SUNDAY, MARCH 18, 2012


Sewer rates outrageous

Last year I wrote a letter to this paper regarding the city of Spokane’s outrageous increases in our sewer bills. If you remember, the city saw fit to raise our rates 15 percent in 2010 and 17 percent in 2011. Well, people, they did it again. This time they raise the rate another 13 percent. We have now received a compounded increase of 53 percent over the past three years. How do we, as a society, stop these “business-challenged bureaucrats” from continuing such irresponsible actions?

In a time of zero inflation, and banks giving less than 1 percent on savings accounts, how does the city justify double-digit increases for three straight years? The public complains when Avista raises their rates 10 percent or gas jumps from $3 per gallon to $4, but we do nothing when the people who work for us decide to raise rates by 53 percent on a service we must have.

Do we have an option, or do we just sit on our toilets and flush our money down the drain while the good old boys and gals at the sewer district collect their paychecks?

Jim Wieber


Put shootings on Page One

The thing that is really intriguing to me is that school shootings are not on the first page, but on the third page (“Coach says he prayed with dying students,” March 2). It’s not only disturbing that since it happens so often, it doesn’t make the front page.

The thing is that school shootings are important to know about even if they don’t seem like they are. It is a wake-up call to some.

The shooting will even keep some people aware that any high school could have this happen. This won’t always show up right away, but it’s still something the general public should read about. To my family though, it’s an abomination that a school shooting doesn’t make the first page.

So, put school shootings on the first page!

Jonathan T. Bayley


Beware of Barbieri tax

As a former legislative research analyst and Olympia lobbyist, I will say this notion of a tax on intangibles (activity related to stocks, bonds, notes, etc.) has been around for a long time. It is very unclear given state Supreme Court rulings on the definition of income whether or not this type of tax is a de facto income tax, as capital gains is income per federal tax law.

But, aside from the possible constitutional questions, it is clear any new tax begins the process of camel’s nose under the tent. The original rate and basis soon grows to meet spending requests, which from government are mostly going to be for compensation.

As for efforts to tax the wealthy, many of us pay a wealth tax now called the property tax on unrealized and unrealistic valuations. Under a true market-to-market appraisal, there is no question my home isn’t worth the assessed valuation. Then, for many taxpayers, the total tax payment exceeds any reasonable definition of fair share, especially for schools.

Instead, it amounts to an assessment for the privilege of living in a dwelling or holding real property even if the burden requires many taxpayers to struggle financially.

Lastly, I would say that if Don Barbieri is concerned about fairness, he should focus on changes to the existing state tax system rather than going after some type of new get-the-wealthy-to-pay plan.

Doug Pullen

Liberty Lake

Protect Clearwater Basin

A diverse group is gathered to protect north central Idaho’s Clearwater Basin, today and for future generations. The Clearwater Basin Collaborative exemplifies the best in modern land protection coalitions.

In a CBC meeting, loggers sit next to conservationists who sit next to tribal members who sit next to political representatives who sit next to agency folks, and so on. It is a formidable group, doing formidable work. They’ve come together to create solutions amidst compromise, and to set direction, all in the name of economic and environmental well-being for the region.

As an avid hiker, I applaud the CBC for working to permanently protect the most amazing and pristine places in the Clearwater Basin, while working to make sure that folks who recreate differently than I do also enjoy places designated for access.

Now is the time to protect the Clearwater Basin, and I am grateful for the CBC’s efforts. It’s important to me that one of the last best wild places receives protection and that the region’s wildlife, water and communities are safeguarded for future generations.

Aimee Moran


Disability Lifeline is vital

I agree with The Spokesman-Review’s March 6 editorial that the budget passed by the Senate last weekend wasn’t pretty. Disability Lifeline is mentioned as one of the casualties. Let me expand on why eliminating this program is not only inhumane but fiscally irresponsible.

I’ve seen the faces of those who rely on Disability Lifeline in the waiting rooms of our community health centers. These are people simply trying to access what we all need: affordable, quality health care to maintain stability or get back on their feet.

In the last few years, Disability Lifeline has gone through major reforms – exactly what many have called for in government programs – and has proven to not only improve lives but to save the state millions of dollars in caring for this complex population. A recent study showed lower rates of arrests, homelessness, hospital admissions and inpatient psychiatric costs among enrollees. If this program is eliminated, the patients’ needs won’t go away, but the savings to the state will.

As our legislators work on a final budget, I sincerely hope they have the foresight and compassion to protect this reformed and effective program.

David Bare, M.D.


Limit money, not speech

Up until recently, there was a law that put a limit on the contributions Americans could make to people running for office to support their campaigns. This law was put in place so that the rich wouldn’t have more power over who was elected than anyone else. It made our elections fair and just.

But the U.S. Supreme Court recently abolished the law because it supposedly restricted freedom of speech. This doesn’t make sense because supporting someone with money isn’t the same thing as speaking your opinions. In addition, overturning this law allows the rich to give as much money as they want to their candidate, and most likely that candidate would have the best interests of the rich in mind while in office.

This leaves the majority of the country at a huge disadvantage. Not only do the lower and middle classes have less say in who gets elected, but their best interests won’t be represented. The best solution is to let the right of freedom of speech extend to those who are actually speaking: the candidates, and allow everyone – not just those with money – an equal say in who gets elected, by voting.

Lauren Orwig


Why not a casino?

Since it affects my home, I’ve noted with interest and some pain the ongoing and proposed construction by the Spokane Tribe on Highway 2 across from Fairchild Air Force Base. Far be it from me to question a long-impoverished tribe a way to enrich itself. Besides, the West Plains is pretty much lost anyways to pavement and light and noise pollution.

Within a few square miles, we have recently added the Northern Quest Casino, also a racetrack, the Waste-to-Energy plant, another dump just up the road from the Spokane Tribe’s 145-acre parcel, a prison and a mini-mall that features Wal-Mart. Why not more traffic and pollution? Why not a second casino?

The objection that it might offer the addictions of gambling and alcohol and thus distract our soldiers – the descendants of those who 130 or so years ago shot Indians on this very site, then summarily hanged them and consigned them to the reservation system – is an exquisite historical irony.

John Keeble

Medical Lake

Casinos a drain on region

This is about the new casino proposed for the West Plains. Enough is enough. The big sucking sound you hear now is the money being sucked out of the Spokane area by the big non-taxpaying casinos. The money is spent by people who cannot afford to lose. The loss of jobs and closed businesses in Spokane to these casinos is huge.

By the way, whose money is it? They can smoke; they can gamble; they can do as they please. Who pays for the people who lose their homes because of gambling sickness? When this second giant casino is built in the Spokane area, these casinos will be hurting local business even more than now. The governor should think about the damage done to local people and business.

Robert Carroll

Newman Lake

Hammer control needed

Regarding the March 10 article in The Spokesman-Review: “Idaho man guilty in hammer attack.” I think it’s time we start making it mandatory for registering hammers. Hammers kill people.

Dary Liepelt


Save Jensen-Byrd

Washington State University’s president and Board of Regents are on track to demolish the historic brick Jensen-Byrd building, the one University District building with the potential to be an anchor for the expanding east side of downtown Spokane.

The Jensen-Byrd is in a location that has vital connections to the nearby beautifully restored brick buildings of Division, West Main Avenue and the landmark Schade Tower. This area is a center of activity with shops, restaurants, a theater, nightlife and many small businesses.

Restoring the Jensen-Byrd would be a huge plus for the campus because people are naturally attracted to revitalized historic structures. The buildings between it and downtown, existing and infill, would surely become even more of a magnet for students and their patronage.

The truth is, new construction just doesn’t generate the same buzz as restoration accomplishes.

WSU’s existing campus buildings are mostly sleek and soulless modern structures with no connection to the land they occupy, the city they border or the Gonzaga University campus to their north.

Restoration of the Jensen-Byrd would add character and intrinsic value to the University District while enriching Spokane’s historic heritage.

Please sign the Save the Jensen-Byrd Petition at: www.change.org/petitions/ spokane-preservation-advocates-spa- stop-the-demolition-of-the-jensen- byrd-warehouse-building.

Suzanne Markham


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