Baumgartner cutting education
I would like to thank Sen. Michael Baumgartner for standing up against Senate Democrats and voting for $78 million in cuts to our education system ($40 million K-12, $38 million higher education), while simultaneously introducing a constitutional amendment requiring higher education to be the second most important priority in our state (SJR 8225).
Without Baumgartner’s courage to say one thing but do the opposite, Washington’s businesses would not have to rely on other countries’ graduates to fill the void in their offices.
Baumgartner is the kind of politician that we need representing Spokane. Baumgartner, who in his own words from the Senate floor on March 3, “wants to tip (his) hat to the majority party. You know you got beat tonight. You got beat by the rules, but you put up a good fight, and that’s just the way this process works,” gloats about cutting into our state’s educational resources.
So, thank you, Michael Baumgartner, for being the creative politician and cutting more of our education dollars over what appears to be a simple game to you. Without leaders like Baumgartner, Spokane families could not have counted on five straight years of cuts to our education.
Forest plan process hijacked
The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act of 2009 is funding the Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative and the Clearwater Basin Collaborative. Shamefully, the overwhelming majority of the American public is not involved in this collaborative process. Instead, government officials, local industry representatives and questionable conservation groups carve out a so-called working solution.
And thanks to Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and Sen. Mike Crapo, the proposed National Forest Planning Rules could force the National Environmental Policy Act to take a back seat to collaboration and the spirit of cooperation. NEPA will be a pro-forma exercise.
To make things worse, the administrative appeals process has been eliminated. A recent budget rider stripped the public’s ability to challenge the record of decision by the agency.
And yet, the Idaho Collaboration League and the Wilderness Solution have requested that we avoid the conflict approach when commenting on the Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle National Forest Plans.
Fortunately, by submitting public comments on agency projects, you can still litigate what you deem to be an illegal project. So let the litigation begin; that is, unless the Forest Service chooses to follow the law.
Protect forests from Otter
Gov. Butch Otter is urging his Republican cronies – representatives of the most anti-environmental Legislature in history – to concoct legislation that would give control of the national forests in Idaho to the governor and lawmakers.
Otter wants to enrich Idaho and the corporate interests by destroying our last roadless forests – the very heart and soul of this great wilderness state – reducing them to an endless maze of logging roads and stumps. Creating fear of fire is a pretext to this end.
Most forest fires start in cut-over forests, primarily because of human access, the greatest cause of fires. Old-growth forests are fire resistant, due, in part, to their dampness and inaccessibility.
These priceless forests will become more valuable with each passing year, benefiting the air, water, wildlife, climate and combating global warming in ways that are far from being understood. They stand as defiant symbols of the right of all Americans, including the unborn, to experience untrammeled nature – one of the richest, most beautiful dimensions of life.
Teddy Roosevelt established the national forests for the people, protecting them from robber barons and opportunists – and the same kind of attacks against their integrity and the public good that Otter proposes.
Frederick K. Bardelli
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