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A Matter Of Opinion

Archive for October 2007

Letter: Recycling

Ken Burns’ World War II series showed Americans recycling wood, cans, glass, rubber, etc., to support our troops. Today we are at war, but throw away most materials rather than recycle.

A trip to any refuse transfer station reveals tons of useful unsorted materials that are trucked to a landfill and buried. Every new landfill makes us more dependent on foreign products. America is awash in a sea of Chinese products and OPEC petroleum. We lead the world in energy consumption and must maintain a costly military presence to keep it that way.

Our politicians have adopted trade policies that result in our economic bondage, and the dollar is the weakest it has ever been against other currencies.

A recycling effort equal to the WWII period could reduce our energy consumption by 30 percent and give us a chance to recover from our dependence on foreign oil. Reduced consumption of new goods would improve our trade deficits with other nations.

We must regain the freedom and independence that greedy corporations and our own government have taken from us.

It doesn’t matter who is elected president, if the person holding the office is beholden to international moneychangers that don’t believe in God or country.

Pete Scobby
Newport, Wash.

Question: Do you make an extra effort to recycle? Do you think recycling will be a key issue for national politics in the future?

About those second chances

Today’s editorial recommends skipping second chances when the welfare of kids is at stake.

Here’s the opinion.

What’s your point of view on this? Do teachers who sexually abuse students deserve a second chance?

What adults don’t know about teens

Did a morning opinion writing stint, with Michael Patrick, managing editor of the Coeur d’Alene Press, at North Idaho College for the High School Journalism Workshop.

The students, who came from schools throughout the Northwest, wrote some short essays on what adults don’t know about teens.

Some excerpts:

Adults have no clue what goes on in the teenage life these days. They believe that teens are going off and doing stupid things like drug, sex and alcohol. But did they ever wonder why? Teens actually have hard lives.

It’s obvious that with age comes wisdom and yes, experience, but we kids know a thing or two also! We’re the ones studying for our SATS and competing for summer jobs trying to get started on our future. Really parents, take it from me. Geometry and fast-food occupations aren’t as easy as you think!

Teenagers today are stereotyped as rude, moody, emotional basket cases that care for nothing but themselves. Not all teens are like this.

Things that adults have no idea about — technology — they think they can’t outsmart our tech savvy generation. Most teenagers grew up with a TV and computer, where most parents didn’t. Kids today can simply look at a computer, hit a few buttons, and make it take over the world, where parents just sit in awe.

Thanks to the students. They were great. We hope to see some of their comments here, too!

Here we go again …

Another “not gay” legislator in the news.

So sad that people can’t be themselves, and that societal pressures can open up the possibility of blackmail.

UPDATE: Yes, it gets weirder.

UPDATE: He resigns. Are you watching this, Sen. Craig?

Line ‘Em Up

Last night at the Spokane Arena James Taylor introduced the song “Line ‘Em Up,” with an extended reminiscence of Richard Nixon’s farewell handshake line at the White House.

In Taylor’s opinion, those premature presidential leave-takings should happen more often.

The sentiment evoked some Baby Boomer chuckles from his mostly mellow audience. But what’s your reaction?

AP photo

The Rocketsbrain Thread

RBT,

Rather than spinning all threads on multiple blogs into a commentary about RPS, I thought I’d give you your own thread for that. Of course when the topic actually is RPS, posting in those threads would be fine.

This habit reminds me of letter writers who bring every topic back to abortion.

“Sure, thousands dying in Iraq is terrible, but what about the millions of babies …”

“Why the media obsession with DUI deaths when millions are murdered each year …”

I got a nice note from RBT about my column on Saturday, but guess where he took a topic about Hession and campaigns ads? Yep, right to the mall.

Today’s loose thread

November is almost here. In an eyeblink, the year will be over, and we’ll all be fretting over the 2007 goals that remain unmet. So if there’s a comment you’ve been wanting to post, a discussion you’ve been wanting to see, hop to it.

Seven more days

Some call it Election Day, but people have been voting since Oct. 19. I like to call it Relief From Ads Day.

Won’t come soon in enough in the Spokane mayoral race.

Our Sunday Opinions

Homeless Housing edit.

In Portland, one study found that expenses for 35 homeless people dropped by $16,299 per person once they were placed in supportive housing. A study in Denver showed that emergency costs dropped 73 percent once homeless people found stable places to live.

It’s time for Spokane to add up the price tag for the police calls, fire department and ambulance runs, emergency room visits, hospital stays and jail time required by the chronically homeless.

Impact fees edit.

It’s important to note that while impact fees make sense, they will not cover the full cost of traffic improvements. By state law, they cannot be used to fix road problems that existed before development. The fees must have a direct and proportional relationship to new construction. In short, they are not a cure-all.

Letters: R-67

Today we had a standard sampling of the letters exchange over Washington Referendum 67.

I guess I should not be surprised that The Spokesman-Review departed from virtually every other newspaper in Washington when it failed to endorse R-67, the consumer-oriented insurance fair conduct bill recently passed by our legislature. (…)
What I find galling is its rationale that the insurance commissioner has the authority to penalize unreasonable insurance companies, not so subtly implying that such penalties are a sufficient deterrent to unreasonable insurance claims practices. If this were true, why has the Office of the Insurance Commissioner endorsed the passage of R-67 as being in the best interests of the citizens of this state? Moreover, if increased premiums were a real issue, why has AARP (comprised of constituents who scrutinize any such increases) solidly endorsed R-67’s passage? (…)

Frank Danby
Spokane

(…)Over the past 35 years we’ve owned numerous rental properties and vehicles. During this time we’ve had 12 insurance claims against our policies or someone else’s. In 10 cases the insurance company promptly paid an amount that more than covered the damage. In one disputed case, involving a deductible for vandalism, I called the state insurance commissioner’s office and found that the adjuster’s decision was correct. Our other disputed claim involved an unrealistically low insurance damage estimate for a major fire. In response I got higher quotes from two other contractors, and we settled on a middle amount.

When I see the political ads vilifying insurance companies, I can only conclude that it’s the sponsors of this new law who are the rip-off artists.
Jim Shamp
Cheney

I admit it: I don’t watch much television, which means I’ve missed most of the ads regarding this issue. But the other day I did see the one that touted newspaper and insurance commissioner endorsements. And I can relate stories of being very well handled by insurance companies.

Do you think the S-R’s rejection of 67 will carry any weight?

A cure for what fails you

Amazing how quickly the Washington state Hospital Association revised its attitude about disclosing “adverse incidents,” once the public found out they were trying to avoid it. Our view for Friday explains why we think more information is better than less.

Coach class

Earlier this year, we ran a series of profiles and interviews with strong leaders in the region, among them legendary high school volleyball coach Linda Sheridan.
In today’s paper, I commend to you a column by sports writer Jessica Brown, who examines the way parents sometimes bring a damaging attitude to youth sports.


S-R file photo of Coach Linda Sheridan with some of her past players, now coaches in their own right.

It’s a small world, and drier

Sitting in the Inland Northwest, watching the tragedy unfold for Southern Californians fleeing wildfires, we’re not as removed from that world as we think. Thursday’s editorial explains.

Firestorm: A Spokane Connection

Thanks to reader George L. McAlister, Systems Librarian for Spokane County Medical Society, who sent this interesting e-mail:

For some local flavor on the San Diego wildfires, I’ve been having an interesting experience with my children, Erin and Brett, who were forced to evacuate their home threatened by fire. They were given notice to evacuate on Monday by a reverse 911 call, they quickly gathered a few things together, and left with my 4 year old grandchild in 2 cars.

The problem was that there are only 2 north-south freeways in the San Diego area, and Interstate 15, the freeway next to their home, was closed due to fire (the fire had jumped the freeway just a mile or so north in Rancho Bernardo). Their grandmother has a house about an hour’s drive north of San Diego, so they decided to go there.

They began the few minutes drive toward the coast and Interstate 5 but traffic suddenly stopped. They decided to call me here in Spokane to give them directions, and I quickly got on the Internet. I pulled up “real time” traffic conditions for the area, and an emergency map showing where the fire was burning, and began directing them out of the area. They couldn’t take the east-west freeway to the coast (it was closed), so they began navigating surface streets. As I lived in the area for 20 years prior to returning to Spokane (I was born here), I knew the area.

Watching traffic patterns I was able to navigate them to Interstate 5. The problem was I-5 was jammed both directions as 250,000 people were trying to get out of the area. When they were finally able to find an alternate freeway heading northeast toward their destination (Hwy 78), it suddenly closed as the fire began sweeping into that area (I was able to see this real time on the Internet). I then directed them to the next possible route up the coast (Hwy 76), but then it closed due to fire. Finally, they were able to move in the right direction on Hwy 74, but during their passage, they experienced 50-60 mph winds on an isolated, two lane road. Needless to say, it took six hours for them to go 50 miles.

They were often unreachable by cell phone because of the high volume of calls in the area, but they were still able to receive my directions by text messaging. After they arrived, my daughter was worried about her classes (she’s in nursing school and they had finals scheduled this week), so I was able to check her email and the school website about school closure information). Through the Internet, I was also able to watch local television for up to date reports, and check emergency websites for fire damage. Their home is still OK.

Just thought it was interesting how the evolution of Internet/cell phones/text messaging made it possible for them to escape the fire area safely.


Letter: Don’t foster dependence

Re: “Easy food deadly for grizzlies,” Oct. 21:

This article ought to be a wake-up call for everyone that thinks we are helping an animal when we give away free sustenance for any reason. In this case, it appears that the wildlife photographer may have been feeding the bear to get the bear in close enough to get a good photograph. What he did was to create a dependent that got used to the freebie and could no longer survive without it.

The bear was relocated, but guess what? He came back for the easy life and eventually was shot and killed. I think it may have been a better idea to trap him and put him in a zoo, but what do I know? I am guilty of creating dependent turkeys myself by feeding them in front of my house. Every day my dependents show up at about the same time for the free food. The lesson here is to not create a dependent class, whether it is four-legged or two-legged.
Mike Scalera, Spokane

Question: Do you think there’s any connection between “Don’t feed the wildlife” and “Don’t give to panhandlers” or “Eliminate the welfare state”? Differences?

Hanford museum?

Today’s editorial looks at plans for a museum to commemorate the development of nuclear weaponry and the role Eastern Washington played in it. You can read it and then comment.

Coincidence or campaign politics?

Just after the primary ballots were mailed, Mayor Dennis Hession announced a plan to hire more public safety officers and staff for the ombudsman’s office.

And as general election ballots arrive in homes, he announces a plan to cut the utility tax.

It wasn’t surprising to see the responses of Mary Verner and Al French, both of whom have campaigned on those issues, but the lack of comment on this latest move from Council President Joe Shogan jumped out at me.

Council President Joe Shogan said he was concerned about the announcement and said the mayor should have informed the City Council about the proposal before alerting the entire region with a news release. Asked if the release appeared politically motivated, Shogan declined to comment.

Thoughts?

Nothing but the truth

Lying’s as easy as ever; getting away with it, fortunately, is harder. In Our view, that’s a good thing.

Magic spell

If you’re one of those who think education theorists are too quick to abandon certain proven teaching methods (such as memorizing multiplication facts), take a look at the two stories that appeared side by side on Monday’s front page.

Under “Spokane Schools are adopting writing-based spelling curriculum”:

Under new curriculum adopted by Spokane Public Schools this year for grades two through six, students are no longer asked to memorize lists of words.”

And under “Library fundraiser tests city’s best adult spellers”:

An undergraduate degree from Stanford University, a master’s from Harvard and a doctorate from UCLA could have given Michael Bowen an edge. But if you ask Bowen how he walked away with the trophy in the first “Spokane is Spelling” competition, he’ll tell you he studied his words.

Getting the week off to an inspiring start

If you missed last week’s news story about a dedicated Spokane teacher — or even if you didn’t — here’s an editorial on the topic. Don’t bother, though, if you hunger for cynicism.

Save Our Pavement!

It won’t be long now. Area streets are damp today and slickened with fallen leaves, but snow isn’t far behind and a determined community of drivers will outfit their vehicles with quasi-chainsaws and resume the winter ritual of tearing up Inland Northwest streets and highways. Our view on the matter is just a click away.

Bush wins on SCHIP

Veto override fails by 13 votes.

In the Washington state delegation, U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings remained the lone opponent to the bill that would’ve expanded the program. Republican colleagues Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dave Reichert voted to override the veto.

In Idaho, U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson voted for the override; Bill Sali voted against it.

Now what?

Does the campaign tone bother you?

We’re troubled by the negativity that has taken over the contest between Spokane mayoral candidates Dennis Hession and Mary Verner. Our comment appeared today; you can add yours by posting a comment below.

Colbert for president

Finally, this nation, this race will get the truthiness Americans crave. Here’s the annnouncement.

Escaping Spokaloo: Memories Wanted


My Sunday column was about growing up in Spokaloo, the great underdog city. It’s changing rapidly, and we’re almost hip now. Unbelievable.

Feeling in a nostalgic mood this morning? Share your memories of growing up in Spokane when we were as far from cool as possible. Or maybe you think we’re still a two-dot town. And that’s OK? Or not?

Here’s the beginning of the column.

One afternoon in downtown Spokane, I smelled a scent that combines dog doo, bus diesel and sewer fragrances. I was elated. Finally, it smells like a big city.

I grew up here, lived in bigger cities in my 20s, and then returned home in 1985 to find intact the Spokane Underdog Syndrome.

Those of us who grew up here knew it well. Seattle’s poor stepsister. Out-of-style clothes. Mediocre restaurants. No nightlife. And after high school, the fleeing of the best and brightest.

But Spokane is in transformation from “underdog to wonder dog” as my childhood friend Maureen Cosgrove put it recently.

( S-R File photo of what is now Riverfront Park, pictured in 1971)

Iraq War vets weigh in

We’ve discussed this some in Comments. Thought I’d bring it out for a broader debate.

This week, Gen. Sanchez, the former top commander in Iraq, had some critical comments for the president, National Security Council, Congress and, yes, the media.

In addition, a dozen captains who once served in Iraq offered up some sharp criticism on the Iraq War and military leaders, which would presumably include Gen. Sanchez.

The stunning part to me was where they say that even if the 300,000+ Iraqi security force were ready to go, there wouldn’t be enough of them to do the job.

Sanchez says we all need to pull together to support the troops so we can win.

The captains say the only way to win is to institute the draft. Absent that, the troops should be withdrawn immediately.

Your thoughts?

“The self-licking ice cream cone”

That’s a term used to describe the process of politicians slipping earmarks into spending bills and then getting campaign contributions from the beneficiaries. It was used in an article about George Nethercutt and a Liberty Lake company.

Well, the Seattle Times has found that this practice is quite common, especially with the state’s senior senator, Patty Murray. The Times compiled a national database and compared contributions with earmarks in a recent defense spending bill.

Certainly this has been going on for years and the amounts shift depending on which party is in power, but it’s still maddening to see how much useless stuff the government buys to benefit a particular business.

Two solutions come to mind: public financing of elections and the line-item veto for the president. The latter will take a constitutional amendment since the U.S. Supreme Court shot down a law giving President Clinton that tool.

What’s depressing is that neither solution is apt to happen anytime soon. Or ever.

In the meantime, I guess shame is the only weapon. So kudos to the Times for shining the spotlight. Then again, so many pols are shameless.

Letter: Gang numbers

(…) These gang numbers have been inflated for years (note the current quotes: 900 gang members and 7,000 associates) for funding purposes. It has been long known that the use of the term “associates” covered nearly everyone that looked cross-eyed at an individual who participated in some form of wrongdoings. There are hard-working individuals that are photographed and posted in the “gang book” that have never been affiliated with a gang – it is done simply because law enforcement “can,” and they run unchecked by individuals, elected or appointed.

When Sen. Cantwell sponsored a bill (Gang Abatement and Prevention Act) authorizing in excess of $1 billion, local law enforcements were licking their chops. The Spokesman-Review finally stopped singing in the choir and investigated – great!

Edward Thomas Jr.
Spokane

Question: Do you think gang numbers are generally exaggerated? If so, do you think that worsens what gang problems there are?

Weekend letter: Budgets and bonds

What is the answer? Where does our money go? Why do we always need new bonds to pay what should have been within budget for repairs and maintenance for parks, streets, etc. etc. etc.? Every business runs on such a budget!

Who is in charge of our tax funds? When will it stop, this attack on our limited fixed incomes? Help!
G. J. Sepulveda
Spokane

Do you agree that special bond issues (which you’ll see on the ballots you get next week) should be precluded by careful and forward-seeing budgeting?

Endorsements keep coming

Monday’s “our view” takes a look at contested municipal elections in Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake. Read them and post your own thoughts.

And the winner is …

… Al Gore.

The former vice president was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for inventing the Internet, er, spreading the word about man-made climate change, largely through the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Thoughts on this or global warming in general?

Friday’s Loose Thread

What’s on your mind as we head into the weekend?

Matt Lauer to interview The Craigs

On Tuesday, Larry and Suzanne Craig will be interviewed by NBC’s Matt Lauer in prime time.

Will you watch? What do you expect them to say? Will it be as uncomfortable as this press conference with U.S. Sen. David Vitter and his wife, Wendy?

(Item via Talking Points Memo)

Thursday’s editorials

1. Post Falls ought to let go of its “old” City Hall. It’s not worth it for taxpayers.

2. Conservation Futures Tax is well worth the levy. It’s best way to ensure wide-open spaces.

Letter: Political panhandlers

Sometime before Nov. 6 you will be asked to go to the polls and vote. During the past three months or so, many official representatives of government groups have said they want more of your money. (…)

1. New city administration building for the Valley
2. New Valley library
3. Various school districts
4. County water treatment plant
5. New higher sewer rates (each year)
6. 10 to 12 percent Avista increase
7. Higher STA taxes
8. New county jail
9. Crime Check desk
10. Additional Valley fire stations
11. Joe Albi Stadium and city water parks, pools and others
12. More money for nature conservancy fund
13. Lowering the school levy percentage to 50 percent plus one
I know this list is not complete; I also know we need some of these things. However, please be selective when voting. These will not all be on the ballot this year, but be aware they are coming soon and most will be repeated if not passed.
Jim Barker
Spokane

Question: Is the sheer number of requests for money going to be a factor in your decision of what to approve or deny?

Endorsements: Do you care?

The Falls guy poses the question. Feel free to answer here.

Wednesday’s Loose Thread


Happy Wind’s Day. Anything you’d like to praise or pooh-pooh? Gopher it.

Letter: Parents have choices

I knew we had a winner of a letter on our hands when I received two nearly identical rebuttals upon coming into work this morning.

Saturday’s rebuttal by Democrats to President Bush’s radio address explaining his veto of the SCHIP bill featured a young man, Graeme Frost. He stated he and his sister were in a serious wreck and his family couldn’t afford private health insurance and needed state health coverage for him and his sister.

What was missing was that his parents send him and his sister to a private school with $20,000/year tuition, they live in a neighborhood of $400,000 to $500,000 homes, they own commercial property bought in the late ’90s for $160,000 and his father chooses to be self-employed and mother works for a business with no benefits.

Life is about choices! The parents have the right to choose their jobs, but responsibility for family welfare should be first in those choices. The Frosts’ state has no means test for taxpayer-funded insurance, and it appears they do have the ability to insure their kids.

Another example of Democrat misinformation for political expediency to expand SCHIP and push nationalized health care.
Michelle Brett
Spokane

I’m sure you have a reaction, too. What is it?

Spokane City Council endorsements

Here’s The Spokesman-Review’s recommendations for the November election.

Mayor: Dennis Hession

Council president: Joe Shogan

District 1: Donna McKereghan

District 2: Richard Rush

District 3: Lewis Griffin

A deadly misunderstanding

The nation needs a more accurate understanding of breast cancer, says our Monday editorial.

Excerpt:

More accurate understanding of that and other breast cancer basics would make it more likely that people will take appropriate steps to curb their chances of getting the disease that claims 40,000 lives a year in this country. And, probably of more importance, they’d be more apt to detect it early enough to get proper treatment.

Politics for $200, Alex

Answer: Because kids can’t vote.

Question: Why don’t we means-test health care coverage for seniors like we do with children?

It’s the same reason, we become efficiency experts, says Mr. Smart Bombs.

Sunday letter: Strong mayor

Fellow Spokanites, it may be time to admit that the “strong mayor” didn’t pan out so far. They have been so full of themselves that they haven’t had too much time for our problems (one exception: Jim West, roads replacement). Last year it cost us around $750,000 for a position that should pay $150,000 a year for a competent city administrator.

From the Matrix study, the advisers and the mayor himself we got some indecisions, some bad decisions (see garbage pickup on the North Side) and a lot of rhetoric. The alternative, who is for consensus, goes in a meeting and gets convinced to vote the wrong way (Dr. Kim Thorburn firing). Would you like to give her four more years of consensus? One thing we may be spared on is paying for either of these two candidates’ back injury.

(…) Would you please elect somebody that would work on eliminating this “strong mayor” system and hiring a competent city administrator? There is always the write-in option!
Adrian I. Barac
Spokane

Do you regret Spokane’s switch to the strong mayor system?

(S-R file photo)

Judge to Craig: Your guilty plea stands

Sen. Craig denied.

“Because the defendant’s plea was accurate, voluntary and intelligent, and because the conviction is supported by the evidence … the Defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea is denied,” Hennepin County Judge Charles Porter wrote.

What should he do next?

This just in: He’s staying!

And will attend when inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame.

What’s Up, Doc?

We’re sure Rep. Richard “Doc” Hastings has never heard that line before.

Anyway, our editorial today urged Doc to do the right thing in this ongoing SCHIP issue and preserve and expand health care coverage for our country’s children.

Here’s an excerpt with the complete last sentence which was chopped off the Web version of the editorial.

President Bush has vetoed the expansion. It’s just a matter of time – and a new president – before popular, bipartisan support for SCHIP wins the day. In the meantime, we trust that McMorris Rodgers and Reichert will stick with their votes as Congress seeks to override the veto. Hastings should search his conscience to do the same.

(AP Photo)

Loose Thread Friday

What’s on your fine minds this morning?

Blog lines are open.

Where’s the WMD?

The Iraq Study Group reported on that, but not to the satisfaction of those who insist they’re out there somewhere. Besides, we know Saddam had them at some point, so where did they go? And where’s the documentation?

It puzzles me that the Iraq Study Group report hasn’t settled this for some people. Is there some motivation for Lee Hamilton and James Baker III to cover this up? Baker especially would seem to have good cause to say that WMD still exist, since it would help President Bush, a family friend.

From the Iraq Study Group report:

Letter: Government done right

We’ve just opened a much-needed and beautiful elementary school on the Five Mile Prairie. (…)

I also want to express my appreciation for the city and the county working so well to help with these projects. When Mead School District asked for help, the city and county both stepped up to provide sewer and water. We all benefited from this governmental cooperation. (…)

This was done in the face of a lot of regulatory obstacles and city/county tensions. It shows how people are willing to rise above that for a greater good.

Scott L. Wetzel
Spokane

Do you have any positive stories about how the government worked the way it theoretically ought to have worked?

Iraqi refugees: Give them shelter

From our editorial today:

Very few Iraqi refugees, regardless of how much they helped our military and how desperate their situation may be, have been allowed to move to the United States. And yet, since this war began, more than 2 million Iraqis have been displaced within their country and an estimated 2.2 million have fled Iraq.
Among the most desperate are the translators and the workers who have helped contractors build and run U.S. military bases. After working for the United States, they often must live in fear for their lives as targets for insurgents…
Our president entered this war with the desire to “win the minds and hearts of the Iraqi people.” We can only do that by treating our Iraqi friends with fairness. That includes finding homes for the most deserving in cities across the United States – including here in the Inland Northwest.

(Thousands of Iraqi refugees gather outside the offices of a UN refugee agency in Damascus, Syria. Photo by Bassem Tellawi/Associated Press)

The War: Could we ever rally like that again?

We had a good discussion in our edit board meeting this morning on whether the United States could ever come together again to fight a world war. Most of us have been watching at least parts of the 15-hour Ken Burns’ documentary The War.

It’s very sobering and hard to watch in big chunks, at least for me.

The documentary — which comes with 14 lesson plans for high school history teachers who wish to use it in their classrooms — points out how the U.S. went from a relatively minor power and world player into a superpower in the war years.

Before Pearl Harbor, the military was in marginal shape, due to the Depression, the birth dearth and isolationist tendencies. But Pearl Harbor shocked the country into action and soon, fighter planes, ships and ammunition were coming out of factories at record speed. Women worked in those factories and somehow this country figured out how to offer government run child-care centers.

Could we ever rally like that again?
Blog lines are open.

While you contemplate our question, listen to Alvin Pitmon (who works in our IT/Business Systems department here) sing “O, Beautiful, for Spacious Skies.”

(National Archives/PR Newswire photo)

Wednesday’s Loose Thread

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Blogeranto translation:

What would the world be, once bereft
Of your opinions? Let them be left here,
O let them be left.

Good morning. Blog lines are officially open.

(Icon of Hopkins by Fr. William McNichols)

The Drive at 5

Can your eye see itself?
— Ken Wilbur

Any questions — cosmic and otherwise — or comments or concerns out there as the work day ends and we commute back to our private lives?

We’re listening.

GOP losing grip on business community

We know in Washington state that organizations such as the Washington Roundtable have pushed for increased transportation and education funding, which is opposed by many Republican lawmakers.

Well, the trend is nationwide, according this this Wall Street Journal article, as business-oriented Republicans are leaving the party because of its emphasis on social issues. Disaffection with the war is another factor. Then again, Congress has even lower poll numbers than the president.

Question: Are you more or less enamored with your party since 2000?

Letters: Middle East strategies

Diplomacy is the optimal route anymore and it’s difficult for a hostile nation to remain at odds with another if a high level of decorum and kindness is shown. Iran is rightfully on the defensive as a country surrounded by American-occupied nations. It’s important to at least make Ahmadinejad feel we are a reasonable people. Israel is heavily subsidized by the U.S. and in many ways the road to peace and compromise will involve us directly.
Greg Bakr
Spokane

(…) No doubt mistakes were made during and since the invasion, not the least of which was the failure to secure munitions sites and pitiful troop levels. (…)

The world is a mean place. People like Jon Tuning, a Dr. Ron Paul supporter (“Paul for president,” Sept. 25), look through rose-colored glasses if they think these regimes want to coexist. Any sign of weakness will be exploited in Europe or here. I suggest surging the surge and letting the military do what they do best. Kill the enemy. The terrorists will get tired of being targeted.
Roger Dudley
Spokane

What’s the right philosophy to deal with a sticky Middle East situation? Death, diplomacy, other?

Indentured 101

It’s just scary to think what college will cost for anyone with kids (that would be me) by the time they graduate from high school.

Young graduates are making the equivalent of mortgage payments now.

Excerpt: “Students with no credit history and no relatives to co-sign loans (or co-signing parents with tarnished credit) were willing to bet that high-priced loans were a trade-off for a shot at the American dream. But high-paying jobs are proving elusive for many graduates.

“This is literally a new form of indenture … something that every American parent should be scared of,” said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

If you’re a parent, what’s your plan?

Selfishness or smart growth?

A lot of people in Southeast Spokane do not want big box stores in their midst. Is this just a matter of NIMBYism (Not in My Backyard) or is there a larger planning issue at stake?

It’s hardly the only example. There’s Kendall Yards/West Central. The North-South Freeway/Hillyard. Wal-Mart/Hayden, Idaho. And others.

Our Weekend Weigh-Ins

No, I don’t mean stepping on the scales at home.

I mean the weekend editorials. Some excellent ones, in my opinion, and I can say it because I didn’t write any of them! So way to go, edit- head colleagues.

Anyway, treat yourself if you haven’t read them yet. And then, it’s your turn to weigh in.

Saturday: On electronic monitoring for high-level sex offenders. We’re for it.

Prevention of sex crimes isn’t an exact science yet. It may never be.
But the governor’s decision has the potential to make life safer for Washington’s children.

Sunday: On off-duty pay counting toward city-taxpayer-paid pension for cops. We’re definitely against.

Spokane isn’t the only city in Washington that adds unofficial pay to official salaries. It’s a budget bender in Seattle, Tacoma and other cities, too. State Rep. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, says she intends to get to the bottom of this.
That’s encouraging, because the obligation for taxpayers should end when an officer’s shift ends. It’s as simple as that.

Another Sunday edit on “bait” killings of suspected Iraqi snipers by Americans.

To cleanse our reputation, it is essential that the military justice system investigate suspected wrongdoing vigorously and, when called for, prosecute…
But it isn’t enough to punish atrocities, we have to prevent them. It is up to President Bush as commander in chief and to the policymakers in Congress to demand that America’s traditional ideals be preserved. We can’t have it both ways; we can’t claim moral authority while using battlefield stress to rationalize the abuse of the human rights we claim to defend.


Sunday Letters: Be careful out there

On Sunday we saw two very different letters on a “walkable” Spokane in response to Paul Turner’s pedestrian’s perspective:

(…) The problem is that drivers here just don’t get it – pedestrians have the right of way. Drivers often seem ticked off that they’ve been forced to stop for walkers or bikers. The driver of a faded red T-bird that was two inches away from hitting me today threw his arms in the air and rolled his eyes. Are you kidding me?

In Seattle, pedestrians leisurely stroll across streets, bikers freely hog whole lanes and drivers understand. My wish for Spokane drivers is they’d get out and walk – see for themselves how hard it is to be a pedestrian in this city.

Margaret E. Kay
Spokane

But from a driver’s perspective:

Ever since pedestrians’ right of way became law, I have felt it was a bad law. When I attended grade school here in Spokane, I was taught a very smart rule for crossing a street. It was this: “Stop, look and listen before you cross the street. Use your eyes and your ears, and then use your feet.”

Drivers have to be much more alert, watching other drivers, sometimes having to see through two or three lanes of traffic for foot traffic, street light changes and making quick judgments. On the other hand, pedestrians are moving slower, don’t have to make quick judgments and are more vulnerable to being hurt by automobiles, which can be lethal. At night, it is extremely hard to see pedestrians. (…)

Isn’t it time to use a common sense approach by teaching people the little jingle I learned as a child and changing this bad law?

Marilyn Lawson
Spokane

What are your experiences as a walker/driver in Spokane?

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