Local news

Letters To The Editor


Burning very expensive practice

I got angry when I read Linda Clovis’ letter telling us - again - that grass growers haven’t found alternatives to burning yet (“Fitzsimmons is just following the law,” Sept. 10). I’ve lived here for 63 years, and what Clovis conveniently forgets to remember is that they used to grow bluegrass right here in Spokane County in the 1940s and ‘50s without burning, and they managed just fine. The fact is they have always had alternatives, but burning is a lot cheaper and easier.

Then Clovis talks about all the money the grass growers are spending on research (“over $440,000”) looking for those alternatives they already have. What she left out is the fact that all of that money comes out of our pockets - it’s taxpayers’ money. The grass growers take our money to fund their research, and you can bet that nothing gets funding which might make not burning a better deal.

Grass smoke killed a man in Pullman in 1994 and a woman in Sandpoint last year. It puts people in the hospital and makes life miserable for asthmatics. If you consider those costs, burning is a very expensive practice. It’s just that the people who pay the price don’t get the profits. George Conn Spokane

Public misled on grass burning

Linda Clovis (Letters, Sept. 10), who speaks for the grass growers’ association, tells us that the Department of Ecology does not have the authority to keep its promise to ban burning in 1998. It is not surprising to hear such rhetoric from a polluting industry.

What is of major concern, however, is that the new DOE director, Tom Fitzsimmons (after a series of private meetings with grass growers and their supporters) is now telling us the same thing. Both seem to imply that the DOE is obligated to provide grass growers with an alternative that the growers find acceptable before burning can be stopped. This is not true.

The question of the DOE’s authority was addressed by the state’s attorney general. In a 1989 memo, Assistant District Attorney Laurie Halvorson wrote that the DOE’s first obligation is to protect public health and that “a complete ban could constitute a practical alternate agricultural practice.” In fact, last year the DOE was on track to end burning by 1998. After evaluating all available information on alternatives, DOE Air Program Director Joe Williams acknowledged that “mechanical cutting and straw removal” or growing other crops were reasonable alternatives to burning. All that seems to be forgotten now.

It is a sad day when a government agency whose mission is to protect public health joins with a special interest group to intentionally mislead the public. Francis L. Mutton Veradale


Save money by eliminating trips

So the county commissioners are going to save some of my tax dollars by putting a blind man out of a cafeteria business he has been managing in the Courthouse for the last 21 years. Give me a break!

If the commissioners are at all serious about saving taxpayers some money, they could eliminate all county-paid trips to out-of-town meetings and conventions. This, I am sure, would more than make up the “rent deficit” of the Courthouse cafeteria.

By the way, I really don’t think a fast-food chain restaurant is going to provide a healthier menu. Douglas R. Berg, DDS Veradale

McDonald’s not health food

So, our illustrious county commissioners feel that the best return on the taxpayers’ money is to put a blind man out of business and force him onto the Social Security rolls. That’s logical.

The best return for a taxpayer’s buck is to give us the monotonous, warmed-over fast-food fare we can find on nearly any street or in any large store in Spokane: McDonald’s. Maybe if we’re lucky, we will get Burger King. Just don’t count on the old-fashioned hamburger stand/deli/restaurant type of food.

Most of us don’t eat greasy food on an everyday basis, and it sounds like we wouldn’t have to if we were able to regularly patronize Jim Dotson’s restaurant. I don’t know anyone, except perhaps for our county commissioners, who considers McDonald’s a health food restaurant.

These county commissioners are more of an annoyance than they are a help to our community. They seem to believe they have more power than most of us would ever want them to have. They do have the power to put a blind man out of business and onto the SSI or SSD rolls.

Personally, this taxpayer thinks she’s getting more for her money by keeping Dotson in business running his popular restaurant than by relegating him to the dole and aiding another big fast-food chain restaurant in destroying a local operation. Deborah Lawrence Hale Greenacres

Don’t put cart before the horse

Building the Lincoln Street Bridge over the lower falls would be like building a freeway through Central Park in New York City. Both ideas might reduce traffic congestion for a few weeks or months. Both ideas would get a lot of flak from the public. Both ideas would destroy features that define each city. Both ideas would make the world at large wonder about the shortsightedness of the civic leaders who approved the projects.

In a similar vein, building the Lincoln Street Bridge before the latest downtown study is complete would be like building the foundations for a skyscraper before you’ve completed the preliminary plans. Both structures would have a major impact on the final design of the city/ skyscraper. Both structures would run a high risk of being boondoggles if the final design they impact is impractical. Both structures would be monuments to the ancient art of putting the cart before the horse. Dennis R. Dickens Spokane

Now commissioners are food critics

It appears that political correctness has taken on whole new territory at the Spokane County Courthouse the cafeteria food. The commissioners, in their new role as food critics, are concerned that Jim Dotson has a limited and unhealthy selection in his cafe. To quote The Spokesman-Review, his business locale is “dingy, poorly maintained … the walls are long overdue for fresh paint.”

In all fairness to Dotson, the above critique easily applies to the entire Courthouse interior. I doubt any new owner would be able to carve out additional windows to improve the ambience. The walls are actually covered with well-preserved wallpaper.

To those in search of a healthier selection other than the vilified fried food and butterhorns, they only need look at the other available choices. I enjoy the deli sandwiches, which are a bargain that include all the extras at no additional cost. The homemade-style soup is tasty at a mere $1.75 per bowl. I admit looking forward to an occasional plate of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy.

As a blind proprietor and cashier, one must tell Dotson what the purchase item is and the denomination of the bill used in payment. It is a system of trust not often seen today. In addition, his staff is personable and welcoming.

It’s hard to understand how anyone could say with a straight face that putting a McDonald’s into the Courthouse would improve the quality of food and atmosphere. Let them go down the road for their Big Macs and pass me the meatloaf, please. Becky A. Jasper Chattaroy

Proposed addition worthwhile

I wish Dick Adams (Letters, Sept. 22) had brought up another point in regard to the constant referral to Expo ‘74 as a good example of projects that succeeded in spite of the naysayers.

Expo ‘74 was good for Spokane because it brought money into this city from sources far away. People from all over the nation came here and spent money here.

If we build a new Nordstrom, will people come here from New York to use it? Does the Arena attract visitors from St. Louis or Houston? Will people from Milwaukee come here to try the new Lincoln Street Bridge?

Indeed not; these are projects which remove money from Spokane.

The proposed addition to the Convention Center sounds like a project that will bring in money. This is something worth doing.

I think that if we get a new mayor this year, we’ll see a lot more attention paid to those projects which attend to the economic health of the city. If people are well off financially, a lot of the social problems are much easier to handle, and small business can flourish to the benefit of all. Richard T. Brown Spokane


Schools need support from parents

Tiffany Cook is a prime example of why public schools have to work extra hard to be successful. The lack of support by some parents continues to undermine the system and its primary purpose of educating children. Parents who consistently oppose policies because they personally don’t benefit are crippling the system as a whole.

Tiffany had the unfortunate circumstance of enrolling in a school that has too many students in her grade for the number of teachers available. The Spokane School District and Education Association have made decisions about class size and busing students to alleviate overcrowding. They have deemed that smaller classes are beneficial to all students and that bussing is a more cost-efficient use of taxpayer dollars than hiring more teachers.

Allowing 10-year-old Tiffany to hold the school system hostage because she didn’t get her way is sending a dangerous message to kids: If I don’t want to, I don’t have to. I’m sure this will apply to other areas of Tiffany’s life.

With Tiffany’s father going away to flight school, I’m sure he will be telling his commanding officer he’s not going. After all, Fairchild has plenty of airplanes and a nice airstrip. They should be able to accommodate his schooling needs right here.

Tiffany and her parents have several choices that would make a bad situation better for Tiffany and the schools. They have simply chosen the one alternative they can’t have at this time. The life lesson learned so far by Tiffany is that you don’t have to respect the tough decisions made by teachers or principals. Michael S. McGinnis Spokane

District should re-evaluate decision

Thank God District 81 cares about kids. If they didn’t poor little Tiffany Cook would be trapped alone in a room with no one to help her. Oh my! She is trapped alone in a room with no one to help her.

The district says it’s for her own good. The Spokane Education Association says only 29 kids per class can be taught. If these people think this is kind and supportive treatment of a child, I’d hate to see what they call terrible treatment.

No teacher, no classroom and no friends. If that’s the best decision that Ph.D. educators can make, maybe we need to reevaluate what they are doing while they are unsupervised and alone with our children. Eric P. Schaffer Spokane

Move to new school can be positive

Yes, we feel sorry for Tiffany Cook; and yes, the school district probably didn’t handle the matter very diplomatically in the very beginning.

But we, too, raised a military family of daughters (four). We, too, struggled to find the best for all four “gifted students.”

We, too, nursed their pain in leaving schools time and time again. (They each attended a minimum of nine different schools before finishing high school.) We, too, had one child moved to a less crowded school after two weeks of classes.

We, too, worried over some of the schools they attended. We occasionally chose private or parochial schools and paid the bill.

We also learned that every school and teacher has something good to give your child, or an important lesson to be learned.

We always treated every new move and new school in a positive manner. We gave great support at home, we visited classrooms, and we helped to cherish their old friends and new ones.

All of our children grew up to be happy, very adaptable, well adjusted, academically and professionally successful women with lots of friends. We hope that Tiffany’s family is not using Tiffany to satisfy their own needs. Charles and Ann Wood Spokane

District 81 flunked the math quiz

The community has given its own math assessment to District 81 and it flunked.

Here was the problem: Woodridge Elementary has two empty classrooms. It also has three sixth-grade classes with 29 students in each. Five sixth-graders are being bused for 45 minutes a day.

Some administrators said it was an overcrowding problem. No points for that answer. There are two empty classrooms.

Other administrators said it was a union contract problem. But dividing teachers against parents wouldn’t work either.

Others didn’t complete the thought process and said they’d have to hire a teacher for five students.

The correct answer is to multiply 29 times three and add the five bused students, for a total of 92 students. If you hire a teacher for another sixth-grade class, you can now divide 92 by four and put 23 students in each classroom. No overcrowding, no violated union contract and no kids on the bus.

But the district said it doesn’t have enough money for another teacher.

Sorry, out here in the real world we don’t give points for wrong answers and we don’t reward “the dog ate my homework” excuses. Jeanette B. Faulkner Spokane

Stand up for what’s right

Doug Clark’s offensive column regarding the Tiffany Cook family angered many people in this community. He basically feels that we should tell our children to accept the status quo, even if they feel it is wrong.

I want to thank the Cook family for bringing the issue of busing to my attention. A great majority of parents feel that busing young children away from their neighborhood schools is wrong. Few of us have the courage to question the system like Tiffany and her parents did.

Tiffany’s parents have taught her and other children a great civics lesson: People should stand up for what they feel is right, even if it means taking on a big bureaucratic institution. They may not always win, but at least they can say that they tried to make the system better.

Hiring more teachers is the answer to returning Tiffany and other children to their neighborhood schools. The School District’s answer to this problem is to ask an already overtaxed community for more money.

Many people have commented to me that we could hire more teachers if District 81 wasn’t so top heavy. Some of these people are current and former District 81 employees who feel that there are too many administrators.

I’m asking the school board to be fiscally responsible and carefully evaluate the number of administrators and their job responsibilities If only one administrative position could be eliminated, we could hire two new teachers, reduce class size and return Tiffany to Woodridge Elementary where she belongs! Jessica S. Jones Spokane


Gates, practice what you preach

Re: Bill Gates “preach giving” article (Sept. 18).

I find it extremely disingenuous and offensive of Bill Gates to preach giving when he purposely hires his personnel as independent contractors to circumvent providing benefits to them and their families.

Public humiliation is not riding a tricycle around the Kingdome. Public humiliation is being the richest man in the world and not doing what is ethically and morally correct. Mollie J. Dalpae Spokane

Smokers provide plenty of revenue

Could fair attendance have dropped by 23,000 because smokers decided if they were to be discriminated against that place really didn’t need the revenue? When it comes to tax paying, we are among the elite citizens, yet we’re legally discriminated against daily, even at the “fair” (somehow that word stopped living up to its meaning).

Non-smokers and non-drinkers feel so righteous about their godliness. They think we deserve to pay for everything they don’t want to pay for. How many of them realize that if they indulge in soft drinks they also pay the “sin tax” on their product? Not only that, but the sin tax is added to the shelf price of those soft drinks so they, like smokers, are paying state and local sales tax on the federal and state sin taxes. How does it feel to know you are being more than double taxed, when double taxation is illegal in this country? Not like a valued citizen, I’ll bet.

So, next time you want to make some derogatory remark to a smoker, or you feel the urge to tell a smoker how to live, perhaps you should ask yourself if you’re supporting our governments as much as they are. If you’re a business owner, ask yourself if you can afford to lose the revenue that smokers provide. Also, ask yourselves if perhaps the government really wants to eliminate smoking and lose the tax revenue, or if it’s talking out of both sides of its mouth to appease non-smokers? Marlene J. Brazington Spokane

Tags: Letters

Click here to comment on this story »



Contact the Spokesman

Main switchboard:
(509) 459-5000
Customer service:
(509) 747-4422
(509) 459-5400
(800) 789-0029
Back to Spokesman Mobile