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A Matter Of Opinion

Archive for April 2008

Bloomsday: Don’t try this at home

The effort is already under way to make sure the streets are clear for Bloomsday this Sunday. Love it or hate it, Bloomsday is a unique international claim to fame for Spokane. I heard about it long before I became a resident.

Do you run/walk Bloomsday? Do you hole up at home until the storm blows over? Will you go to the one of the bookend symphony performances Saturday night or Sunday afternoon?

I’ll be out of state.

Good thing they didn’t table SCRAPS

Quite the opposite, in fact. We’re delighted that the city is finally moving toward a more efficient, consolidated approach to animal control, so that SpokAnimal C.A.R.E. can get back to the work they do best.

The commute at 4-7

I’m expanding our “Drive at 5” loose thread to fit April’s Travel Green initiative. In the effort to relieve traffic congestion and unnecessary fuel-burning, compressed and alternative work schedules are one option.

I’m not sure I want to relieve traffic congestion. I might like a slightly longer bus ride home so I can finish that last paragraph of the chapter.

What’s on your minds?

Poverty and abuse?

Jim Camden’s report of the media poll conducted in Spokane and Kootenai Counties found that most people believe there is a link between poverty and child abuse and neglect. But child advocates warn that that link should not be simplistic. All types of abuse are found in all classes, and some results of poverty, not poverty itself, are indicators of a risk of abuse and neglect.

How much emphasis should child abuse prevention efforts place on poverty and its effects?

Gas tax holiday

Too bad there isn’t a tax on pandering. McCain and Clinton are advocating a gas-tax holiday over the summer. Obama is not.

Opinion surveys have shown that the faltering economy and high gas prices are the top concerns of voters across the country, edging out the war in Iraq.

Is the price of gasoline a problem for people? Sure is. Is the answer a short hiatus? Sure isn’t. The tax holiday will increase consumption, oil company profits and undermine efforts make alternative fuel sources pencil out. Then the tax will resume. It’s a short term grab for votes that damages long-term prospects for a solution.

Oil companies love the idea. Do you?

Newcomers: What’s your definition?

We’re working on a dialogues project about the future of Spokane. We plan on interviewing natives of Spokane as well as some newcomers to see how they envision Spokane’s future.

But we have a dilemma: What constitutes a newcomer to Spokane? Is it someone who has been here one year, two years — or 20?

Blog lines are open. Input appreciated.

Guilt by Association

Here’s how I vented my frustration with how this has become a daily staple of campaign coverage.

Here’s Stanley Fish’s more erudite take.

This denouncing and renouncing game is simply not serious. It is a media-staged theater, produced not in response to genuine concerns – no one thinks that Obama is unpatriotic or that Clinton is a racist or that McCain is a right-wing bigot – but in response to the needs of a news cycle. First you do the outrage (did you see what X said?), then you put the question to the candidate (do you hereby denounce and renounce?), then you have a debate on the answer (Did he go far enough? Has she shut her husband up?), and then you do endless polls that quickly become the basis of a new round.

Meanwhile, the things the candidates themselves are saying about really important matters – war, the economy, health care, the environment – are put on the back-burner until the side show is over

One of these things is not like the other

Today’s editorial disagrees with the cookie cutter approach recently announced in No Child Left Behind: the requirement that minorities and low-income students, which are often statistically behind the curve in graduation rates, graduate at the same rate as every other group, at the risk of schools losing federal financial support — often for the programs that reach out to these at-risk students.

Thoughts? Reactions?

Difficult choices

Sunday’s Spokesman-Review tells of a musician who’s expected to die in the Seattle area, possibly within days, without a liver transplant. He’s been turned down as a candidate at least partly because he’s used medical marijuana, which his doctor permits. Knowing that much, what’s your reaction? Now read the story and let us know what your feelings are and if they changed.

Ban Playboy from military installations?

Turn-ons: The First Amendment. Common sense. History.

Turn-offs: Virtuecrats trying to control what the troops read.

Concerned that the military is selling pornography in exchange stores in spite of a ban, one lawmaker has introduced a bill to clean up the matter.

“Our troops should not see their honor sullied so that the moguls behind magazines like Playboy and Penthouse can profit,” said Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., unveiling his House bill April 16.

Are you appalled that troops don’t have to go off-base to buy Playboy and Penthouse?

Friday’s Loose Thread

Just ran my column for Saturday through spellcheck, which flagged “Obama.” One of the suggested changes was “Osama.” Geez, even Word is against him.

What’s on your mind today?

Letter: Tax cuts, tax increases, rate cuts, rate increases

Contrary to Gary Crooks’ assertion (“Deal or no deal?” April 19), the Bush administration has not reduced taxes. In 2003, the federal government took $1.78 trillion of our money in various taxes. In 2007 it took $2.54 trillion. Estimate for 2008 is $2.66 trillion. Taxes have been and are continuing to go up. Congress decreased income tax rates a few years ago, but economists acknowledge we are still on the far side of the Laffer curve. Cutting rates more would result in even larger tax collections. If Mr. Crooks wants the government to take more money, he should be advocating larger rate reductions, or at least supporting the extensions of the current rates. Calling an increase from $1.78 trillion to $2.54 trillion a cut just confuses the issue. — David Wordinger, Medical Lake

Numbers can be deceiving, manipulated in many ways. Have you found reliable sources of numbers on which you base your opinions, or do you just ignore the slinging of dollar signs and percentages between candidates and letter writers?

Thursday’s Loose Thread

We’re over hump and headed for the weekend. So what’s on your mind today?

Wed. editorial: Salary commission

A fair assessment for civic work and accountability from council members. Is that too much to ask? In Our View, it is not.

No school librarians

What if your school district announced that all librarians would be gone in three years and would be replaced by “resource specialists”? That’s what is happening in Mesa, Ariz. Here’s an article about that. A total of 87 positions will be eliminated. Replacing them will be support staff that wouldn’t be required to have teaching certificates.

Similarly, school nurses are being replaced with less-credentialed health assistants.

As we found out when The Three Moms from Spokane went to Olympia to wrest more money for school libraries, this is a national problem. It seems that districts facing budget challenges tend to target librarians.

Here is an item from the American Library Association on the cuts. Note the link in that article to the correlation between library research skills and student achievement.

Lisa Layera Brunkan, one of the Spokane Moms, brought this to my attention. Here’s their blog, which has more information on the issue.

Meanwhile, the Legislature’s joint task force on basic education funding continues to meet. That group is charged with producing a report on reforming the basic education funding formula. Deadline is December. Here’s a link to progress reports.

Police ombudsman roundup

Here’s Sunday’s article on what experts throughout the West think of the Spokane proposal.

In this oped, Breean Beggs of the Center for Justice says the Spokane plan has serious shortcomings.

In last Sunday’s editorial, we noted areas of the proposal that concerned us.

UPDATE: Bringing this back up after today’s article. Sure have some incurious leaders when it comes to this issue.

Pentagon spinners

Interesting article in the New York Times about the administration’s media campaign in the run-up to the war. They granted access to military analysts they felt would repeat the proper talking points. Those who criticized the war effort were frozen out.

Plus, many of the analysts used their positions to further their own business interests. Many worked in defense-related industries.


A few expressed regret for participating in what they regarded as an effort to dupe the American public with propaganda dressed as independent military analysis.

“It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,’ ” Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, said.

Kenneth Allard, a former NBC military analyst who has taught information warfare at the National Defense University, said the campaign amounted to a sophisticated information operation. “This was a coherent, active policy,” he said.

As conditions in Iraq deteriorated, Mr. Allard recalled, he saw a yawning gap between what analysts were told in private briefings and what subsequent inquiries and books later revealed.

“Night and day,” Mr. Allard said, “I felt we’d been hosed.”

The major networks don’t look so good either. They really need to revisit their ethics policies.

Anti-WASL teacher penalized

This Seattle science teacher felt so strongly about the downside of the WASL that he refused to administer the test. As a result, he was suspended without pay.

What are your thoughts about the tests?

Monday’s Loose Thread

Getting pretty fed up with the white stuff, if you catch my drift. Along with the cold weather, you can bank on seasonal affective disorder. One of the nasty side effects is an addiction to puns. It’s snow joke.

So, what’s on your mind on this cold, gray April morning?

Sunday editorials

The Bush administration has rendered itself irrelevant on climate change in setitng loose targets without any direct calls for action. Best to start over in 2009, in Our View.

We urge citizens to get involved in the city’s meetings on bicyling to ensure that we go down the right path.

Friday Pope Factoid

From Chris Bellitto’s book 101 Questions & Answers on Popes and the Papacy.

Question 35: Did a pope really condemn Galileo for saying the earth revolves around the sun?

Excerpt from answer: Kind of. The issue was less about astronomy and science than authority. The pope in question was a complex man, Urban VIII (1623-44): a very well-educated aristocrat, humanist, diplomat, patron of artists and architects and generous supporter of missions and evangelization, but also a pope guilty of nepotism, greed, absolutist tendencies, and poor political decisions.

As long as Galileo asserted the idea of the earth revolving around the sun was an experiment or hypothesis, he was left alone. When Galileo (stated the sun as center of the solar system as scientific fact) he ran into trouble because it conflicted with the church notion of the church as the center of the universe.

To jump a few centuries ahead: the rehabilitation of Galileo was one of the earliest tasks John Paul II explored. The pontifical commission he ordered to reopen the case concluded in 1992 that Galileo’s critics had misunderstood scripture and mistakenly taken it as not only fact, but religious doctrine, that the earth must be the center of the universe. As a result, John Paul II declared the church had made a mistake in condemning Galileo.

Let the sun shine

Friday’s editorial calls on federal Judge Edward Lodge to resist whatever inclination he has to exclude the public from certain sensitive portions of confessed murderer Joseph Duncan’s penalty hearings in Boise.

Sick Around the World

Anybody see the Frontline special on how health care works in other countries? It was on Tuesday night. I missed it, but will be recording the Sunday 2 a.m. rerun. You can also watch it on your computer by taking the above link.

It looked at the systems in Great Britain, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland. Some are flat-out controlled by government. Some are social insurance (like Medicare). They’re all different. They all cover everyone and have lower costs as a portion of their economies.

Here is an interview with T.R. Reid, the correspondent for the special.

Read on for the synopses provided by the PBS Web site.

Right you are

Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon wrote in her excellent book “Rights Talk” that an obsession with individual rights undermines social cohesion. An example:

“For, in its simple American form, the language of rights is the language of no compromise. The winner takes all and the loser has to get out of town. The conversation is over.”

To launch a conversation instead of torpedoing one, click on “comments” and use this post as today’s loose thread.

You can count on it

“Math is hard.”
— Barbie
Even school districts would agree, given their difficulty in coming up with consistent answers to problems involving statistical analysis. For more, read Thursday’s editorial.

Lethal and legal

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 today that lethal injection is constitutional. Here’s one news account.

There oughta be a law (school)

Here’s a switch: The Inland Northwest has a prized institution that the poulation hub in one our states — Idaho — doesn’t. A law school. Wednesday’s editorial backs the University of Idaho’s proposal to share the wealth by opening a branch in Boise.

Letter: Road construction season

A letter a few days ago complained about road repairs being done on a very busy street during rush hour. Today’s response to him reminded me of part of an e-mail forward I saw the other day, which listed several “You know you’re from the Northwest if…” items:

29. You know all the important seasons: Almost winter, winter, Still Raining (spring), Road Construction (summer), Deer & Elk Season(fall).

Do you take road construction season in stride or do the inconveniences irritate excessively?

For the hard to please

In case we haven’t posted enough comments so far today to whet your blogging appetite, here’s Tuesday’s loose thread. Give us a blast of what’s on you mind.

Our kids, our business — my question

How willing is our culture to take steps necessary to prevent child abuse? Sterilization?
I have to confess that the daily stories we’re seeing about the vulnerability of kids are largely familiar. We’ve heard most of them before — a number of times.
We also know that numerous government and non-profit agencies are working earnestly on prevention and intervention. Yet they can do only so much.
People who work with small children from dysfunctional homes — teachers, counselors, social workers, law enforcement officers — can point to families where child abuse and neglect are a pattern, where nothing has been shown to work and where the pregnancies keep coming.
If we balance the right of a child to be raised in a healthy environment against the right of a parent to pursue happiness between the sheets, why are we so reluctant to promote sterilization of demonstrably unfit parents?
I’m talking about extreme cases here, but I expect there will be those who are gasping, even now. One of the first words they are likely to utter once they regain the ability to speak will be “fascist.”
But consider: We sentence child molesters to prison, then, when the sentence has been served, we require them to register the rest of their lives. We do that, even though they have paid the prescribed penalty, because of what we know they are likely to do in the future. A serial rapist like Kevin Coe (who ultimately was convicted of only one rape) can even be returned to prison after serving his full term.
In extreme cases where parents have made it clear that future children will be subject to abuse or neglect, why shouldn’t the law require sterilization — fathers as well as mothers?

County GOP platform

Heard this joke this morning about party platforms: “The platform is what’s left behind when the train leaves the station.”

The Spokane County Republicans came up with their platform over the weekend. Among other things, it rejects the current war policy.

Hmm … when non-Republicans do that their patriotism is challenged.


The fight on war policy was one of the few debates over the county platform, a statement of principles that shows where activists stand on issues but is not binding on candidates. Planks that oppose abortion, euthanasia and gay rights; call for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations and the North American Free Trade Agreement; seek to eliminate the state Business and Occupation and inheritance taxes; and aim to get rid of Washington Assessment of Student Learning tests passed without debate.

Love it or leave it at the station?

Jamie’s Sunday Column

I miss having Jamie Tobias Neely as a colleague here. But the now EWU journalism prof still graces our pages once a month.

In her Sunday column, she skillfully showed the link between early childhood trauma and adult chaos/illness/despair.

Researchers were studying obesity among employed middle-class Kaiser Permanente members. Running through a list of questions with a severely overweight woman, one of these researchers misspoke. Rather than “how old were you when you were first sexually active?” he asked, “How much did you weigh when you were first sexually active?”

Her answer: “Forty pounds.” Her father had raped her.

Researchers asked more questions. Before long, they realized that many of the subjects who lost weight only to quickly regain it had been sexually abused.

After that the research expanded to eight painful childhood experiences, such as having a father in prison or the mother treated violently. The study’s co-authors have come to realize these stories are far more common than most people would ever imagine.

They found that a traumatic childhood was related to higher rates of alcoholism and heart disease. A man with six of these experiences was 4,600 percent more likely to become an IV drug user than one with none.

Monday Pope Factoid

Just in time for the pope’s visit to the United States comes the book “101 Questions & Answers on Popes and the Papacy” by Christopher M. Bellitto of Kean University.

(Disclosure: Bellitto is also an editor for Paulist Press and did a fine job editing two books on marriage which I co-authored.)

If people think the modern Catholic Church is filled with turmoil and controversy, nothing compares to the church in former times. So this week, I’ll excerpt some of the questions and answers from Bellitto’s pope book.

Question 29: I know that Martin Luther comes along at some point and says that the papacy is the Antichrist. Why did he say this?

Excerpt from answer: We should begin by acknowledging the Renaissance papacy as one of the low points in church history in terms of the quality of men sitting on Peter’s throne. Caricatures of popes from wealthy families the Medici, the Borgias, and others with mistresses, children and grandchildren are based in hard fact and incontrovertible evidence.

It is something of a rogues’ gallery…Leo X (1513-21), famously — or infamously — said that if God saw fit to make him pope, the least he could do was enjoy it…Popes made their children and granchildren, some of them only teenagers, into bishops and cardinals.

To read about the last straw for Martin Luther, read the rest of the entry.

Heating up

Monday’s editorial questions a regulation under consideration by the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries regarding heat-related illness.

Morning combo meal

Consider this both your weekend loose thread and your link to Saturday’s editorial.

Keo Chronicles: April 12, 1945

(AP Archive photo)

This afternoon we were startled and shocked to hear of the death of President Roosevelt. Eva first heard it in the drug store. When we turned on the radio, every station was buzzing with the news and commercial programs were canceled.

And there’s been continual dissertations on the life of Mr. Roosevelt, also Mr. Truman who now takes his place and took the oath of office without delay.

Three inch headlines appeared in this evening’s Chronicle — “Roosevelt Passes” — there seemed a tense feeling gripping the world. What lies ahead — will President Truman be a big enough man to steer the ship. How is this going to affect the war?

Io and Fred had a duty to perform today in the laying away of their janitor in Greenwood Cemetery. All arrangements for funeral fell on them.

Tomorrow, April 13, will be the 10th anniversary of my great loss. I must carry on, even though there will be shadows.

Pass the rose bud bong, dude

(S-R photo by Jesse Tinsley)

From our editorial today

The Spokane City Council should have shown more thoughtfulness Monday when it adopted a feel-good ordinance that even the attorney who drafted it said won’t keep people from using drugs. What began as a proposal to ban the sale of novelty items, including glass tubes convenient for smoking dope, quickly grew into a long list of mundane items that become contraband when marketed under a complex set of conditions that qualify them as drug paraphernalia.
The discussion that preceded the 6-1 council vote was couched largely in terms of sending a message and taking a stand. No one on the council nor among the citizens who commented offered evidence that this approach will reduce drug abuse.

Feel good legislation or drug deterrent? Blog lines are open.

Drive at 5

Well, I’m just about to pack up and leave West Central. The day sped by.

Once upon a time, I wanted to do a one-minute story project. Set up a booth, a computer and invite people to tell us their one-minute stories.

Today, it felt like I came close to that ideal. People sat down and told their stories of this center. I learned much more than can blog here.

Thanks West Central, for your hospitality. Keep up the great community work.

Disability Programs: Everyone counts

Beverly Nunn is the program director for three programs here at West Central that serve people with disabilities. They are Pathways to Employment/Community Access and Learning Skills Center.

The programs have about 90 to 95 participants, ages 16 to almost 90.

A community center should include programs for people with disabilities, because they are community members who can contribute in many ways.

Beverly said, “We’re one car ride away from being in a wreck and being disabled ourselves. We should always respect people with disabilities. We’re no better than them.”

“In my book, they have as just much right to be valuable citizens. And they do. Do I love them? Yes.”

West Central Coalition: The power of many

Don Higgins just walked by and told me this:

One of our functions is to work on special projects and in order to do that, we created the West Central Area Coalition. It’s a coalition of the area schools, the health and social service providers, area churches and other interested agencies. There are about 30 members. The coalition meets the fourth Thursday of every month. In addition to sharing information of what’s happening in each other’s venues. Everyone is kept up to speed.

The coalition was created by Lori Dolan and myself about 10 years ago.

We information share and work on special projects. The very first and most successful has been the celebration of kids summer festival. The most recent one has been the issue of predatory lending and the foreclosures of low-income people in West Central. The coalition put together a safety net for Louise Stamper and her family. The family was a victim of predatory lending. Through the coalition’s efforts we were able to make connections to legal and social service agencies.Salem Lutheran Church and Simpson Realty were both real helpful.

We put together resources to find her a rental house that is handicap accessible. The coalition voted to support an application for Habitat for Humanity to get her a home in West Central. She’s been such an advocate for the neighborhood.

You can accomplish much more when you have more organizations involved. You have much greater access to resources. The help of many perspectives sharing problem solving. So you get much more creativity in solving problems.

How your federal income tax dollar is divvied up

Check out this slideshow.

42.2 cents for military/defense

22 cents for health.

10 cents interest on national debt.

3.3 cents on housing assistance/community development programs.

4.4 cents for elementary, secondary and higher education and employment training centers..

1 penny goes to foreign affairs, including foreign humanitarian assistance.

Sound about right to you?

Famous Photos

I’m sitting here with Ella Horseman. She’s a teacher’s aide here in the Head Start program. Her hobby is going to events and concerts where famous people will be, mostly at Northern Quest Casino.

She’s raising her grandchildren. Her daughter died in 2005. She says she doesn’t have too much time for a hobby, except for this.

(Ella, far left, with Kevin Bacon.)

She showed me her collection of photos:
Rick Springfield
Air Supply
Tony Orlando
Kool and the Gang
Little River Band
Rita Coolidge
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Kevin Bacon
Christian Slater

Which leads to my question: Any other famous celeb people out there? And does the fact that Spokane has the casino — and more movies shot here — helped with this hobby.

P/S I’d post some of her photos, but I’m not having much success posting photos remotely.

Eavesdropping on Leonard Pitts Jr.

Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr., whose work appears in The Spokesman-Review, has begun holding weekly on-line chats at You can read some excerpts from this week’s session by clicking on the rest of this post. For those who want to check it out for themselves next Wednesday, Pitts chats from 10 to 11 a.m. Spokane time.

West Central: See you there

Thanks to blog regular commenter, JeanieSpokane for giving address and directions for West Central.

It’s at 1603 N. Belt, which is on Spokane’s Near North Side.

If you know where Bloomsday’s Doomsday Hill is, well the Community Center is right at the top of the hill.

The phone number there is 326-9540. Don Higgins, who runs the place, will know where I am in the building or how to get a hold of me.

This is a first outing for our blog. Thanks to DFO, Mr. Huckleberries, for leading the way in this. He’s blogged “remotely” many times. Will be set up with a laptop and data card and hope all goes well with that! I’ll be ready to go by 10 today and remain there until 5. Drop by…

Live blogging at West Central Community Center

Instead of the Drive at 5, this announcement:

A Matter of Opinion will be blogging live from the West Central Community Center from about 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow.

Come visit or look for frequent posts from that locale.

Until tomorrow…

Police ombudsman: It’s a go!

“The City and Guild have reached a tentative agreement for the creation of an ombudsman to provide external oversight of the SPD,” Marlene Feist just informed us in a City Hall press release.

Among the highlights in the agreement, the ombudsman would have the authority to:

Take complaints directly from citizens.

Determine whether investigations of officers are thorough, complete, and fair, and call for additional investigation when warranted.

Recommend mediation between police and a citizen when the ombudsman deems that is the best way to resolve a complaint.

Read our March 23 editorial urging this action.
To read the rest of the press release, and the agreement, go to read rest of the entry.

Loose Thread Wednesday

The roofs are shining from the rain,
The sparrows twitter as they fly,
And with a windy April grace
The little clouds go by.
Yet the back yards are bare and brown
With only one unchanging tree—
I could not be so sure of Spring
Save that it sings in me.
Sara Teasdale

What sings in your mind this morning?
Blog lines are officially open, this rainy April morn.

Keo Chronicles: April 10, 1945

(Keo in her powder room, circa 1940s)

Mildred and her mother called this eve — they were on their way to the P.T.A. at Bancroft School. I started the ice box cookies today for the tea.

A simple entry, but I am intrigued with the drop-in visitors on their way to the parent-teacher meeting at Bancroft. What were those meetings like in 1945? Any guesses?

Bancroft is now a North Side alternative school. From its Web site, comes this history.

The original Bancroft School was built in 1886. It had four rooms and was named for a wealthy San Francisco businessman and book collector, Hubert Howe Bancroft.

In 1891 a new Bancroft Elementary school was constructed and operated as an elementary school until 1960. The old schools was condemned and a new building constructed in 1961.

From 1981 to 1987 the school was leased to the Community Colleges and housed the adult basic ed program among other programs.

From 1987 to present it has been home to a variety of Spokane Public Schools special programs.

*What are the Keo chronicles? See extended entry.

Verner: Just one right-hand man

Our editorial today suggests that Mayor Mary Verner should stick with just one second in command. Mark Early, her former chief of staff, resigned last week. This leaves Ted Danek, city administrator.

The money savings, our edit said, should be spent on another priority:

Now, after four months of experience, the difficulties that led Earley to make a break suggest that the system has some inherent flaws, especially when it relies on constricting salaries below what it might take to attract top-rate people to either the elected or appointed jobs in the future.

Even more significant, there are other needs for which affordability is an issue, starting with a long-needed police ombudsman position, which, assuming police union resistance can be overcome, comes with a $200,000 pricetag.

Verner has been looking for a way to trim that cost, but the value of restoring police credibility in Spokane is too pressing to hold out for bargains. At the least, a properly funded ombudsman should be a highter priority than a mayoral chief of staff.

Share your experiences of working for two “second in commands.” Did it work?

Drive at 5: World ending in 2012?

(Poster from On the Beach, the 1950s film in which the world ends in 1964 due to nuclear war.)

Hah! Did I get your attention? Pretending to be a blogger whose livelihood depends on hits. (Shouldn’t joke. Could happen!)

Anyway, on your way home, ponder this: There are several predictions that the world will end, finally, in 2012. I first heard about it over the weekend in a History Channel documentary, but I am way behind the doomsday curve.

Read the USA Today story about the predictions.

So last question of this day: You have four years left. Plans?

Seattle Times to lay off 200 staffers

Is there some sad irony in the day the Pulitzer Prizes are announced, huge layoffs are also announced at The Seattle Times?

Staff members who attended a meeting with Executive Editor David Boardman said they were told about 45 newsroom positions would be eliminated. At least 16 employees will be laid off, and the number could be as high as 30, they said, depending on how many newsroom employees opt to leave voluntarily with a severance package.

Read story here from the Seattle Times here.

Does blogging kill?

Here at The Spokesman-Review, blogging is still a fairly optional process. Those who are interested can usually blog. But except for Dave Oliveria, who works full time at his wildly popular Huckleberries blog, the rest of us have taken blogging on as an additional duty.

We do get daily and weekly reports, courtesy of Dave, on blog hits, but so far, our jobs don’t depend on the number of hits. For many bloggers, this isn’t the case. They blog to make money. Is it killing some of them? Matt Richtel of The New York Times raised the question in a Technology page article:

Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.

To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style.

Raceway memories: Worth keeping?

(S-R file photo)

Our editorial today urged County Commissioners to really consider whether a raceway park purchase is in the best interest of most citizens.

When county commissioners meet Tuesday, they should ask themselves if the best role for them is to tie up millions of tax dollars acquiring and refurbishing a motor sports facility or, instead, to stand ready to cooperate with a private-sector buyer who will make the investment, be a responsible owner and show better management practices than those who landed Spokane Raceway Park in its current dilemma.

I went to a race just once out there, as a junior in high school, I believe, with a boyfriend who was really into it. I came from a family of readers and TV watchers, so this sport was quite thrilling to behold. I never returned, though.

Have you ever been to Spokane Raceway Park? Memories or comments, please. Blog lines are open.

Our view: Give a life

Recent organ donation stories prompted us to urge awareness and involvement in organ donation. Many people die while on the waiting list for a transplant; many die without having signed an organ donor registration.

Nevaeh was able to save lives even when she tragically lost hers. Could you do the same?

Loose thread

We haven’t gotten as many letters as usual, nor have we seen as much blog traffic this week as heretofore. I hope that means everyone is enjoying the spring-break weather outside. Keep an eye out for what you might want to share when you get home on today’s loose thread.

Today’s editorial: Travel Green

(Mike Prager/S-R photo)

STA and other entities are pushing their “Travel Green” program this month, encouraging every commuter to take an alternative form of transportation at least one day during April. We hope, though, the awareness generated will create lifelong earth-friendly commuters.

Do you have a bus/bike/walk/carpool story you’d like to share?

Our view: Still homeless

(In this Brian Plonka/S-R photo, a Stevens Elementary student hurdles a pile of leaves next to a homeless camp along Napa Street, Nov. 2, 2007)

Today’s editorial urges the regional housing task force under consideration to get underway quickly and come up with real solutions. The several non-profits who have stepped up to solve the low-income and affordable housing crisis are to be applauded, but plans need to be in place for when the next housing bubble hits.

Thoughts? Reactions?

The end of racism?

If you haven’t yet, treat yourself to a read of the guest column we ran today, already referenced in the post below.

It begins:

On March 26, noted conservative scholar Dinesh D’Souza presented a lecture titled “Racism is not the Problem” at Washington State University’s main campus in Pullman. The event was co-sponsored by WSU’s Thomas S. Foley Public Policy Institute, along with the Associated Students of WSU, WSU’s Residential Housing Authority, and the WSU chapter of the College Republicans.

The question-and-answer period immediately following the talk and ensuing commentary in WSU’s campus newspaper, The Evergreen, made clear that many took offense at D’Souza’s message, going so far as to accuse D’Souza and, by extension, the Foley Institute of further polarizing the campus on the issue of race.

If you don’t know D’Souza’s take on race, you can find out quickly at his Web site. Here’s an excerpt from the review of his book The End of Racism: Principles for a Multiracial Society.”

He argues that the American obsession with race is fueled by a civil rights establishment that has a vested interest in perpetuating black dependency, and he concludes that the generation that marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. may be too committed to the paradigm of racial struggle to see the possibility of progress.

Perhaps, D’Souza suggests, like the Hebrews who were forced to wander in the desert for 40 years, that generation may have to pass away before their descendants can enter the promised land of freedom and equality.

(Photo of D’Souza from

Thoughts? Blog lines are open.

Intellectual diversity on racial diversity

The director of the Foley Public Policy Institute at WSU contributed today’s guest column, which I thought was a wonderfully written admonition to those who in practice (if not in theory) seek to eliminate the accommodation of minority opinions in the booking of guest speakers. Some people simply cannot abide intolerance.

Take a moment to read Dr. Weber’s comments if you haven’t already.
(Photo from Dr. Weber’s WSU faculty bio.)

Letter: Planned Parenthood and federal funding

On Saturday we printed a letter from Leonard Johnson regarding Baby Nevaeh and her mother’s boyfriend:

Planned Parenthood, our nation’s leading abortion purveyor and profiteer, has an effective pre-emptive remedy for children in risk of being harmed by their mothers’ rotating companions: Kill it in utero. But how can we know which of the many “fatherless” infants, having been permitted to be conceived, should be inhumanely “rescued” in advance by an abortician’s dismembering curette from the possibility of brutally violent post-natal assault?

Perhaps Planned Parenthood could use part of its annual federal government subsidy to study that question. Speaking of which, the appropriateness of that taxpayer subsidy is being questioned in Congress, which accounts for the recent flood of letters touting the “good works” of the organization bizarrely named Planned Parenthood.

Today I received a response to that letter from Planned Parenthood of the Inland Northwest’s director of public policy, Jet Tilley:

Planned Parenthood of the Inland Northwest (PPINW) is a grantee of Title X family planning funds, which are used in all of our health centers to provide birth control and family planning information to low-income people. (…) “Research has shown that every public health dollar spent for contraceptive services saves an average of $3 in Medicaid costs for pregnancy-related health care and for medical care of newborns.”

NOTE: No Title X funds are used to provide abortion services. This is expressly forbidden by all Title X grants.

One of the reasons Ms. Tilley responded to me personally, I think, is because it’s been less than 30 days since she had a letter published — and, as Mr. Johnson implied, many other PPINW staff are also still restricted by the 30-day limit.

How different the same things look from opposite sides and supposedly opposite agendas!

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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.

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