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Letters To The Editor

SATURDAY, MAY 17, 1997


Fen/phen can be safe, effective

There has been a lot of information and misinformation in the media lately about weight loss using prescription medications referred to as fen/phen.

Phentermine and Fenfluramine can form the basis of a safe and successful weight reduction program when the patient’s health is closely monitored. Even long-term reduction can be achieved when these medications are combined with nutrition, fitness and self-awareness education.

Fen/phen has well-documented side effects in some patients, such as increased thirst, elevation of blood pressure, sleep difficulty and drowsiness. These side effects can be minimized by medically monitoring the dosages given.

The well-publicized lung disorder associated with these medications actually is very rare. Medical research over the past eight years has determined that only one person in 40,000 using these medications develops this condition. This compares to one woman in 12,500 between the ages of 30 to 39 who dies from use of common oral contraceptives, or the one in 3,000 women in this age group who dies from complications of pregnancy.

In the United States alone, over 300,000 people a year die from conditions directly related to obesity. Medical research has discovered that obesity is often caused by inherited factors that can be treated with medications such as fen/phen, which currently is the best medical technology available.

No medication is 100 percent risk-free. The benefits as well as the risks of using any medication must always be considered. Cheryle R. Hart, M.D. The Women’s Workshop, Spokane

Big vehicles need room to turn

On behalf of Spokane Transit Authority’s professional drivers and staff, I’m responding to Ted Beadle’s letter, “Trucks, buses making illegal turns” (May 10).

In fairness to the writer, our staff consulted the state law, and RCW 46.61.290 states, “… both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the righthand curb or edge of the roadway.” For buses and tractor trailers to make a safe and legal right turn, the vehicle must swing outward when approaching many corners. This allows proper completion of the turn and avoiding the opposing traffic lane or going over the curb.

The problem occurs when another vehicle tries to squeeze past, usually between the turning bus or truck and the curb. The predictable result is damaged vehicles, dented egos and assumptions that the bus or truck driver is wrong.

Professional drivers are trained to be aware of vehicles and people around them, to signal all turns and to constantly check their mirrors. These aren’t foolproof guarantees, and nothing substitutes for good judgment and patience by all drivers on the same road. All we ask is understanding.

Long wheelbase vehicles cannot turn as tightly as shorter wheelbase vehicles. And it simply is not safe to try to squeeze past a large truck or bus that’s turning. Let the truck or bus finish its turn - it’s safer for everyone. Robert Allen Schweim, executive director Spokane Transit Authority

Common driving moves dangerous

In response to Ted W. Beadle’s May 10 letter, “Trucks, buses making illegal turns,” I, too, have wondered why semi-trucks and buses are allowed on city streets when the street was not designed for their size. They are indeed breaking the law when they make a right turn into the farthest lane. But he notes, “Imagine how a regular citizen who did that would be treated.”

Well, a “regular” citizen is an everyday culprit. Drivers do two illegal things on a continual basis:

1. As mentioned, making a right turn into the farthest lane instead of the lane closest to the curb, many without even signaling. Some even cross three lanes. This is ignorant, lazy driving.

2. Going around a car stopped in the road, waiting to make a left turn, making two lanes out of one. Similarly, there’s squeezing by a car that is going straight ahead to make a righthand turn.

These practices endanger cars and pedestrians. It’s ignorant, lazy driving. If there is no white line on the road, the road is one lane, no matter how wide that lane is, and going around a stopped car is illegal.

A driver saves little or no time making these moves and puts everyone in danger. I hope drivers will read this and realize what they are doing. Marc A. Pecora Spokane

Have it your way - and pay

The writer of a recent letter complaining about trucks making wide turns in town person needs to be educated as to the consequences of this complaint.

If you don’t like trucks in town, that’s OK. We can deliver our freight to a local warehouse outside of town and it can deliver this freight for us. But be prepared to see your consumer prices go up as much as 30 percent at the checkout counter, to cover the additional handling charges for the smaller trucks.

If this person can show us drivers how to turn a corner staying in the near lanes, please schedule a class. After all, 75 feet of truck is a little hard to make city corners with. But as professionals, we are always eager to learn more about the safe operation of our trucks. D.L. Hahm Spokane


Pass Medical Lake bond issue

On May 29, voters in Medical Lake School District will consider a bond issue to modernize and expand the Medical Lake High School facility. This issue is critical to the future of Medical Lake schools.

The existing high school is overcrowded. We are using nine portable classrooms and the student population is growing. This bond issue will allow for construction of approximately 15 new classrooms, a new music classroom, new auxiliary gym and new auditorium.

In addition, the existing facility will be completely modernized to include upgrading of wiring for technology, electricity and telephone. Core facilities such as the kitchen and the cafeteria will be improved.

The projected cost is $14.2 million, consisting of $7.6 million from the state and $6.6 million from local taxes.

Modernization and expansion of the high school, especially the new auditorium, will be welcome additions to the community - a community that has always supported its schools.

To pass the bond and ensure validation, a large voter turnout is needed. I encourage people to vote yes on Tuesday for the Medical Lake bond issue and show their support for the children in our community, now and in the future. Peggy E. Schweikhardt, president Medical Lake School Board

Magnet school: Adjustments necessary

Spokane’s magnet school will be really great for the fifth and sixth graders it reaches. Giving a chance for those talented or gifted in certain academic areas to excel will help them maximize their potential, but there are drawbacks.

Adjusting to a different structure and losing friends will be hard for the fourth graders who attend the magnet school for fifth grade, and for the sixth graders who will leave to attend a regular junior high.

More also needs to be done with finding gifted children because many more are gifted than are recognized as gifted.

Making changes like this may mean expanding the school, which would be costly. But a child’s education should be important enough to spend that extra money. Libby J. Mewhinney Spokane

Kids need fitness training

I am responding to Scott J. McCann’s letter, “PE - who needs it?”

The kids need it! I often look at children today and compare them to my peer group of 20 years ago. The difference is the size of them. Children are considerably larger than they used to be.

Fast food, working parents and TV are big contributors to the problem. How many kids go home after school while their parents are still at work, have a snack and sit, glued to the TV, for countless hours until mom or dad comes home?

How many parents after a busy day want to cook dinner? McDonald’s here we come.

Beside the fact that if children are required to sit in a classroom for six or seven hours straight, they start to get very restless. When do they get to use their pent-up energy? No wonder they have behavior problems.

As an adult who will always battle a weight problem, I feel PE should be changed to PFL: Physical Fitness for Life. That means teaching students why it is important to be fit and introducing them to many activities that will help them stay fit for the rest of their lives.

If the teacher’s not setting up the class so everyone plays a game at the same time, the teacher should rethink the purpose of the class and include everyone.

The mind was made to be expanded and the body was made to be active. What better time to encourage kids to be active? Dawn M. Shepherd Spokane

Gang threat can be countered

Youth violence has begun to affect the Pacific Northwest, but according to a 10-step prevention program written by Anthony Mararty, assistant principal at Rich High School, and Thomas W. Fleming, a police officer with the Forest Police Department in Chicago, those problems can be decreased.

They have identified 10 strategies for addressing the problems of gang influence in schools. They say, “In fact, schools that follow these strategies will become the one place where young people can be guaranteed safety and full protection from a problem that has plagued our society for too long.”

Here are their gang-prevention strategies:

1. Be honest. Admit to the potential for problems in your school.

2. Get smart. School executives need to become aware of the myriad of gang symbols and paraphernalia.

3. Identify your school’s leaders and get them on your side.

4. Don’t close your doors at 3:15 p.m.

5. Work with the police.

6. Involve transfer students.

7. Educate your teaching staff.

8. Get parents on your side.

9. Find role models.

10. Provide career counseling for marginal students.

If Spokane schools were to use this prevention program, the results would be great. It would not affect the schools’ budget, while improving the learning environment for many students and making it more safe. Spokane and all of the Pacific Northwest should take the time to look over this 10-step gang prevention plan. Kate Piotrowicz Spokane

Let schools set no-smoking example

Every day in the United States, 3,000 adolescents and children become regular smokers. It’s no surprise, then, that over 400,000 people die annually of smoking-related diseases.

Schools, and society as a whole, are not doing all they could to protect these young scholars from the dangers of tobacco use. As organizations, schools demonstrate social norms and are a natural place for students to learn about not only reading, writing and arithmetic, but also the dangers of tobacco use. Because tobacco companies prey on children so much, showing smoking as cool and glamorous, these young people need a positive role model to educate them on the consequences of smoking.

Maybe if adolescents and children had this kind of positive influence in their lives, 3,000 wouldn’t start smoking today and every day. Angela M. Badcon Spokane


Real loss is common sense, decency

I would like to add something to Carl Van Amberg’s May 9 letter. He laments the loss of the willows in Manito Park due to the risk factor that perhaps someone will be injured by a falling tree or limb. Insurance costs make it prohibitive to let them stand, we are told.

What really makes a multitude of life’s joys and experiences unattainable in this day and age is the litigious society that our legal profession has been able to create. With almost 1 million attorneys in practice and more coming, it will only get worse. When a rich country like ours spends over 2 percent of its gross national product on court fees, something is definitely wrong.

How many times have you heard the statement, “We can’t do that anymore because we’re liable to get sued,” or “Insurance costs no longer make it possible because of the risk?” Yes Spokane, we have lost most of the willows in Manito Park. But actually, we have lost far more than the trees. James A. Nelson Spokane

For some, being humane ignores babies

I read with interest the Mothers Day Street Level commentary (“You don’t really know until you get there”) and I agree with Micha’el Alegria’s point about motherhood beginning when she sees the pink dot on the pregnancy test. Babyhood, or more correctly personhood, also begins at that time.

Some “mothers” choose to eliminate the young person’s life after they see the little pink dot. I wonder if Mothers Day ever brings a tear of regret to their eyes.

I also noticed that on the same page, five out of 14 letters were an outpouring of disgust on how the cougar capture was handled. I, too, hate to see an animal suffer, although animals do not have an eternal soul. There must have been many more letters that were not printed.

I wonder how much more the outcry would have been if the cougar had been a female with four or five cubs that were also killed.

Several months ago, a Tacoma man threw his small baby out of a third-story window while having an argument with his wife. I don’t recall a single letter to the editor about that incident.

Does anyone even know how many millions of human babies, who do have an eternal soul, have been sacrificed because of pride, shame, selfishness or convenience, to the god of abortion? It really amazes me to see how much we focus on the animals and how little we focus on humans, for whom God created everything else. Forrest R. Fichthorn Spokane

Rights of gays should be protected

I recently saw a letter to the editor by a man who opposes gay rights. His letter made me reconsider my liberal views on the subject, but I came to the same conclusion I held before: Gays and lesbians are human beings and deserve to be given the same rights as all Americans.

People who would take away the rights of a fellow citizen because of his or her sexual orientation need to be prevented from being unjust.

Most anti-discrimination laws protect minorities but, unfortunately, not gays and lesbians. Gay rights laws are needed to protect Washington citizens who are homosexuals, too.

Initiative 677 has been proposed to protect the rights of gay and lesbian Washingtonians. Also called the Employment Nondiscrimination Act of Washington, I677 states that, “Because a person’s sexual orientation bears no relationship to one’s qualifications or ability to perform one’s job, employers … should not base employment opportunities … on a person’s sexual orientation.” This much-needed law would prevent gays and lesbians from being denied jobs because of the bias of employers.

If Washington wants to continue to make progress with the issues of acceptance and diversity, citizens need to protect the rights of all minorities, even gays and lesbians. Initiative 677 should be an example of that protection. Marian Thorpe Spokane

Traditional family not a must

Before Don Otis of Sagle, Idaho (Letters, May 8) gets too smug in assuming that only conventional, two-parent families can produce successful, well-adjusted children, I would like to say that I am a single parent and my children are not the suicidal, drug-addicted, losing thieves he describes.

I believe any child who is loved at home, regardless of by whom or by how many, has every chance of being as upstanding as the child who is raised in your so-called traditional family. Nadine J. Presta Spokane

Fathers Day - it works for me

I note with interest Angela H. Eudaley’s pathetic little letter of May 11, suggesting we “remove Father’s Day from the calendar.” Why not Mother’s Day, too, Angela? You could use the same argument.

On June 15, I will choose to honor my father, husband, sons and son-in-law. Kathryn G. Korkus Spokane

Tags: Letters

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