Advertise Here

A Matter Of Opinion

Archive for June 2007

Saturday’s “Our view”

Today’s editorial notes that Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s appointment of a new state Supreme Court justice effectively leaves voters out of the process. Read it and let us know how you feel.

Here’s your chance

What’s that on your shoulder? Looks like a loose thread — I’ll get it. OK, you get it.
Get it?
(Translation: Respond to this post to bring up your own topic for discussion.)

Be Careful Out There, Take Two

Our edit board this week discussed car accidents, as part of our discussion about today’s editorial touting the value of slower speed limits near parks and playgrounds.

Two of us were in minor traffic accidents recently and we all have little ones in our lives who we worry about concerning their safety and cars.

As I was walking to our parking garage last night, I noticed several police cars, an ambulance and fire engine near the garage’s exit. People were gathering there quickly. I sensed something pretty awful.

As I drew closer, I saw a man — who had been hit by a pickup that ultimately flipped over — wedged underneath a parked car. He landed there after being hit by the pickup.

The crowd grew —business people, street people, the media. We spoke with one another in hushed tones, or spoke not at all, as we watched the paramedics gently work to get the man out from under the car.

To me, they looked like ministering angels. Surreal, filled with grace. The bicyclist will be OK, our story this morning reported. I hope so. He seemed very still.

As soon as the ambulance roared away, people resumed their normal speaking tones. They made cell phone calls to explain why they were running late. Coming upon such a scene altered the whole evening for me. And perhaps for the other “witnesses” as well.

I was happy we’d written the go-20 mph-zone edit. It’s dangerous out there in the streets, especially in the summer and especially for our young people. What’s the big hurry? Things can change — for the awful — in an instant.

(Photo by Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)

Still trying harder

Spokane’s the second-largest city in the state with a narrow lead over Tacoma, according to new U.S. Census figures.

Read story here: We’re No. 2.

So what conclusions do you draw about our collective self esteem?

Slow down, ya move too fast

With apologies to Simon and Garfunkel, what are your thoughts about seasonal speed limits past several Spokane parks. Today’s editorial lets you know what we think.

The “Avoid D.C. Tour” continues

Despite the memory lapses evident in his congressional testimony, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales remembered to show up in Spokane today to tout an anti-gang initiative.

Question: If you were in charge of an important project, would you want Gonzales speaking on its behalf?

UPDATE: Two protesters arrested.

Wednesday’s Loose Thread

“A civilization in which there is not a continuous controversy about important issues is on the way to totalitarianism and death”Robert Maynard Hutchins

Use it or lose it.

Whiskerino Days

At our morning editorial board meetings, we discuss serious stuff, of course, but often our conversations veer into unexpected, lighter topics. Yesterday, I told my colleagues about my husband accidentally shaving off part of his beard which led to his story about his father being “arrested” in Sioux City decades ago during a summer celebration in which the men of the town grew beards and were fined and placed in “jail” for shaving them off before the end of the celebration days. Tony’s father, an ultra serious lawyer, was nabbed after accidentally shaving the morning of a big trial.

I had never heard of this kind of town event, but Doug Floyd knew it right away. He said: “Whiskerino Days.”

So I googled it and most references were to the past, when these corny civic events happened in many towns across the country. One town, Madera, California, keeps it alive still.

The Whiskerino Posse will be out to arrest any clean shaven gentleman in celebration of Old Timer’s Week from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 25th through Thursday, September 27th. ‘Stay Out of Jail’ buttons will be sold for $5.00 each and available at the Madera County Museum. — From the Madera Chamber of Commerce Web site.

Any memories of Whiskerino Days or other town celebrations from summers past? And what have we lost by doing away with some of the cornier traditions?

Our blog lines are open.

(Photo from Spokesman-Review photo archives)

That’s the ticket

In Our View, it makes sense for the Police Department to ditch the traditional wool uniforms for comfy, practical jumpers jumpsuits.

If nothing else, officers might be more cheerful as they write up that infraction. And with the new cell-phone laws, they’ll need help keeping cool.

(S-R photo by Holly Pickett)

Rural Rambles: Waverly, Wash.

This summer I’m continuing a project I began last summer to swim in municipal rural pools within 90 minutes of Spokane. It’s for a Web site data base project of all regional municipal pools that will eventually be “published” on our Web site.

One of the side benefits is that I’ll get to know some of the issues in the smaller towns in our circulation area. And some of that information shall show up here every week or so under the Rural Rambles headline.

The town of Waverly, population 121, is located about a half hour south of Spokane. It doesn’t have a municipal pool, but it’s the first town on my Rural Rambles summer tour because one of the town’s major meeting places — the Hangman Creek Bar and Grill — has been closed since Februrary. I wrote my column Sunday about it.

Time is running out for the Hangman Creek Bar and Grill in Waverly, a town of 121 in southeast Spokane County. The bar and grill has been closed since February because of major health problems suffered by owner Dennis Peters. His wife, Cheryl, couldn’t keep it going alone. The Peters are hoping to borrow enough money to reopen, but they acknowledge it will take an “It’s a Wonderful Life” kind of miracle.
Gone will be the only restaurant for miles around. Gone will be Dennis’ famous fresh-grilled oyster dinners. Gone will be the monthly meeting place for the ladies’ groups and space for civic meetings. And gone will be the customers who traveled to Waverly from urban Spokane, customers like Jim Merriman, one of Dennis’ relatives, who called me to tell me about the Peters’ plight – and their hope.

If you know of a town within 90 minutes drive of Spokane that has a municipal pool and some interesting issues, please let me know. I’ll ramble by.

(Tony Wadden photo)

Running Start

We’re all about the Running Start when it comes to education, and we say so here.

Your thoughts?

Weekend editorials for your review

A federal agency shows a distinct lack of cooperation with a U.S. senator. Is it just their own political battle, or should the public at large be concerned? Read Saturday’s “Our view” and share your own thoughts.
And from Sunday, there’s one comment on the issue that brought Murray to VA’s doorstep in the first place, namely psychiatric care received by vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, plus another on the kayak park planned for the Spokane River near Peaceful Valley.

(Photo by Ingrid Lindemann/The Spokesman-Review)

Secret ballots and the history of voting

A recent release from U.S. Sen. Larry Craig’s office contains a questionable comment:

The Democratic leadership in Congress is pushing through a measure to eliminate secret ballots. Yes, you heard me right - the very foundation of our system of government is being shaken up by those elected to serve you.

I should note that the legislation Craig’s office refers to involves union elections. But to read more about the history of American voting — including the fact that the secret ballot wasn’t introduced in this country until decades after the foundation of our government — check this interesting Web site.

Or if you really want to delve into the subject, read Michael Schudson’s “The Good Citizen: a History of American Civic Life.” It describes the early days of this nation when election day consisted of voters (aka white men who owned property) turning out on the town green and declare their choice by where they stood.


Newsday photo
For those who follow the Supreme Court and appreciate an occasional peek at its inner workings, here’s a column that’s worth a few minutes of your attention. Bottom line: Look for Ruth Bader Ginsburg to lead the liberal wing of the Roberts court into a much more sharply divided bench. Forget about pretences of harmony.

Letters ledger

The report is in. It may be surprising for some, or it may not for others. We’ll continue to keep watch on the numbers in the coming months.

The question is, does this information help more people participate in the printed forum that is the Roundtable page? Are the guidelines we use for letters common sense or highly unreasonable?

Loo’s thread 6/21/7

OK, without being indelicate here, we all know the place that affords a few minutes of quiet reflection and allows us to do some of our best thinking.
We’re trying to make “A Matter of Opinion” another one. What would you like to share?

Question: Should This Woman Go Back to Prison?

Item: Mom faces prison: Woman given probation had baby, then appeals court overruled judge/Taryn Brodwater, Spokesman-Review

Kathy Plonka, Spokesman-Review

“I’m going to miss so many firsts, ” said Kendra Goodrick as she held her 9-week-old son Jameson at her home in Hayden Monday.

Goodrick, 29, said she never thought she’d be headed back to prison after 1st District Judge John Mitchell placed her on probation in January 2006. The Court of Appeals decision was a devastating blow, she said. Goodrick is a model of success, according to the attorneys and counselors who have worked with her. She married her longtime boyfriend on March 31 and gave birth to her first child April 10. “I’ve come so far, and I’ve done everything they’ve requested me to do,” she said. “And then some.”

Question: Should Goodrick go back to prison?

Does this compute? “Our view” for 6/20/7

Math performance by Washington students continues to be disappointing. Some of the approaches recently deemed cutting edge are now being reconsidered — appropriately. Read today’s editorial and submit your own comments.

Man’s connection to global warming

Casey King has asked the question that is at the center of the global warming issue. Hardly anyone disputes that the Earth is warming, but is man to blame?

The scientific consensus is yes, but how do they know?

The short answer: They know the difference between the various types of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And they know that we’re pumping it up there faster than the planet can clear it out.

Here’s the long answer.

“Our view” shows restraint

Tuesday’s editorial talks about Washington’s new requirements for child restraint in cars. We’d like to know what you think.

I Want to Drive Alone

Despite high gas prices, global warming — oops, I mean “climate change” — and the higher cost of parking coming soon to downtown Spokane, people still drive to work da sola.

See today’s story.

When I worked in Washington D.C. for two years in the 1980s, I always took the Metro to work. It was clean, fast and relaxing in its own way.

Now, even though I feel guilty about it somtimes, I drive to work, despite the fact the the bus is fairly convenient.

What would it take for you to commute to work by public transportation, bicycle, or on foot?

Our blog lines are open.

File photo/The Spokesman-Review

Thoughts about Sunday’s editorials?

Do you think the city of Spokane should abandon its practice of routinely countersuing those who file civil rights abuse cases? Here’s what an editorial says about it today.
Or, what are your thoughts about the budgetary pickle Spokane Public Schools find themselves in. Read our comment here.

A loose thread for the weekend

Anyone who’s spent much time around me has probably heard me quote Thomas Jefferson as saying that error may be tolerated where truth is free to combat it.
Ready for combat? What truth do you want to wield today?

Future Watch, Take 1

In the mid-1980s, I interviewed Jonathan Peck, a futurist with the Institute for Alternative Futures.

We were talking about the then changing telephone technology and he mentioned that someday people would carry their phone numbers with them everywhere. He wasn’t sure how it would work. Maybe our phone numbers would be on a sort of credit card that we’d plug into hotel phones.

Cell phones turned out to tbe the universal phone number carriers that Peck imagined. And the ability to carry my phone number with me everywhere, which seemed so sci-fi in the late 1980s, is now a 2007 reality.

I wished I had recorded the exact date and time of the prediction by Peck (and I can’t find the story I wrote back then.) But this blog allows me to track some of the future watch stuff more easily.

And here’s the first. Yesterday, the editorial board met with the Northwest Power and Conservation Council folks. They talked about future stresses on the power grid, especially during peak-load times. They then, almost casually, mentioned the peak load demands that might happen with people get home from work and plug in their cars to recharge them for the next day. They are already talking about ways to meet that potential demand.

Wouldn’t that be a great problem for society to solve. Can’t wait! Will it take 20 years? Longer, shorter? Your predictions are welcome.

Photo from

Tolerance building

Our view today celebrates the growing acceptance of gay and lesbian citizens in Spokane.

Some call this progress; others do not. Here’s your chance to weigh in.

Oh, why not?

“Primary still secondary” is our view today.

Do you think there’s any significance to the new primary date that we might have missed?

Too few teachers

Our view today examines the need for more teachers and other professionals as the baby boomers retire.

What “big dream” do you have for how this impending hole in education should be repaired?

(Photo by Dan Pelle, The Spokesman-Review)

Who’s Responsible for Letter to Editor Errors?

I’m throwing this question out for debate: what are the duties of newspaper editorial page editors when it comes to pointing out factual mistakes in Letters to the Editor? Do they have any moral responsiblities at all, as long as they have a statement that letters don’t reflect their views, and they print later letters that point out the errors? Or should they put in an “Editor’s Note” after clearly false claims stating that the writer is in error? What do you think? I got thinking about this when reading the letters in yesterday’s Idaho Statesman, and the top letter in this group made the “Barack Obama is a Muslim and went to a Wahabbi school” claim that’s been thoroughly debunked. (Note: While I’m not supporting Sen. Obama for President under any conceivable circumstances, I do support the truth.) — Bubblehead/The Stupid Shall Be Punished.

DFO: We won’t knowingly print a letter to the editor that contains false information. I’ve received calls from our letters editor asking me about claims made in Idaho letters. Occasionally, misinformation does slip through, however. Of course, many readers mistake opinion for fact. Also, we have kicked out letter writers who plagiarize other material.

Question: Have you ever spotted an error in a letter to the editor of either local newspaper?

A necessary hassle

Today’s editorial laments the crime that has made new scrap-metal regulations necessary. Tell us what you think.

Show some restraint

A new child-restraint safety law is in effect this month. It looks like more parents are going to be saying, “Don’t make me come back there,” since children under 13 will be riding in the back seat under a $101/ticket mandate.

As a fan of making free, responsible choices, it’s hard for me to swallow every safety precaution mandated by law. Of course it’s safer to buckle up, sit up straight, eat right and wear sunscreen, but where should lines be drawn? It’s a habit to buckle my seat belt, but I wonder whether it is a bit more than police officers signed up for to give lectures on safe automotive parenting.

Parents who care will do what’s best for their children. Parents who don’t won’t be reformed by citations.

But that’s only my opinion. What’s yours?

(Photo by Holly Pickett, The Spokesman-Review)

The global warming consensus

One of the things I learned at a global warming conference in Portland over the weekend is that “climate change” is a less threatening phrase. Political strategists, take note.

By far, the most interesting speaker was Dr. Stephen Schneider of Stanford, who helped write one of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. He has a terrific Web site. Check it out. Here is another, where actual climate scientists react to the latest news, research and bizarre opeds that appear on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal.

Don’t Mind Your Own Business

Citizens got involved today in CDA and helped rescue a woman in obvious peril. More details will be added to this story by tomorrow’s paper. But it made me wonder: Have true-crime dramas helped citizens become more bold when they see what might be crimes in progress? Have the shows expanded our awareness of some of the bad things that can happen to people? What kinds of suspicious behavior would you report?

Here’s part of the story:

A handcuffed woman being held against her will was rescued from a car on the west side of Lake Coeur d’Alene on Sunday evening after citizens called the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

A driver called police about 8:15 p.m. to report seeing the woman passenger handcuffed in a vehicle driving on Kidd Island Bay Road near Tall Pines Road. The driver tried to follow the vehicle but lost it near Loffs Bay Road.

In the meantime, a second person called 911 to tell them a friend called to say she was being held against her will.

Read it all.

Jump into the pool discussion

Our view today speaks to the value of public spaces. Do you, the public, think it worthwhile (and worth the cost) to create and preserve public recreation facilities?

Loose thread for the weekend

In the current issue of The Atlantic, writer Jonathan Rauch says one reason the British and other parliamentary systems of government can conduct national elections so much more quickly than Americans’ marathons is the concept of a shadow government.
Not only are the respective parties’s leaders and agendas well known well before the election, so, usually, are the figures tabbed for the key cabinet positions.
If American presidents identified their cabinets during the campaign rather than after the election, would voters in this country make more informed and more confident choices?

Talk about a need for early learning

In today’s editorial, the board examines the mistake Idaho Gov. Butch Otter made in cutting the state’s “Parents as Teachers” program.

Read it here. Our View: Program error
Cutting Parents as Teachers a grievous mistake

And now it’s your turn to weigh in.

Did the Little Guys win?

Jesse Tinsley/Spokesman-Review
In recent newspaper stories and in editorials, we have chronicled the battle for the future going on in beautiful Bayview, Idaho on Lake Pend Oreille.

The old-timers — some of them live in trailers — liked the laid-back feel of the place which is so stunning that you can picture Greek gods claiming it for their own playground.

Developer Bob Holland, meanwhile, saw its potential as the next Lake Tahoe. But he got into some big trouble, not only by locals but by people regionally and statewide, when it was discovered that he destroyed a spawning kokanee salmon bed while expanding a marina to go with his tony condos.

Today he announced he’s pulling out of Bayview. The story at says: “A developer has scrapped his plans to replace the 32-slot View of the Bay Mobile Home and RV Park with condominiums. Instead, Hayden developer Bob Holland has put the Bayview property up for sale for $1.6 million.”

So what’s your guess? Just a matter of time before another Lake Tahoe dreamer comes to Bayview? Or will the area be able to retain its down-home charm several more years?

Textbook sticker shock

Shawn Vestal’s great story on a new solution to high college textbook prices struck me as wonderful news yesterday.
Read it here: Textbook rentals solution to price hikes
After eight years of helping our two college-age daughters buy textbooks, it appears relief may be in sight…just as we head this weekend to our younger daughter’s graduation.
Renting textbooks? Why didn’t our kids’ bookstores think of that!
Please share your thoughts here:

Graduation Inflation

Jesse Tinsley/Spokesman-Review

This weekend will mark my third graduation ceremony in a week. And it’s the first graduation ceremony I recognize from the past.
My goddaughter is graduating from Mead High School.

Most of us went through high school graduation and some of us through the college ceremony.

But with the baby boomlet happening now in my extended family, I have recently been introduced to what I call “graduation inflation.”

One great-nephew graduated last week from pre-school. Another last night from kindergarten. I love the stuff, but one relative who was concerned about this graduation inflation wondered: “What’s next? Attending their haircuts?”


So these cloudy afternoon questions for you: Is there any harm in celebrating these smaller milestones? Is there some good in having them? Your pomp and circumstance, please.

A few blog guidelines

We’ve taken down a posting today from a blogger with a double-entendre pseudonym. And in addition, we’re watching some conversations degenerate into name-calling.

Let’s keep the conversation civil here. When we elevate the dialogue, more voices will be heard and the blog will blossom.

Here’s some advice gleaned from talking to a group of wise women recently: If you think the last poster is an idiot, stop a minute to interject the thought “bless his/her heart.” And then find a way to tackle the issue without resorting to personal attack.

Great-grandma faces felony charge

An ailing great-grandmother in Spokane who uses marijuana for medical purposes has been charged as a drug dealer.

Read about Christine Rose Baggett in Thomas Clouse’s story: Surprise side effect

Sounds to me like Baggett made the wrong decision in tipping her dealer with a small amount of marijuana. But a felony charge strikes me as over the top.

Join the conversation on that topic here:

Staff photo by Christopher Anderson

Spokane River survey

Spokane River lovers can never rest. Seems like we just finished worrying about the dang oxygen-gobbling phosphorus issue when concerns about toxic chemicals and heavy metals have come to the surface. See our Saturday edit.

Some good news in all of this? Lots of people know, use and love the river. And some good news for us here. In a recent Center for Justice survey, participants said they depend most on newspaper stories to get information about the river. See survey.

When was the last time you walked, swam, biked, boated or gazed at the river?

Photo by Rich Landers/The Spokesman-Review

Feeling grouchy?

If you’re feeling out-of-sorts on a Monday, we’ve got just the spot for you.

Here’s today’s open thread — the perfect chance
to tell us what’s got you so grumpy today.

AP photo

Opinions: Worries made public

Just returned from an “Authors Con” at Salk Middle School in North Spokane.

Opinion writing can sometimes be understood as what we worry about. We write out the worry and then try to come up with something to alleviate the worry.

I asked the students to tell us what they worry about. Here’s a sampling of what they said:

“I worry about global warning. Have you noticed it’s only June and it is getting up to 80!”

“Shootings in school and the war in Iraq.”

“I am worried about all the diseases in the United States.”

“I am worried about the war in Iraq. It is killing our husbands, moms, wives, sisters, brothers and daughters. It can change your life forever.”

“I am worried about lunch detention.”

Friday’s Thread: Don’t mute it

Mimes — performance artists who do their acting without speaking — are often made fun of. We won’t do that here today. Why name call just for name-calling sake on a glorious Friday?

So tell us what’s on your mind this morning. Don’t be a mime.

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

A Matter of Opinion is really a matter of many opinions — those held by the people responsible for the opinion pages of The Spokesman-Review ... and yours. Check in regularly to follow the discussion and help keep it lively.

Joust offline!

We welcome letters to the editor (all are subject to editing). Letters can be sent to:

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
Advertise Here