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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Letters To The Editor


Better strategy needed for downtown

Many letters and articles in recent weeks have debated the proposed downtown River Park Square development. Without getting partisan regarding this development, let me say I don’t believe this will solve downtown’s woes.

At least three changes have led to downtown’s downturn. First, the skywalk system dried up ground level traffic, especially when combined with reason No. 2, which is elimination of a vast number of on-street parking spaces. Reason No. 3 is the competition from suburban shopping options that have acres of free parking. The arrival of Wal-Mart ensures increasing levels of such competition.

Faced with these problems, can downtown possibly compete by tackling mall wars head on? Will an elaborate parking garage bring back the downtown excitement? Will additional skywalks encourage street level enterprise?

My suggestion is some sort of enterprise zone for downtown. Give street level business a chance, then get busy and promote the downtown area. Hook up with the Arena, Opera House and Riverfront Park events. Bring back the sidewalk sale. Make it easier for people to park and attend. Allow more parking on the street, especially on weekends.

Downtown must adopt a strategy of hitting them where they ain’t and promote its uniqueness. Many small towns have adopted this strategy, especially when dealing with the Wal-Mart invasion. Spokane would do well to adopt such a tactic, new parking garage or no new parking garage. Gregory P. Hande Spokane

See to paving all city streets

Many people have voiced concerns about Spokane’s streets. We all agree they need major repair. What about streets in the city that haven’t been paved at all?

Why were these roads overlooked? It makes no sense to pave all but one or two blocks of a street. Many of these streets have curbs and sidewalks but the roads were left unpaved.

Residents of these areas must contend with clouds of dirt from cars and trucks that constantly drive down their streets most the year. Every year, city road crews redistribute the dirt on these unsightly patches.

Paving these streets would benefit all of us. Not only would it be more cost-effective to pave these blocks than have them groomed three or four times a year, it would also beautify the neighborhoods plagued with them.

Pollution is a large concern and these streets cause a lot of dirty air during summer. Paving may help ease this problem a bit. It couldn’t hurt.

While we are beautifying downtown, let’s not forget the surrounding neighborhoods where we all live. Barbara Williams Spokane

How can city afford property?

How can the city afford a prime piece of view property it may or may not use as a bridge property extension when there is no money to fix the streets and when that particular piece of property would be far better utilized by private enterprise? Dolores L. Minor Spokane

Costs out of line with services

I am disgusted with the way the city of Spokane handles our tax money.

In the Feb. 11 article, “Council hires Pupo as city manager,” it states that we will pay this man $95,000 as our city manager. Why is it that city-appointed jobs pay so well? My husband and I work and we only make $30,000 a year. Who decided how much to pay someone who works for the city?

The article reports that the City Council approved a contract with Washington Water Power Co. to haul away ice storm debris at a cost to taxpayers of $1.7 million. Couldn’t we use that $1.7 million in other areas? Why couldn’t the city maybe ask residents of Spokane if anyone wants some free wood, that here is where they can pick it up? Wouldn’t it be nice to know that amid the tragedy of the ice storm someone will be warm next winter by burning the wood from the downed trees? And if we actually didn’t have to spend the $1.7 million to haul the debris away, maybe we could spend that money on resurfacing and fixing Spokane streets.

I would really like to know why we don’t allow enough money to fix our streets. Don’t we pay enough in taxes to at least keep our roads in good shape? I guess not. Jennifer Saito Spokane

Spokane native appeared in movie

I just read the movie review of “Metro,” Eddie Murphy’s new movie, in the Feb. 5 Spokesman-Review. Something important was left out.

Spokane native Dennis Arndt appeared in the movie as Murphy’s police captain. Arndt also played opposite Michael Douglas in “Basic Instinct” as a police captain. He had a main part in the movie, “Distant Thunder,” and has appeared several times on “L.A. Law” on TV. He recently received a promotion to president of the United States in the upcoming TV movie, “Asteroid.” A fine actor like Arndt should receive some hometown support. Gary Hutson Spokane

Forget raises and fix potholes

Our streets are full of potholes because the county is broke and so is the city, and the city’s bond issue did not pass.

Now, our problem is this: Give our elected officials a raise, because they are not paid according to what people make in other counties. Where is this money to give these raises? We will be taxed and taxed to meet these needs.

Let these officials go where the money is being paid for higher salaries. Take the money that is always found unaccounted for to fix our potholes and forget the raises.

Let’s remember our potholes when it’s time to vote for these officials. Just don’t listen to their sad stories of what all they plan do do for us. It’s just not true.

Fix our potholes, with no raises in salaries or our taxes. Faye Bost Spokane

Roskelley deserves a vacation, too

I don’t understand why Spokane County Commissioner John Roskelley should be concerned about taking a three-week vacation.

As nearly as I can tell, he is doing an excellent job as a county commissioner. He is not leaving the area to drive a semi-truck. Everyone, whether they are a county commissioner or the president of the United States, is entitled to three weeks off a year to pursue a little happiness with their family. After all, wouldn’t most of us want the same thing? James A. Nelson Spokane


Helmet issue not so simple

T. Crook’s version of personal responsibility, economic or social burden (“Where scalp meets road, costs count,” Letters, Jan. 30), is biased. Where is the personal responsibility when a car driver isn’t insured as decreed by state law?

Based on a study by J. Stutts, University of North Carolina, car drivers cause most motorcycle accidents. Also, the average cost of a motorcycle accident was found to be $15,801, vs. $17,892 for other road trauma.

If our Washington State Patrol or police would go after uninsured motorists as zealously as they do motorcycle riders, wouldn’t the burden shift from taxpayers to the insurance policyholders responsible for these accidents? Who’s trying to transfer responsibility here?

Most Harley riders carry insurance. The value of their motorcycles makes this prudent. I don’t see charges on my policy for motorcycle riders. I do see charges for uninsured motorists.

It’s been proven that helmets can cause severe spinal cord injury. Helmets restrict hearing, vision and cause neck fatigue. All these factors increase the accident risk.

The helmet law is not being removed, just modified to make helmet use voluntary for those over 21. If this happens, all riders won’t immediately ride without a helmet. Many will continue to wear helmets of their choice, not the State Patrol-mandated helmets that any rider who has been pulled over can testify change from day to day and officer to officer.

When interpreted correctly, the statistics are proving that education, not legislation, is the solution to reducing fatalities and accidents. I.S. Elkins Spokane


Urge funding for road work

The Washington Legislature is holding committee hearings on funding for transportation this week in Olympia. You should know:

The number of vehicle miles traveled on our roads is increasing faster than the population. We are traveling more than ever. So, our transportation systems are being used up faster and faster each year.

The number of heavy trucks on our roads is also increasing significantly. Some of our highways are experiencing significantly more heavy truck traffic as a result of NAFTA. All our road systems are seeing increases in heavy truck traffic as our economy expands. Pavements wear out faster under these increases of heavy loads.

Automobiles and trucks are becoming more fuel efficient with each advance in automotive technology. Since the fuel tax is a set number of cents per gallon, we are effectively paying less (on a per-mile-traveled basis) in motor fuel taxes than we have in the past.

The purchasing power of the motor fuel taxes we pay (the primary source of funding for transportation) decreases each year as the cost of building, repairing and maintaining our transportation systems increase. Hence, there is effectively less each year to keep the system functioning. Our transportation system needs an increase in funding just to take care of what we have. We should also increase funding for those transportation improvement projects our communities need the most.

Here is an opportunity to do something about the condition of our highways, roads and streets. Please call your legislators at (800) 562-6000 and tell them they should vote for increased funding for our transportation system. Eric Cutbirth, P.E., CH2M Hill Spokane

Support fair hiring in Ireland

The Irish have long been noted for their ability to fight and to speak out in the interests of fair play for others. However, their track record in their own behalf leaves much to be desired.

The Feb. 11 Public Periscope column brought to local attention legislation now under consideration in Olympia. It calls for U.S. corporations doing business in Northern Ireland to endorse fair employment practices in their own plants, where presently both Catholics and Protestants (other than members of the Anglican Church) are being given short shrift when applying for decent jobs in that area.

The bill, known as The MacBride Principles, has already been endorsed in 16 states. But locally, Rep. Clyde Ballard, R-Wenatchee, says we should not interfere in foreign politics, which we definitely are not doing. But how does Ballard term the actions of the British Consulate in Seattle in lobbying against this bill or its contacting the Spokane International Trade Alliance?

Rep. Duane Sommers states in his letter to me, “I will not endorse it as it is ‘affirmative action,’ and affirmative action does not work.”’ However, Reps. Mark Sterk and Jeff Gombosky have both signed on to the bill.

It’s time the Irish in Spokane, who comprise 26 percent of the population, took an interest in something that can greatly benefit their counterparts in Northern Ireland by letting their legislators know they support fair play everywhere, especially in Northern Ireland. Andy Kelly Spokane


War one of manipulation for profit

How heavy-handed might government get over marijuana? How much property will be confiscated? How many new prisons and all their prisoners will we pay for?

Will we have any rights left in the wake of the war on drugs? War on some drugs, of course, mostly marijuana.

We and the Bill of Rights are the main casualties. Every day it becomes clearer that a cease-fire is out of our hands. Our government does not represent us. Government represents the money of those building new prisons, selling drug-testing kits, selling legal drugs, even the organized criminals pouring illegal drugs into our country. Drug profits are astronomical, enough to buy all the political influence it takes to keep the war on drugs going until there are few survivors.

Government slogans and lies have a lot of money behind them. However, more and more people are waking up, thanks to dedicated activists like Allison Bigelow and Tom Hawkins. And thanks to people like interactive editor Doug Floyd, whose Jan. 26 Perspective article, “The marijuana lobby,” was truthful and clear.

But unless we are willing to take the step to civil disobedience, our vote is all the power we have. Ask voters in Arizona and California about the power of their vote. Ralph Schneider Medical Lake

War ill-conceived, damaging to all

Marijuana prohibition began in 1937, with the unconstitutional Marijuana Tax Act. Taxes ought to be for raising revenue, not for prohibiting certain behaviors. So, the whole thing began in shame and to keep it all going, the shame has had to get worse and worse.

After 60 years it appears federal authorities are willing to suspend any of our rights and intrude without limit into our daily lives to protect us from marijuana. Never mind how obvious it is that prohibition of any substance as popular as marijuana cannot work. Alcohol prohibition is a perfect example.

Prohibition means no control. Until marijuana is controlled like alcohol and tobacco, the war on drugs will keep damaging us more than all illegal drugs combined ever could.

Objective analysis of the truth about marijuana and its prohibition leaves a rational person thinking there must be so much more to it all. The truth about hemp makes it all clear. Were hemp not such a valuable natural resource, prohibition of marijuana might never have happened. It certainly would not be 60 years old. Rand Clifford Spokane

Confiscation policy abusive

Recently, there was an incident in which a church caretaker was allegedly growing many marijuana plants. Could it be that no one in the church knew about these plants?

That church should also be charged, just like the little old lady whose house was seized because her son was growing marijuana in the basement. This is the same issue.

The house I live in was seized because this nice old man’s son was growing marijuana in his chicken shed and growing it on the mountain side. I don’t think it is right for the person who owned it, but for the person who grew and sold it, to be penalized.

If the government keeps charging the person who owns the house or church, many people who aren’t guilty of the crime are going to lose their homes or property. Daniel Hutchins Plummer, Idaho

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