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TUESDAY, JUNE 8, 2004

Reagan had power of persuasion

SHANGHAI, China – Ronald Reagan came onto my beat a half-century ago, not as a candidate for office but as a visitor. I was working at the Bloomington (Ill.) Pantagraph, my first newspaper job after leaving the Army. Reagan, then the host of the General Electric Theater, would come to Bloomington once a year to visit the local GE plant and then go up the road to Eureka, Ill., to speak to students at his alma mater, Eureka College. Eureka was part of my beat, so I heard my first Reagan speeches in 1954 and 1955. The details have faded, but not the message. Reagan was there to tell these farm kids and small-town boys and girls that they too could accomplish any goals they set for themselves, because they had the good fortune to live in a country where freedom made everything possible.

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Sign committee must reflect all sides

It's good to examine both sides of an issue. Better still to examine all sides. But there's reason to think that a special committee studying the city of Spokane Valley's sign regulations will concentrate on only one side of the question assigned to it. All seven members have strong ties to business, including the sign business.

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MONDAY, JUNE 7, 2004

All points of view should be heard

If you run into Tyler Chase Harper, tell him thanks. Tyler will be the 16-year-old Los Angeles high school student wearing a T-shirt that says, "Homosexuality is shameful." At least that's the shirt he was wearing on April 21 when high school and college students around the country held a day of silence to show support for homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender students.

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Monday's Roundtable page discontinued

Regular readers of The Spokesman-Review's opinion pages will notice that today's op-ed page, known as Roundtable, is missing. Starting this week, on Mondays only, that space will be reallocated for news content. We will continue to devote that page to letters and other reader content Tuesday through Sunday. The question-and-answer feature "Ask the Editors" will move from Monday to Friday.

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In their words . . .

"The American people, the most generous on earth, who created the highest standard of living, are not going to accept the notion that we can only make a better world for others by moving backwards ourselves." – Former President Ronald Reagan, accepting the Republican presidential nomination on July 17, 1980.

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SUNDAY, JUNE 6, 2004

Readers should demand good journalism

I nsist on good journalism. That's the part that you, the reader, should bring to your relationship with this paper. In my previous column, I described how I saw the role of the ombudsman. This time the focus is on you and what you should expect and even demand from this newspaper. Among other things, a newspaper should provide its community a clear, accurate and reasonably complete overview of the main goings on in the world. A second general expectation is that news should be presented fairly and evenhandedly (more on the issue of bias in a moment). Newspapers should be doing other things, too, but these points provide enough for you, the reader, to respond to. Your part is, quite simply, to insist that your paper delivers good journalism to your door each day. How? Here are four suggestions.

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SATURDAY, JUNE 5, 2004

Energy regulators let people down

"Traders Gone Wild!" would be an apt name for the recorded conversations between scheming Enron energy traders as Californians suffered through rolling blackouts and power prices spiked up and down the West Coast in 2000 and 2001. The telephone recordings were obtained by the Snohomish Public Utility District, which is in litigation with Enron. They reveal foul-mouthed traders rejoicing in the misery of others as they raked in millions from their market manipulation schemes.

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M's haven't struck out with Amend

Ask Harry Amend about the future of the Coeur d'Alene School District, and he'll wax optimistic. Ask the Coeur d'Alene superintendent about the district's new Bridge Academy dropout retrieval, and he'll tell you how much he appreciates patrons who are willing to pay extra to make sure no high schooler is left behind.

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Tenet leaving should start debate

WASHINGTON — George Tenet's resignation as CIA director does little to solve the many inherent problems plaguing U.S. intelligence, say former spies, lawmakers and experts pushing for a broad overhaul of how spy agencies operate. Tenet's decision to leave next month paves the way for a debate over how to resolve those issues.

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Jesuit Volunteer grateful for year at Spokane's House of Charity

One of my favorite things about working at the House of Charity is that whenever I walk downtown I feel like the most popular guy in Spokane. I run into patrons who recognize me. Strolling through the park, I receive a friendly nod or someone asks how I'm doing. At the library I once overheard, "Hey, it's that dude from the House of Charity." I love that I have gotten to know the people I serve and they have gotten to know me. I cherish the moments I see people away from the shelter setting, which allows a more human connection with those at the House of Charity.

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FRIDAY, JUNE 4, 2004

WW II vets overwhelmed by gratitude

I t's probably safe to say that few, if any, of the more than 100,000 World War II veterans at the dedication of the impressive memorial in Washington, D.C., over the Memorial Day weekend expected thousands of young Americans to tell them they appreciated what the ‘'Greatest Generation" had done for their country. My wife, Vi, and I didn't.

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Enron tapes more than just foul

AUSTIN, Texas – CBS News has acquired tapes of Enron employees boasting about how they were "*** over" California during the late, great "energy crisis" there. My favorite segment in these charming conversations is the dismay at Enron when local utilities try to get the money back. "They're *** taking all the money back from you guys?" inquires an Enronite. "All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?"

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In-your-face political discourse a loser

Promiscuousness in political discourse seems rampant in the countryside. It can be rather one-sided and rude and turns up when you least expect it. For example, my wife and I go to an antiques store housed in an old barn, a place that fairly reeks of Americana. But if you leave an e-mail address after making a purchase, as is customary these days, you later get a message from the store exhorting you to join a "Bake Bush" sale, sponsored by MoveOn.org, a left-wing group working to defeat the president.

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Input sought on gorge

Almost 100 years ago, the Olmsted Brothers recognized the Spokane River Gorge as a valuable community treasure worth preserving as an accessible greenbelt for generations to come. Since 1997, Friends of the Falls has worked to achieve this vision. In a public design process begun by Friends of the Falls, the Great Spokane River Gorge Strategic Master Plan (SMP) project will host a community workshop on Monday, 6 to 9 p.m., at the Falls Room of the Masonic Temple, 1108 W. Riverside Ave. The purpose of this public workshop is to "capture increasingly specific input into the Spokane River Gorge SMP, a process working toward defining short-, medium- and long-range projects and programs for the Spokane River Gorge area between Spokane Falls and the river confluence at Hangman Creek."

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THURSDAY, JUNE 3, 2004

Educators missing point of WWII

I wore them as he did, next to my flesh. I was, after all, born of his flesh. The World War II-era dog tags of Clinton S. Thomas with his serial number and blood type stamped on them look as they did then. This metal hasn't tarnished. Neither will his reputation, nor that of every other member of "the greatest generation" whose memorial was dedicated Saturday in Washington and in whose memory this son sat with thousands of other surviving peers. Dad died in 1983, and so I proudly represented and honored him at the joyous and solemn ceremony. In the midst of terror warnings, tens of thousands blanketed Washington's beautiful Mall on a perfect spring day and were reminded that history can be a powerful teacher and a compelling example.

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