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Sun., Feb. 12, 2012


Wetland writer all wet

As an Idaho property owner, I have closely followed the Sacketts’ case against the Environmental Protection Agency and find the Jan. 21 column by retired Corps of Engineers bureaucrat Michael Doherty breathtaking in its hubris and detachment from reality.

In his opinion, the Sacketts are suspect for not paying enough for the lot; it’s a wetland because he recognizes it as such; they are “uncooperative” and “should quit complaining about regulations and the agencies (who) enforce them;” they are ideologically motivated – those agencies, after all, “work for us” and “bend over backwards to help alleged violators.” Furthermore, the million-dollar-plus fines against them “are typically used by agencies with limited enforcement resources.”

Had he informed himself on this case, he would know the Sacketts paid a reasonable price at that time for a modest lot in an established subdivision. No EPA coordinates showed it as a wetland. He himself, in a corroborated statement, declared it to the Realtor as a buildable lot. Furthermore, the Sacketts wanting to have their constitutional property rights protected constitutes an “ideology”? And, laughably, we are to believe the EPA has “limited resources?”

Even former regulatory agency apparatchiks are entitled to their opinions, but not their own facts.

Anita Perry


Unappealing land-use bill

“Mielke testimony in Olympia favored land use appeal fee.”

I’d be the first to admit that I don’t know much about the Growth Management Act, but what I do know about is arrogance when I see it. Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke’s push to charge a $400 fee to citizens who appeal land use decisions just demonstrates what happens to people when left in elected office too long.

Can you imagine one of us sheep actually believing that government could make a wrong decision? After all, our elected officials have done so well in leading us down the road to greater prosperity, housing booms and a robust economy. The bottom line is this: When these public officials start believing that they’re smarter than everyone else and that we have no business challenging the very decisions that affect us, it’s time for them to go.

I thank John Roskelley for his service to our community and for pointing out that Mielke’s bill was intended to “eliminate those pesky citizens from holding elected officials accountable.” But again, regarding Roskelley, I don’t believe that elected office should be a career move, and that more people in our community should be involved in the process.

John Esco

Liberty Lake

Mielke testimony distorted

Accusations made by candidate John Roskelley, and the story portraying Commissioner Todd Mielke’s testimony at a recent Senate hearing, are blatantly misleading.

I was part of a delegation of elected officials and business leaders in Olympia during Mielke’s testimony on SB 6154. Your headline, and Roskelley’s comments, imply Mielke testified in favor of a new fee for land use appeals. Wrong.

Anyone aware of the legislative process knows that bills have a number of sections addressing a variety of issues. Roskelley should know that, but he rarely set foot in Olympia to represent his constituents’ interest as a county commissioner.

Mielke testified on one subject of the bill pertaining to a legal definition of who has standing to file land-use appeals. He testified that the same definition used in 99 percent of the legal proceedings in this state should be the same one used in land-use decisions.

Only one group testified against this bill, Futurewise, a group well known for advocating for additional regulations on private property owners. Roskelley’s bias against private property owners has not changed.

Al French

Spokane County Commissioner


Dump mail, get facts

Many registered voters received anti-levy material recently. This excess tax material does just what the business group intended. It makes you doubt your own school district and the levy information they distributed.

If you have doubts about the material you’ve received from your school district, don’t take it out on our kids. Find out the facts. Go to a levy meeting, go to your school’s website, go to the school board, or call the administration office for information. Learn the truth about the needs for your school district. If you still have doubts, ask your school district what they will be required to cut if the levy doesn’t pass. In Riverside School District alone, the budget would be reduced by approximately 23 percent if the levies don’t pass.

Our kids can’t fight this anti-levy material. They are relying on parents, community members, grandparents, teachers, school employees and administrators to find out the facts and support the levy. Supporting the levy is supporting education. Supporting education is vital to our economy. Most business owners understand the impact a good education system has on the economy. That is why they are supporting this levy.

Sandra Huggins


Don’t believe voodoo math

Local school districts claim the new tax levy rate is higher because property values have decreased. OK, let’s do the math. My property tax statement shows a 5 percent decrease in value. Central Valley School District wants an 18 percent tax increase. Just maybe we have uncovered a clue as to why our schools are not performing as well as we want them to. This must be some kind of voodoo math or new new math or no math at all.

To homeowners fighting to keep their homes, to folks trying pay for their kids’ college or seniors trying to pay for their medications, this tax increase might seem justified. I think it’s an outrageous and insensitive money grab. And let’s not forget what we learned about our local school districts last spring: They have double the administrators the state requires and funds. Make no mistake, this new tax levy is not for the kids, it’s for the administrators, the ones that do voodoo math.

While all of us have to buckle down and tighten our belts, the school administrators seem to think they are entitled to more and more. We taxpayers need to send a message and vote no.

Patrick McDonald

Spokane Valley

Voting against levy

Voting against a levy is voting against educational, racial, social and economic discrimination.

Voting against a levy is voting against giving some students a better opportunity to earn a high school diploma than others.

Voting against a levy is a vote against letting the Legislature not maintain the school buildings and athletic complexes the Legislature is responsible for.

Voting against a levy is voting against letting the Legislature not provide the funds required for students to attain the goals set for them by the Legislature.

Voting against a levy is voting against funding activities that detract from the constitutional purpose of public schools.

Voting against a levy is voting against spending our money to support optional federal programs championed by special interests.

Voting against a levy is a vote for fairness for all students, responsible government and responsible citizenship.

John Axtell

Valley, Wash.

Bullying a national tragedy

As I opened USA Today on Jan. 25, a headline to an article in big bold letters caught my eye: “Bullying: Are We Defenseless?”, written by Bruce Kluger.

After reading it through, I was stunned. One child or teen in America commits suicide every five hours. How can this be possible?

I tried to place the names Amanda and Kameron with the faces of the two beautiful, innocent, aspiring young people who took their lives and my heart sank even deeper.

Kluger asks “how many more … children must we lose … before bullying is elevated to the level of national emergency?” He asks, “how many more broken hearts must parents and families endure?”

We were able to go to the moon and back. We can and we must address this national tragedy. Parents, grandparents, teachers, physicians, friends and neighbors: we can’t allow any more precious young souls to have their lives cut short because they are victims of bullying.

Halina Slobodow


Citizens not united by this

It is ironic that the U.S. Supreme Court decision that has unleashed the mad dogs of the super PACs is known as the Citizens United case. That ruling has provided to corporations, labor unions or advocacy groups the same constitutional rights and protections that I have. No way our Founding Fathers or President Abraham Lincoln could have foreseen this obscene interpretation of “We the People.”

We, the real people, must demand that our elected leaders step forward with integrity and urgency to reject and overturn this distortion of reality.

The current corrupt state of campaign financing is a menacing disease that, left untreated, threatens the life of our democracy.

I don’t pretend to have the remedy to this. I know it will get worse throughout this year before there is any hope that it gets better. It will only get better when those we elect to represent us see the threat and urgent need for change. If they don’t see it, then it’s time to send someone that does.

Harvey Morrison


Smart move, mayor

Bravo for Mayor David Condon, who reduced his compensation more than 41 percent. No thank you for the dumb bomb advice from Associate Editor Gary Crooks.

Leave Condon alone or, better yet, join him to restore responsible government to Spokane.

Anson Avery


Sniff out fragrances

Stores that “woo customers with scent branding” (Jan. 25), incidentally, are also more than likely exposing them to a number of toxic chemicals.

Lab studies on a number of fragrance products (most notably by Professor Anne Steinemann of the University of Washington) found, typically, formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, terpenes such as limonene, also benzene, phthalates, and toluene. These and other ingredients found in air fresheners, etc. have been linked to heart disease, lung disease and cancer. Possibly even worse than these hazardous chemicals is the fact that the federal government allows these products to be marketed with their ingredients unlisted on either labels or material safety data sheets.

It seems that the fragrance industry in this country is committed to secrecy, putting profit above regard for public health and safety, and being given a free ride to boot.

Scientists – Steinemann and others – have done the lab work. The real story on this subject would read more like an exposé, but the news media isn’t showing much interest. Nor, for that matter is the legal community. Why, I’m asking, not?

Del Cameron

Coeur d’Alene

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