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Letters To The Editor

Thu., Nov. 7, 1996


Drunk driver’s punishment just

In the Nov. 11 Roundtable, Debbie Sullivan claims that James Barstad’s sentence was too harsh and political. This really concerns me.

Was it a political decision for Barstad to drink an obscene amount of alcohol and intentionally get behind the wheel of an automobile, thus rendering it a deadly weapon?

I truly doubt that Ms. Sullivan has had a loved one’s life senselessly destroyed by an idiot drunk driver who only shows remorse when he is in danger of spending some time in prison. It’s very touching that Ms. Sullivan believes Barstad’s last-minute display of grief. Unfortunately, some people are dead and others are left wondering why.

One thing she doesn’t seem to comprehend is the thought of justice. Barstad’s stupid decision and childish antics afterward shows that he didn’t give a damn about human life. If it’s politics that got James Barstad put away for the rest of his life, then for once it’s good politics. Ben Foxworth Spokane

Irresponsibility is the problem

Debbie Sullivan believes James Barstad is a victim, and he is, but not of any politics. He is a victim of his own lack of responsibility.

Due to his irresponsibility, two very innocent young lives were cruelly, unmercifully wiped out. He is responsible for that, and is guilty of murder.

Arlene Giles Spokane


Child death case cries for justice

One more case of shame for our society to contend with. A boy friend torturing and killing an innocent child. This is premeditated murder and warrants life, no parole, or better yet the death sentence for the offender.

A mother can always tell if a child fears someone. What is her penalty for allowing this to happen. If this creature gets less than the maximum sentence, we should take a close look at our judicial system.

These cases cry out for justice as no others can. Lillian Fleming Spokane


Who controls union money?

Union members are being ambushed by their own unions. According to a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Harry Beck, union employees have the right to deny their union leaders monies earmarked towards political activities.

In a 1988 Supreme Court ruling (Beck vs. Communications Workers of America), it was found illegal for unions to collect and spend compulsory dues for any purposes other than collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustments. Then-President Bush ordered this ruling posted by all federal contractors. President Clinton ordered these to be torn down.

In the wake of a barrage of falsehoods and misleading statements afflicted on the electorate this campaign season, most of us still wonder how this could be going on when most do not agree with these advertisements, regardless of candidate choice. Could those AFL-CIO advertisements have been stopped? How many union members know that they can deny their union monies directed towards political activities?

Additionally, with this ruling does the current action against the Washington Education Association over spending on political campaigns truly have a chance? Craig S. Van Devender Spokane

Stand up for your rights

As a long-time Democrat, I was appalled to read what had happened to Dennis Kuespert and his son at the Gore rally (“Rally security went too far,” Letters, Nov. 2). I am ashamed that “security” would confiscate pro-life brochures; I consider this in violation of the First Amendment, and I apologize on their behalf.

However, I submit that the same abrasive actions have happened (and will happen again) at both Republican and Democratic conventions. Any political party congregates to center itself as a group; political debates and public forums would be more appropriate places to reach an opinion about a certain topic.

Kuespert’s logic was flawed when he asked that we vote Republican to protect our rights. I am concerned about losing my rights. I fear that my right to birth control and abortion will be taken away by religious politicians. Forcing religious beliefs into law creates an oppressive theocracy as bad as or worse than Communism. Not standing up for one’s rights, however, is a far greater transgression. Zaza Varela Spokane


Juvenile hall becoming boondoggle

Regarding the Martin Hall controversy (“County won’t sell bonds for juvenile hall,” Oct. 30), Commissioner Phil Harris may have appeared stunned when outvoted on the bonds issue, but I was equally stunned to read that the project’s original cost was pegged at $2.5 million based on “an unprofessional person’s” rough estimate but has now risen $3 million-plus over that amount. That puts the cost per bed at nearly $100,000.

This is truly madness. Why wasn’t a professional estimate done to begin with on this project? We’re talking about millions of taxpayer dollars here. The public should rise up in arms against this mismanaged boondoggle.

As far as accusing Commissioner John Roskelley of “not reading your materials” goes, Commissioner Harris, it appears you are one who needs to do your homework. When you’re spending this kind of taxpayer money, or any amount, you’d better show us better fiscal responsibility than this.

Credit goes to Roskelley, for actually doing his homework, standing up against this fiasco and favoring a more cost-effective and convenient 24-bed addition to the existing Spokane County juvenile detention facility. David Vogel Spokane


Hunting just doesn’t make sense

I have tried to understand, but I just don’t get it.

After reading your special section in Sunday’s paper, I thought about hunting for a while. Why do people hunt? What makes a human being want to kill an animal? It’s not self defense. It’s not for food. It’s not a rite of passage into adulthood. So, why? What makes a hunter enjoy killing an animal?

How can they not have empathy? How can they see it as fair, when the animals can only run?

I’ve heard hunters talk about how beautiful their hunted animals are, so why would they want to kill what’s beautiful? What gives them satisfaction to mount the animals and keep them in their homes? Don’t they see this as gruesome? I don’t see much of a difference of doing that than if you preserved and stuffed the corpse of a human.

I just don’t understand what makes people hunt, and I don’t think I ever will. Deborah Peterson Moses Lake


Doug Clark’s comments rude

I read Doug Clark’s (Oct. 31) column on costume hunting at Value Village and was amused until I came to the part about the green gown. His description of the gown’s former owner was very much uncalled for. His referral to her as a “matronly porker of Hefty bag proportions” was at best rude and very crass.

One of our society’s last “safe” areas of discrimination was being exercised here. It is no longer socially acceptable to make mention of someone’s skin color or nationality, but it is perfectly acceptable to make nasty comments about their body size. How is it that we can accept that human beings were created in different hues and heights, but we cannot accept that we were also made in different sizes and shapes?

Not everyone is born to be a perfect size 10. In fact, over 70 percent of the American population is above the height/weight tables put forth by our insurance industry.

Not everyone who is heavy has a weight problem, that is just the way they are. Our medical community is finding out that even though some people restrict their caloric and fat intake and increase their activity level they will still continue to be “overweight.”

I think that before we make judgements like Clark did, we need to take a look at ourselves. We need to remove the beam in our own eye before we try to take the speck out of our neighbor’s. Kathie Fiessinger Hayden Lake, Idaho


Nonsmoking parents need help

Reading “Children have minds of their own” by John Rosemond (Oct. 29) really made me see how helpless I am as a non-smoking parent of a smoking teenager.

My 17-year-old son was detained in handcuffs at the bus plaza for giving another underage teenager a cigarette. When my son told me about it he brushed it off, saying that he had taken care of it and nothing more would happen.

I received a letter from the Juvenile Court Service. I am being fined $40 and have to attend a diversionary meeting with a Juvenile Court Neighborhood Accountability Board member and my son.

I did not teach my son to smoke. The high school he attended had a smoking room for the students. There are students smoking outside all of the high schools in this city. Shouldn’t the non-smoking start at the schools since the smoking started at the schools? Shouldn’t there be stop-smoking classes for students and teachers alike in the schools? Maybe there would be lower dropout rates. B.J. McCarver Spokane

‘Cotton Patch Gospel’ superb

This past Sunday I was fortunate enough to attend the musical “Cotton Patch Gospel” put on by the Whitworth College Theatre. The show did a superb job of setting the Gospels into modern times in rural Georgia. No Broadway or professional performance I have seen surpassed the performance given by this troupe from Whitworth. Every actor and every musician gave a tremendous and enthusiastic performance that left the audience charged.

I wish that this group could go on tour so that many thousands could experience their extraordinary talents and be touched by their down to earth message. What a show! J.M. Monks Spokane

Companies should post bond

Re: ASARCO’s Rock Creek project:

ASARCO’s “experts” state that their proposed mine will be environmentally safe. Their experts may well be correct, but I look on their assertions with a jaundiced eye.

This very minute, taxes are being spent to clean up all kinds of befouled areas which are the result of “expert” procedures gone bad. If this project should go bad, our taxes will go up again to salvage (if possible) the waterways damaged by their faulty procedures. This cost, incurred by them but paid for by taxpayers, will not affect their profits one bit.

Why not protect the users of these waterways up front? Let ASARCO post a performance bond to ensure that they will pay for any cleanup required during the life of this activity. We know how much cleanup can cost. Look at the Coeur d’Alene cleanup cost. If they can’t find an insurance company to supply the bond (and that would really scare me), let them pay the state of Idaho an amount equal to one-tenth of the proposed cleanup cost if their project will last 10 years, or one-twentieth if it will last 20 years. Then all we have to worry about is that the state’s politicians and bureaucrats will set that money aside for the cleanup and not use it for something else. Hopefully, there will be no need for cleanup, and (at the end of the project) the money can be returned to ASARCO, with interest. W.W. Gollin Hope, Idaho

Stiff sentence appreciated

One of the toughest, yet most memorable sentences I received as a teenager was given to me by Judge Marano. At age 17, I pleaded guilty to minor in consumption and aiding and abetting a minor in consumption. Judge Marano threw the book at me, suspending my drivers license for 60 days and then required I spend time at the public library reading a document called “Letters from a Birmingham Jail,” by Martin Luther King. Judge Marano ordered me to report to him as to what I had learned after completing the sentence. I was angry. I thought the sentence was stupid and unfair, but reluctantly gave up my license and went to the library.

As I grumbled through the document, I began to see some truth in what the slain civil rights leader called responsibility. In short, he said that all people must take responsibility for their actions, regardless of the consequences. If an action isn’t worth being responsible for, then it isn’t worth doing.

I reported back to Judge Marano, telling him I would be happy to accept the punishment he had given me because I had broken the law. I leaned that the problem with the system wasn’t the judge who enforced the law, but rather my irresponsible behavior that was breaking it.

I am grateful for that “stiff” sentence that my mother and father - Judge Marano - gave to me, and can only pray that the others my father is trying to help will come to the realizations that I did. Matt Marano Pullman

Women also the abusers

I’ve noted that news articles continually paint men as rapists, child abusers and wife beaters. I believe we’re getting a bad rap. This is harmful to men in their relationships with women, children and the law. Unwarranted presumptions are being made that insult and denigrate men.

For example, let’s consider the matter of spousal abuse. The media use the number of reported cases to show that men are invariably at fault. The fact is, the actual behavior of the parties is considerably different from the reported cases.

Several studies indicate that women abuse men as often as vice versa, and that women are more inclined to use a weapon. Also, women are prone to start a fight then call the police, accusing the man of spousal abuse. They also report abuse where none has occurred.

Men are reluctant to report being verbally or physically abused by their wives for two reasons: 1) the police and the courts merely laugh at them; and 2) if they are taken seriously, the woman may file for divorce, resulting in the loss of a man’s home, car, children, bank account, etc. As a result, men don’t dare accuse their wives of anything.

Even if a woman is convicted of spousal abuse, she seldom goes to jail. There’s a tremendous bias toward allowing a woman to care for her children. The courts don’t believe a man’s presence is necessary, so they lock him up.

The tremendously popular “women as victims” viewpoint is a false perception and degrading to all men. Robert Michik Othello, Wash.

Tags: Letters

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