at a time when so many are hungry and homeless.
5. Out of sight, out of mind.


Your turn

This is a thread for readers only. In it, we’d like to hear what subjects you would like for us to talk about or write about.

A lesson in race relations

Shortly after the killing spree at Virginia Tech, Sen. Paul Shinn, a soft-spoken and respected member of the Washington Legislature, rose on the Senate floor in Olympia. He wanted to tell his colleagues how painful it was to him to learn that a fellow Korean American was to blame for this tragedy at the other end of the nation. Shinn was emotional, but under control. He was almost apologetic, as though he bore some responsibility.
Those who specialize in matters of race relations tell us that being a member of a minority group means having to answer for the behavior of others whose ethnicity you share.
How unfair.

How safe is your child?

The fact box in today’s editorial on how safe your child is against sexual abuse while outside the home — for instance during school activities or in church and community groups — referred readers to a safety checklist for children and adolescents. Parents answer yes or no to questions such as “Have you physically checked out the facilities your child attends such as day care or school, sports facilities, or other play areas?

The safety checklist is on Lutheran Community Services SAFeT Response Center Web site here.

WSU visitors

One of the more interesting things about working on an editorial board is we get to meet people doing interesting things in the world.

Today, retiring WSU president V. Lane Rawlins came in with the man who is replacing him, Elson Floyd.

Our 40-minute conversation covered a variety of topics, including a five year down-the-road-look at WSU-Spokane, the phenomenon of high school students not going onto college in great numbers and the reality of mental illness on college campuses, in light of the Virginia Tech tragedy.

Editorial board meetings with our guests sound more formal than they are in practice. The best ones are dialogues with people who have in-depth knowledge on topics we know just a little about.

(Current Washington State University President V. Lane Rawlins, left, with his successor Elson S. Floyd. Brian Immel photo for The Spokesman-Review)

Current Events Quiz

NPR had a story the other day on how the profusion of media hasn’t meant an increase in awareness of current events. The Pew people polled folks in 1989 and in 2007. Asked them the same questions.

People aren’t any better informed now than they were then. For instance, more people back then could name the vice president (Quayle) than today (Cheney). Does this surprise you?

Here’s the results.

And here’s a short current events quiz.

The neat part is that you can compare your results with those who were polled. I finished in the 91st percentile.

And you?

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