Sewer bills stink

I recently called the city of Spokane Utilities Department. Could my sewer bill really be $53? Response: “Yes, they’ve raised the rates again, and people are not happy about it.” (No kidding!)

I gladly pay $26 per month for garbage pickup. A real person drives by weekly and takes gallons of garbage to the incinerator for me: a visual process.

But where does the sewer money go? It is twice the garbage rate and does not even include the water! How could my “household of one person” generate $53 of sewage each month?

Who determines these rates?

Ellen Collyer


Bales had a bad moment

I am in no way condoning what Sgt. Robert Bales did in Afghanistan, but my heart goes out to him and his family. It goes out to him because I think all the needless crud that is coming out about his past is totally unnecessary, and I agree with his lawyer when he refuses to comment on these things as it has nothing to do with what he did to those people.

Sgt. Bales, I know you will never see this letter, but I want to say “thank you” for serving our country, for the medals that you earned, along with all the recognition. I feel that you don’t deserve what is happening to you now. I believe that you had a moment when you just snapped, and who hasn’t had those times?

You stated that you did not want to go to Afghanistan, so why did our military send you again, especially after having been deployed three times before? I believe you are a good man; you just had a moment of weakness from the things that you saw around you.

We are all human and, believe it or not, we all make mistakes. I know I have!

David Noggles

Electric City, Wash.

Pend Oreille fishing ruined

The Pend Oreille River near Usk was once a true world-class pike fishery where 20-pound fish were the norm. Unfortunately, the river no longer provides a fishing experience worthy of driving more than 20 miles for.

According to my fishing records, the Fish and Game Department campaign against pike in the Pend Oreille has been very successful. Gill-netting and excessive harvest have not only reduced the pike population but the bass as well.

My obsessive journaling documents at least a 50 percent reduction in my catch rate over the last five years, without a fish over 12 pounds in the last two years. Keep in mind that just five years ago, I caught and released 15 pike over 10 pounds along with two 20-pound fish in the same day.

Fish and Game would like you to believe that the fishery is still worth driving the long miles on $4-per-gallon gas, when in reality they just want you to eliminate the last pike for political purposes.

Instead, take my word for it and save your money by targeting other species closer to home, or take up a less expensive hobby altogether.

Brad Sonntag


Commerce clause on steroids

Abram Conrad’s March 22 letter asserts that the Constitution requires Congress to explain why contraception must not be covered by insurance without reference to religion, or be in violation of the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from establishing or restricting the free exercise of religion. I have two questions.

First, isn’t it restricting the free exercise of religion to pass legislation requiring a religious organization to pay for services it is opposed to?

Second, what part of the Constitution gives Congress the right to legislate what services are covered by insurance? Is it the “commerce clause”? Then will they also require car dealerships to include insurance with every car sold, cigarette companies to cover smoking-related medical care and fast-food restaurants to install gym equipment for adults next to the play structures for kids?

If birth control isn’t covered, grocery stores still sell personal protective devices for cheap. We can survive without an act of Congress on this one.

I believe we have more pressing issues anyway (skyrocketing debt, illegal immigration, unemployment, terrorism, etc). This is just a diversion. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Gail Oehl


Need health database

After talking to several people, and reading and thinking about it some more, I have concluded that a health database for Spokane County would be very valuable. The two main issues are security and accuracy.

The providers of information for the database, like doctors’ offices, hospitals, emergency rooms, clinics, and even the phone book and utility billing, would need absolute assurance of security and accuracy. I have personally witnessed mistakes by the medical profession. Poor communication and inaccurate information were to blame.

I have also been involved in the creation of a database. I know how well they work. The government has many of us on a database already. A medical database would mean fewer mistakes and lawsuits, which would bring medical costs down.

Candy Frankel


GOP actions speak louder

A recent rambling letter to the editor by Curtis Stone states that the Democratic Party should be listed as an extremist group because of the following:

• Because of a surge of right-wing militia groups when a Democrat is president.

• Because “many” Americans view the Democratic Party as a threat to freedom.

• Because gun sales have rocketed since Obama became president.

• Because “it is feared” that the Obama administration will soon erase the Second Amendment.

• Because a “published magazine” says that the Southern Poverty Law Center is a communist front organization.

Why should the Democratic Party be viewed as extremist when all of Stone’s reasons list the neurotic actions of the Republican right wing?

Philip Waring

Coeur d’Alene

Regulating what we see

In response to the statement Susan Young, director of Life Choices Pregnancy Center in Sandpoint, made to Idaho lawmakers: “They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This bill would require a woman to have a real picture with sound of the fetus she’s about to have removed from her body.”

That is at odds with Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s comments. He thinks seeing an ultrasound leads to abortions. “Prenatal testing does in fact result more often than not in this country in abortion.”

A bill in Kansas allows doctors to lie if they see during routine ultrasound screenings that a pregnant patient has a medical condition that could affect her or her unborn child’s life.

Some newspapers didn’t want you to see the Doonesbury comic strip that lampooned the Republican “War on Women.” They don’t want you to see the way women are being represented by their elected officials. So the newspapers (including The Spokesman-Review) censored the comic strip.

People are trying to regulate what you see to manipulate what you think.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words; sometimes a picture is worth your life; and sometimes a comic strip speaks volumes.

Elizabeth Bowman


Take back our country

Have you noticed that gas prices are rising? Have you had an increase in your Internet/TV bill in the last six months? Have you had an increase in your prescription drug prices because the drug is moved up to the next tier and the cost triples or more?

This is all being done by people in high places who see the middle class, the poor and elderly as cash cows. The new budget from Rep. Paul Ryan will show you how this is done. It takes from the working people and gives to the rich, and it increases the deficit over 20 years.

What we have to do in the coming election is vote the Republicans, and their sidekicks from the tea party, out of office.

You can’t blame the president for what didn’t get done; blame the obstructionist Republicans, and in the next election vote your own best interests. Vote in the people who will get jobs in this country, not ship them overseas. Vote in people who will get us single-payer health care. Vote in people who will work for us, we the people, not we the corporation.

We have to take our country back!

Norm Ellefson


Where was rally coverage?

The picture on the front page of the March 28 Spokesman-Review was of a group of 100 people in Olympia weighing in on the national health care debate. They wanted to keep Obamacare. Yet, when a rally of 150 people at noon on March 23 occurred across the street from The Spokesman-Review at the Thomas S. Foley U.S. Courthouse, there was only a small sentence in the paper, mixed in with another story. No picture.

The Spokane rally was against the federal ruling that would require some people to go against their religious beliefs and pay for contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilizations. There were several speakers and the reading of the First Amendment.

Couldn’t someone have used a telephoto lens and snapped a picture? You could have heard the message across the street at The Spokesman-Review. It wouldn’t have been a difficult story to write.

There were 140 rallies all over the nation at noon on March 23. Where was the press?

Joanne Bovey


ICAN helped me

I am a Ferris High School senior and an ICAN program graduate. I read a Feb. 24 article in The Spokesman-Review about how the ICAN program isn’t helping students. I don’t know if this program is effective for 100 percent of the students, but, without help from ICAN, there is no way I would be graduating on time.

I slacked off my freshman and sophomore years, but at the end of my junior year, I wanted to get back on track. My counselor told me that ICAN helps students retrieve credits from courses they took and failed.

I started going to ICAN about three weeks into the school year, completed four classes, and got caught up. If I had not found out about ICAN, there is no way I would be graduating in June.

Because of ICAN, I feel better about myself, and it has made me want to help other struggling students.

Currently, I am a teacher’s assistant for Toraj Farzana, my ICAN teacher. I want to be a part of the environment that helps students graduate, so I have made it my job to give the students in need the encouragement they need – just like I needed.

Justin Cady


Pink slime and meat glue

The public is being duped by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and labeling laws. One doesn’t know what they are being sold (except perhaps a bill of goods), as disclosing meat glue and pink slime isn’t required.

The USDA and the meat industry are pulling the wool over our eyes with pink slime (lean finely textured beef) in order to use scraps that normally would be discarded or sold to producers of meat meal.

The USDA also approves “meat glue,” or transglutaminase, which is an enzyme derived from beef and pork blood plasma. In commercial food-processing it is used to bond proteins together and can be used in these applications:

1. Improving texture of emulsified meat products, such as sausages and hot dogs.

2. Binding different meat parts into a larger one, such as steaks and loins.

3. Improving the texture of low-grade meat such as so-called “PSE meat” (pale, soft, and exudative).

4. Making milk and yogurt creamier.

5. Making noodles firmer.

Meat glue makes scraps of beef, lamb, chicken and fish stick together so closely that it looks like a solid piece of meat; once cooked it is hard to tell the difference, and labeling disclosure isn’t required.

Lloyd Zimmerman


Avoid all meat

What’s all the fuss about pink slime? Whether it’s pink slime meat or some other kind of meat or meat byproduct, it’s all bad for you. It’s all full of fat and cholesterol, antibiotics and fear hormones from the terrified slaughtered animals.

Try a veggie burger or load your plate with organic veggies. You’ll look better and feel better, mind and body.

Christy Anderlik

Liberty Lake

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