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


Act now to protect your power to elect

The Spokane County Democratic Central Committee has asked, in the strongest terms possible, the Washington state Legislature to preserve the fundamental right of the people of Spokane County to continue to choose by direct vote the people who speak and act on our behalf in the business of the county.

There is nothing more basic, more fundamental, to the concept of representative government than the election of citizens to carry a community’s interest forward.

We believe the citizens of Spokane County have the right and duty to elect the officers of the county, including the auditor and the assessor. While we actively support our county government, we believe the auditor and assessor positions are essential elements in a reasonable system of checks and balances.

We ask nothing more from state legislators than a vote against the proposal that would dangerously concentrate the power of property assessment and accounting oversight in fewer hands.

Much more than whom we elect, it matters that we reserve the right to elect them.

Suppose the federal government were to say that the people of Washington could not elect their full complement of citizen representatives?

We urge the citizens of Spokane County to remind their legislators in the House and Senate to recall the process and the people who put them in the place where they can vote.

They have a choice. We do, too. Ken Pelo, chairman, and Val Smith, vice chairwoman Spokane County Democratic Central Committee

No tobacco use at schools, period

I disagree with staff writer Anne Windishar’s editorial that legislators should be tolerant of on-campus tobacco use by high school students. Schools should have a zero-tolerance policy with regard to students using tobacco.

They would never let students gather in a section of the school to drink beer. The idea is ludicrous. Yet, for some reason, tobacco is seen as a lesser drug or not equivalent to alcohol and other drugs.

The average age at which people start smoking in the United States is 13, and the rate of use by youths has climbed 7 percent in the last year to a staggering 34 percent, according to USA Today. As a result of trends such as this, tobacco is a leading cause of adult deaths in our country.

Windishar points out that “educators know that stiff no-smoking laws mean kids will miss school.” As an educator, that, to me, is like saying that “stiff no-cocaine laws mean kids will miss school.” We don’t coddle high school cocaine users, and we shouldn’t coddle high school tobacco users.

In reference to high school kids, Windishar says, “Expecting them to drop a highly addictive habit cold-turkey is expecting too much.” I think that it is expecting too little. Young people should be expected to do well, try for success and maintain a positive well-being. Going easy on poor behavior, addictive or not, will produce more of it, which may explain why tobacco use by youths is on the rise.

Legislators should mandate zero-tolerance policies on high school campuses. Marc Hughes Spokane


Help develop needed reform

Many Americans are feeling frustrated and helpless as they watch the political system operate in a climate, sometimes corrupt, of cash, cash and more cash (“Soft money broke records,” Feb. 17). How can the average voter expect to be taken as seriously as is the CEO of Phillip Morris, a corporation that contributed $2.2 million to both political parties in 1996?

The League of Women Voters Education Fund is about to offer citizens in the 5th Congressional District a unique opportunity to combat that helplessness and become directly involved in the political process.

In early spring, we will convene a citizens assembly of about 30 members representing a cross section of the local population. They will meet three times to learn about and to brainstorm the issues surrounding money and politics. U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Spokane) is invited to the third meeting.

This is a nationwide project. Such meetings also will be going on in other selected congressional districts - 40 in all - in the East, in the Midwest and on the Pacific Coast. The League of Women Voters Education Fund and the Harwood Group will see that the voices of these citizens reach our legislators in Washington, D.C., and the media.

If you want to be with us as we search for common ground, call a league member at 326-8026. You can be assured our government leaders will hear your concerns. Marianne Connelly, local coordinator Money Plus Politics Equal People Change the Equation, Spokane

Congress should cut taxes

Our president, the Cabinet, senators and congressmen need to take a moment, separate themselves from the political world and join the real world - that is, the world of the working class and how we strive to cut back to survive.

We earn two incomes to survive. Most of our wages are good when you look at them as gross income. But when you take state, federal, local and property taxes from gross income, there isn’t much left to live on.

The political world is different. Our paid politicians (paid by us) have managed to raise themselves to a level of pay and entitlements that most Americans will never see simply by voting themselves a raise. How easy it was!

Then they were so gracious to raise the minimum wage to $5.25 an hour. Wow - more hidden taxes for them. If your wages go up, so does your payroll tax.

I hope Congress will act instead of talk. Our president has his targeted tax cuts, which don’t even touch on the real problems. A tax cut for all of America would be nice.

If all the people in this country would inform themselves about the many billions of dollars government wastes, we would be happy to pay a straight 10 percent.

The capital gains tax is the most unjust. It affects us all, not just the rich. The rich will remain rich no matter what.

What would opening up $7 trillion do to this economy? Urge your representative toward a zero capital gains tax. Mark S. Mattern Post Falls

Laudable policy ends at China border

I heard Vice President Al Gore say in a meeting with union leaders, “We’re going to send a message to companies that want to do business with the government that how you treat your employees and how you treat unions counts with us.”

It’s too bad he can’t send the same message to China. But we don’t want to risk trade relationships with that country, so we don’t give any consideration at all to the virtual slave-labor conditions that exist there. Buy American! Richard T. Brown Spokane

Bosnia policy wrong, dangerous

The Clinton administration should be congratulated for its efforts to broker a dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. Peace and stability in the Middle East are a vital American concern.

On the other hand, the administration should go to the woodshed for its entanglement in Bosnia. It is fundamentally a bad idea to deploy troops without clear objectives and an understanding of how those objectives relate to vital national interests.

The public will not tolerate the effusion of American blood in the name of world peace.

The proof of that is Somalia. President Clinton betrayed a tendency to fiddle by militarizing what had started as a humanitarian mission. About a dozen American soldiers died. The administration beat a hasty retreat, setting a pattern that would become its patented method for dealing with resistance on any front.

The big danger in Bosnia is not the prospect of massive American casualties. We can be sure that an administration that never has had a stomach for a fight anyplace but Waco, Texas, will not stand and fight in Bosnia.

The real danger in Bosnia is the bad precedent, particularly as it relates to NATO. The argument for including Eastern Europe in NATO has begun. Nothing could be worse for American interests. Russia is a defeated power, truculent, morose, xenophobic, but certainly as dangerous as Germany in 1938. To bring Eastern Europe into NATO will fan the flames of nationalism and aid the worst elements in Russia’s continuing upheavals.

Bosnia is a terrible precedent that someday may send American sons and daughters to die in Eastern Europe. Norman Nelson Colbert


Question where you’re coming from

The Constitution of the United States guarantees freedom of religion. Does this also mean freedom from religion? How about separation of church and state?

When we die, will God turn us away from heaven because we are not the same as he is? Is God prejudiced?

Would you like a law that promotes discrimination against you because of your religion? After all, is that not a choice you made, not one you were born with?

Why do you insist on following only the words of God that are convenient for you and not all of them?

Is it not hypocrisy to take the money of those you don’t approve of, then curse them in church?

Remember, hatred breeds hatred. Do you want your children hating people because they are different?

Have my words angered you? Good. That means you’re questioning your own self-righteousness.

Isn’t there something in the Bible about throwing stones? William Brown Spokane

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