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Questions about Avista

Avista continues to charge $0.81690 per therm for natural gas while, since 2008, the market price has dropped to $0.198 per therm.

The market price has dropped 35 percent so far this year. Have you seen your gas bill drop 35 percent? The answer is no.

Where are our state regulators? Where is the press on this gouging issue? Why has the price of electricity not dropped as well?

Avista uses natural gas to generate electricity. If the cost of gas drops, then it costs less to generate electricity.

Don Collings

Spokane Valley

End utility’s monopoly

On April 17, David Smith wrote that it is easy to end Avista’s monopoly (aka stranglehold) with a simple majority vote. Count me in! If someone is willing to get this on the ballot, I will volunteer to go door to door to help get the word out.

Apparently, the regulators just don’t seem to get it.

There might also be someone out there with the knowledge to organize a co-op. Either way, Avista’s monopoly needs to end soon.

Bill Foreman


Obama likes high gas prices

I believe that our leader talks about lower gas, but he really doesn’t want it lower.

The wholesale price of a gallon of gas is now $3.10 (f.o.b. New York). The price of ethanol is $3.37. The president is strongly promoting ethanol and subsidizing the ethanol industry very generously for his “Go Green” policy.

Imagine if the price of gasoline dropped, like natural gas did, by half. The price of gas would then be $1.55 per gallon, and the price of ethanol would still be $3.37. Nobody would want to buy the veggie gas, and another one of your leader’s programs would go down the tube.

This, he could not allow to happen. So be it: drilling bans and Keystone pipeline.

David Darlow


What is the secular reason?

I am not a Christian! In this country I am allowed to choose and follow any religion that suits my fancy without fear of governmental interference. Why then am I not allowed to marry my boyfriend of seven years? My religious beliefs support love in all aspects; homosexuality is a nonissue. One may argue that I am already free to love anyone that I choose, which is true, yet our laws prevent me from being treated equally solely because I am a non-Christian homosexual.

There is only one real support for denying marriage equality: religious belief. Our First Amendment rights invalidate religious belief as a legal tool. So why then am I still treated differently than a Christian man who chooses to marry a woman? I am essentially being forced to adhere to a religion that I do not follow.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. …”

Give me one valid nonreligious reason why marriage should not be equal for all people, and I swear I will never advocate marriage equality again.

Erick Peck


Tutu visit would be great

I read Shawn Vestal’s April 20 column regarding Desmond Tutu being asked to be the commencement speaker at Gonzaga University’s graduation. It was very thought-provoking! No matter what a person believes, whether you are pro-choice or anti-gay or whatever, Tutu is a genuine human being who has changed the world. This one man has the courage to stand up for his beliefs.

I respect the Catholic Church and its beliefs. I think in this case, though, that if Gonzaga were to deny this man the chance to touch so many more lives, it would be a shame. I, for one, would never respect Gonzaga if it were to deny this once-in-a-lifetime chance.

Isn’t it time that everyone crawled out from under their rocks and realized that the world is a different place now? Let the world know that Spokane, and especially Gonzaga, knows that we all belong. Tutu speaking in our lovely city would be so wonderful. Like Spokane is on a spring day.

Natalie Gibb


Raise fish-eating standard

The Washington Department of Ecology is considering new standards regarding fish consumption rates. These standards help Ecology determine what levels of toxic pollution it should allow polluters to discharge into our rivers, lakes and streams.

Recent and thorough research shows that Washington’s actual fish consumption rate is much higher than Ecology’s current standard of 6.5 grams per day (one of the lowest in the nation). If Ecology incorporates this research into its decision and raises the state’s fish consumption rate to more accurately reflect our current situation, the agency would in turn be required to reduce the levels of toxic pollutants allowed in the state’s water bodies.

Please urge the Department of Ecology to adopt a higher fish consumption rate. A higher standard will set us on the path toward a cleaner, healthier Spokane River full of edible fish.

Steve Walker


Credit to Stephens in Zehm case

I applaud Scott Stephens (“Mistakes made,” April 13) for what he has done concerning the Otto Zehm case. The next step is to make sure the people that caused these mistakes are held accountable. I believe Spokane should pursue legal action against Rocky Treppiedi for breach of contract and ineffectual counsel.

Treppiedi is not the only one. Otto Zehm’s death, and the cover-up that followed, is going to cost this great city millions of dollars. The list of the other people responsible for this cost is long but distinguished.

I guess since former Mayor Mary Verner didn’t get her sour grapes pay we might let her off the hook. As for the rest, I say make them all pay.

Michael Smith


Stop the coal trains

Multinational coal companies plan to strip-mine the Powder River Basin in Montana and transport low-grade, dirty coal by rail to terminals on the coast of Washington and Oregon, then send it on huge ships to China and other rising Asian powers to be burned by their industries and grow their economies.

Over 100 million tons of this dirty coal will pass through Spokane every year loaded into open coal cars in trains over a mile long. Today, we see five or six coal trains a day. Soon, we will have 55 to 65 trains, or more. A tenfold increase in train traffic will devastate the infrastructure of our city, spreading toxic coal dust over the landscape, with derailments, traffic snarls and tons of diesel-generated air pollution every year to a city that regularly experiences thermal inversions.

What’s in it for Spokane? Absolutely nothing. No new jobs and an end to what makes Spokane so beautiful.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has called for a cumulative environmental impact statement before allowing these terminals to be built. People in Spokane deserve a public hearing when we stand to be impacted so directly. Our voices need to be heard!

Mark Rhodes


Mandate is a start

While I agree that we need to have national health care with minimum coverage for all, until we get a single-payer system the only way that we can affordably cover everyone, including those with pre-existing conditions, is to make participation mandatory.

It is nonsensical to compare the mandate to buy health insurance to buying everyone a car. Under the current system, we already pay for everyone else’s health care, such as through cost-shifting, where everyone pays higher costs to cover those who can’t pay, and through government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. Additionally, it costs a lot more to pay for uncovered individuals in an emergency room where we must provide care than for prevention.

I don’t believe that “forcing” people to buy health insurance will turn into the government making us buy other items. I already have to pay for other people’s health care. I don’t have to buy their broccoli, their transportation, etc. It is embarrassing to be the richest country in the world, spending more than twice as much as any other country on health care, only to have outcomes that are 37th in the world. We have to start somewhere.

Pauline Soehren


Jensen-Byrd an eyesore

For the past months I’ve read with great humor the articles insisting the Jensen-Byrd building be preserved, and what wonderful condition it’s in, and how lovely it appears.

Just what building are these people looking at? I was in the place many times before it was closed, and even then it had creaky, soft-feeling floors and outdated space usage with pillars in the way in every direction, preventing any apartment-type of remodeling.

And outside? Sorry, people, but it’s just another ugly square brick building, of which there are dozens of examples throughout downtown Spokane. Give it a rest please. Let’s tear this eyesore down and get some real use out of the space that will also allow the maximum use for students and civilians alike.

Sorry for raining on your parade, but the place was ugly when it was built and hasn’t improved any with age, only worsened. Let it go. Find someplace to champion that deserves it. This building is only standing in the way of real progress, something that area needs desperately.

Les Norton


You will miss USPS

Standing in the post office to mail my presents, I heard the woman in front of me say, “This is ridiculous; I can’t wait until they privatize this place.”

Good luck, ma’am. You think the lines are long now; wait until corporations are running the show. When workers are being paid minimum wage, with no retirement or medical benefits, see how many employees are willing to walk in snow, rain and wind to deliver your package or letter safely to your door.

UPS throws my package at my back door and couldn’t care less if I get it. My mailman takes the time to knock on my door, or take it to my neighbor’s house, or hide it under my mat because he is a professional who takes his job seriously. It is a career to him; he takes pride in what he does.

Our post offices are completely paid for by postage – not one dime of taxpayer monies – and would be solvent if not required to fund its retirement programs forward 75 years. Thank the Republican Congress that snuck through that bill in the year 2000, not the unions.

Joanna McPherson


Congress created postal mess

Leonard C. Johnson, of Moscow, has been hoodwinked.

In his April 21 letter, he complains about “pre-funding of retirement benefits for 70 years” for Postal Service workers, which he says were “imposed under a union contract,” concluding it constitutes an argument against “government employee unions.”

What he apparently doesn’t realize is that this funding mandate – required of no other agency – was imposed not by the union, but upon it, by a 2006 act of Congress under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, in a cynical attempt to bankrupt the USPS and break its union.

Johnson, and anyone else concerned, has only the last Republican-led Congress to thank for a self-created crisis.

Steven A. Wells


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