Waste to energy - at what cost?
Staff writer Karen Dorn Steele’s March 14 article about increased amounts of dioxin that may be emanating from the Spokane trash incinerator causes me to think, once again, about what the real cost of the facility might be.
Dioxin is deadly. A microscopic amount may injure, even kill, a human being. For example, it is known that a person may become afflicted with cancer as a result of contact with dioxin. For a single individual, there may be so such thing as a safe dose.
So what is the cost of Spokane’s incinerator? It may be a life, or lives. Perhaps one or more of our children is being sacrificed for the privilege of burning our trash: for the privilege of converting our “waste to energy,” as the propagandists then described what they were trying to force upon the people of Spokane.
I raised this concern years ago, before the council decided to build the plant. I did not fight for that concern then; I wish I had. I was too scared to really stand up. I wish I had had the courage to do more than write a letter, complain and vote. Maybe another voice would have helped make a difference. Maybe this wasteful, dangerous facility would not have been built if more of us had joined hands and hearts to prevent the recklessness.
Can we afford the continued folly of the incinerator? We must learn its real cost.
How much longer will it take for us to begin the effort of making Spokane a beautiful city in all respects? Stephen K. Eugster Spokane
And now, too late, we know
Today, I cried. I cried the kind of tears that really sting because I have been holding on to them for too long.
Ten years ago, garbage became my issue. Myself and hundreds of others testified, wrote letters, picketed City Hall, sang songs, risked arrest, begged, pleaded, went on TV, went to Olympia, studied garbage incineration. Some of us went to an actual incinerator in another state, studied recycling and other alternatives, went and saw alternatives.
We invited representatives of other alternatives to testify before the City Council, filled community meetings, contacted county commissioners, state representatives, City Council members, local and state Bonneville Power Administration officials, Department of Ecology officials, jumped through hoops, hired attorneys, sued the city, etc.
We were called members of the radical fringe when we were just like you. We gave up any extra time plus some of our lives. We did this for years as we tried to reason and exercise our rights as U.S. citizens to not allow something to be built in our community that was so fraught with risks, health to financial.
At that time, I said to everyone who would listen and those who would not that when the day came there would be no joy in being able to say I told you so.
Today, I have no joy. Pete Denison Cheney
We’re skeptics, not pessimists
During a recent interview on KPBX, Councilman Orville Barnes made an astonishing statement. He dismissed objections to the River Park Square downtown project on grounds that such viewpoints arose merely from a pessimistic outlook.
At the same time, he admitted there had been no study to indicate how many local people shop downtown. The parking structure is supposed to be one of the sources of income.
Betsy Cowles gave Nordstrom as the most likely attraction and yet made contradictory statements about it. Evidently Nordstrom has enough of a record here to project profits for the next several years. Yet at the same time she states they could decline to renew their lease in 1999. If they are as successful as she would have us believe, why would they consider leaving Spokane?
Cowles quotes an economic impact study showing that if Nordstrom were to leave town, the city would suffer a $3 million loss and about 400 jobs. How does $3 million compare with the $22 million debt incurred to keep them? How much greater would the cost be if they left after the project was completed?
I represent one of the groups (no poll to show how large) of people who avoid shopping downtown - even at Nordstrom. I drive past the downtown section to the malls in the north any time I shop. The driving distance is worth the free parking close to the stores and a pleasant shopping environment. Downtown is unfriendly to shoppers. Gerri L. Wilson Spangle, Wash.
Support Urban Forest program
The Urban Forest program will be of a great benefit to Spokane and will result in the preservation of a healthy, growing community of street trees that so enhance our neighborhoods. Urban trees are a special asset to our city and require the continued care and oversight that the Urban Forest program would set in place.
Trees are growing, living things that do require special care. The small inconvenience of a pruning permit is well worth the guaranteed beauty of our city’s trees. Spokane’s street trees add tremendously to the beauty of our city. Let’s keep it that way with an endorsement of the Urban Forest program. Robbi G. Castleberry Spokane
SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION
Phonics fine but not as sole method
We take exception to Donald Brockett’s scathing and demeaning letter (March 14) regarding the educational community.
Brockett is a product of the system and seems to have succeeded quite well.
In his letter, Brockett severely criticizes education. But educators are not the ones setting policy here, the Legislature is. We have never gotten away from teaching phonics but include with it other strategies for learning to read because we, as educators, know that children learn to read using various strategies, not just phonics. Teaching needs to be left up to the teachers who know their business and do their jobs well, not to legislators who are far removed from the classroom and to critics who know not what they criticize. Bill and Gwen Horvath Nine Mile Falls
I sometimes vote by not voting
There was mention in the March 12 Bagpipes column of “sweeping and lopsided” approval of District 81’s bond and levy. If everyone voting no on the bond and levy would have stayed home, they wouldn’t have passed.
I chose not to vote with the idea I would be keeping the proponents from getting the needed percentage of voters turning out. We have to assume all those who didn’t vote must not have wanted the bond or the levy to pass. Otherwise, they would have voted. The voters saying no at the polls had every good intention not to pass them, but since everyone doesn’t vote, it didn’t work.
I always vote, except in cases like these where I think it’s better not to. So, I vote by not voting. If you compare the numbers of yes voters to no and nonvoters, you get a better idea of how these measures are really supported.
The thing I wonder about is, since we keep pumping more money into schools, why do the test scores in the United States keep going down? If more money was better for our kids, you would think we would have the smartest high school graduates in the world. I guess money can’t buy everything. Steven W. Haxton Spokane
BUSINESS AND LABOR
Inflated minimum wage no panacea
Many who oppose the proposed new minimum wage increase to $8.25 in Spokane are restaurant and business owners who would have to pay their employees more per hour. Many hourly wage workers, however, are also concerned - especially those who have risen above the minimum wage through hard work, training or education.
If businesses are forced to pay unskilled, often part-time, workers wages normally paid to skilled workers, the cost of living will certainly rise. The gross pay of these workers will increase but the increased cost of living will negate the net gain of these higher wages. It is futile and shortsighted to artificially inflate the minimum wage.
Such an increase will also reduce workers’ opportunities to advance. Constantly raising the bottom rung of the ladder will make it increasingly difficult to climb above the bottom. Years of hard work and training will no longer help hourly wage workers advance economically, if the minimum wage is continually raised for unskilled workers.
Everyone who works full time should be paid a living wage. But one must remember that minimum-wage jobs are not meant to be careers. They are merely starting points from which one should attempt to rise.
It is also worthy of note that many minimum-wage jobs are held by students. High school and college students working part time have better opportunities for their future than waiting for someone to raise the minimum wage. Steven J. La Pointe Spokane
Cleanup news is encouraging
The Environmental Protection Agency’s recent announcement it intends to initiate a cleanup plan for heavy metals pollution spread through the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene watershed is a welcome move.
After a century of mining pollution, we are finally on the brink of a comprehensive cleanup - a positive step for the health of the human, wildlife and fish communities that live here. Now we can move beyond the denial and resistance that has slowed real restoration to a crawl and make use of the millions of dollars sitting in the Superfund account to do what they were intended to do - protect our communities and environment from toxic pollution.
The Superfund program requires companies responsible for pollution to pay their share - with Superfund picking up what’s left. (Superfund is generated by a use fee on certain industrial chemicals often found at toxic waste sites). Some share of tax dollars will, inevitably, be a component as well.
Just as the mining contamination occurred over decades, so will the overall cleanup and restoration. With this in mind, the Inland Empire Public Lands Council, through a Washington state grant, has launched development of a Watershed Health Curriculum for area schools. This intergenerational approach to understanding our watershed and how to protect it will be another positive process to carry us into the new millennium. It’s time to move forward! Michele Nanni Inland Empire Public Lands Council, Spokane
Rock Creek mine not worth its waste
Asarco tells us the Rock Creek mine will bring in hundreds of jobs while only dumping 1,000 pounds of heavy metal a day into the Clark Fork River.
The issue is water, and the quality of life we in the Inland Northwest enjoy. Are we willing to contaminate our drinking water in exchange for mining jobs in Montana? Ask Silver Valley children if the lead in their systems or cancer in their bodies is a fair trade for 30 pieces of silver.
Until the mining industry learns how to contain its pollutants, let it concentrate on operating mines closed because of low metal prices.
Troy, Mont., the site of Asarco’s latest mining effort in the region, is closed and supports fewer than 10 employees. Is the Clark Fork another Superfund site waiting to happen? None of us needs that. Terry J. Hughes Spokane
Reduce roads in national forests
How many roads do we need in our national forests? The timber corporations would have us believe that denying them the ability to build roads into every last acre of our public lands is bad. Bad for who?
This January, the Forest Service proposed a temporary halt to road building in some roadless areas of some national forests. Why? One reason is the landslides roads cause, dumping millions of pounds of sediment into our rivers annually, choking our fisheries and clogging domestic water supplies. Another reason is that the Forest Service estimates it will cost $10 billion to repair existing roads.
Timber companies love roads. They make money on road building scams and have exclusive use of many of the roads to log our national forests. But we, the public, own these forests, not multinational timber corporations.
We should ask the Forest Service to take the following steps to protect and restore our national forests:
Stop building new roads in all national forests.
Reduce the road system to a maintainable size. In the Colville National Forest, closing three-fourths of the roads would still allow easy access for hunters and other recreational users.
Who’s going to pay for all the road repairs? Why not the timber corporations that have profited so heavily, while cutting down our forests and stealing our children’s future? Mike P. Petersen Republic, Wash.
Bravo for EWU stand against haters
Eastern Washington University deserves to be commended for its strong stand of zero tolerance for any form of hate, intimidation or discrimination on campus in the wake of the slanderous material sent to student body President LaShund Lambert. The April 1 rally at the Pence Union Building in Cheney is an excellent way to demonstrate to our nations hatemongers that their ideas are not welcome here.
I urge Lambert and EWU to enlist the support of as many organizations and people as possible to join in denouncing this shameful attack on human dignity. The people who distribute hate mail are often very unstable and emotionally unhealthy. They need to know we will not stand for their intrinsically evil and abhorrent beliefs. Otherwise, their words of hate could become actions. Sheryl J. Gamble Post Falls
California perfect for jet boaters
Re: “Jet boaters vow to fight Hells Canyon rules,” (March 11). Jet boaters should take their noisy, non-wilderness crafts back to California - they will be appreciated there. Rhoda G. Friend Cheney
Veterans won’t stand for Nazi parade
Many of us - including many veterans who know what a combat zone is - have been praying for much rain on the parade of Richard Butler celebrating Adolf Hitlers’ birthday. Claiming the parade won’t happen because of his attempted lame excuse that a bail jumper cut into the profits of his operation and it can’t happen now is a smoke-and-mirrors reason.
The prayers of those who want to avoid another war - a race war - have been heard, The plans of Richard Butler and his muffler-draggers who attempt to create sparks of hate in our community are dying on the vine. Butler and the Aryan Nations do not have the support they pretend to represent.
We, as veterans of combat zones, will now come together in the spirit of solidarity to prevent the July 25 march on Sherman Avenue. For we believe that no one should be allowed to disgrace the memory of those who died at the hands of the Nazi SS, especially our loved ones who rest, perhaps hoping that their struggle will not be forgotten.
No, it will be the grass roots reason for preventing this gross insult that needs to be mowed down, in the spirit of family and community. James Gordon Perkins Colville, Wash.
Religion in public schools is real goal
You would think that, after nearly a century, Christianity would have gotten past the evolution-vs.-creationism debate. Reading editorial writer D.F. Oliveria’s column and the debate in school board meetings, it seems that is not the case.
I wonder why those pushing “creation science” are so persistent. Evolution neither confirms nor denies the existence of a creator. It merely tries to explain the process. Many people of faith seem to have no trouble at all accepting both evolution and a creator. Which brings us to question of motive.
The answer to that question can be found in Oliveria’s column, when he quotes the Christian Bible to support his statement on creationism. This argument is not truly about the origins of life. It is simply another attempt by some Christian to put their particular religious beliefs into the school room. They want children exposed to Christianity and pushing creationism is just another way to do that. After all, you rarely hear any of these people who support teaching creation science mention the creation stories of Greek mythology, Muslims, pagans or any creation story other than the one you can read about in Genesis.
Public schools are for children of all faiths and are not the proper venue for teaching religious doctrine. Churches are the place to learn religious doctrine. Michael J. Gay Spokane
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