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Letters for Feb. 4, 2024

Don’t arm school personnel

H415 provides for the arming of school personnel in Idaho. It is promoted by the NRA lobby. Are they the lobbyists who have been attempting to bribe and threaten Idaho legislators reported in last week’s news?

The NRA once had a more respectable place in our national dialogue. In 1991, Wayne LaPierre made the organization a festering sore on our consciousness. Their nonprofit status benefited the recently retired LaPierre and cronies, currently on trial for fraud. In 2021, the NRA tried to declare bankruptcy. They’ve halted educational programs. In 2017, member Maria Butina, a Russian national, promoted their narrative. She was later arrested, convicted and returned to Russia.

This bill promotes gun use over school protection. When guns are more available, more people are shot. Every gun owner knows this. The tragic scenarios and potential liability for the state are easy to envision. The “packing” adult’s ID is to be concealed from public records.

This bill moving forward as librarians look down the barrel of criminality is dangerously wrong-headed unless we hold legislators liable for criminal stupidity.

Educators, parents and children don’t want guns in schools. Legislators, keep guns out of schools and the NRA out of the Statehouse.

Marilyn Beckett

Moscow, Idaho

Tax relief vs. city essentials

The Spokane Valley City Council is agonizing over a need to expand the police force versus their desire for tax relief. Last year, 56% of my property taxes went to state and local school levies, only 9% went to Spokane Valley. That means that if the city increased its property tax collection by 11%, it would only add 1% to my tax bill. For that 1%I might see an adequately staffed police department, or some long overdue residential street maintenance, or perhaps even (be still my heart) side gates on the snowplows.

Mike Perrin

Spokane Valley

Vote no for the bond and levy

Pushed through by a lame duck school board, the CV School district is threating the community with an ultimatum: Your money or your kids. It’s a powerfully persuasive tactic presented as all or nothing and non-negotiable. Its weapons are fear and benevolence.

The state of Washington dedicates 43% of its budget to K-12 public education. A levy, through property taxes, allows schools to raise additional funds when existing money is deemed insufficient. CV is requesting $137 million, which is $42 million more than the $95 million received in 2021, reflecting a 47% increase. The bond adds another $47 million for a total of $184 million. That’s a staggering 97% increase in 3 years. Current inflation by comparison is roughly 3%.

That’s a big ask. Note that salary and benefits account for 88% of CV’s budget. In fact, 76 of the highest-paid employees make a minimum of $100,000 per year, and most are well beyond that. Of those, only one is a school teacher. An elementary school principal’s salary is $150,000 per year. Search OpenPayrolls.com for an eye-opening picture.

Increased housing costs, through the form of higher property taxes, affects everyone. Bearing the brunt of this will be the elderly on fixed incomes, single-parent families and young adults. Already 13% of the county population lives below the poverty line. One in six are food stamp recipients. Were these people taken into consideration?

While those who stand to gain the most from this will be dancing in the streets, more of us will be living on them.

Demand fiscal responsibility and common sense. Vote no.

Dan Harder

Spokane Valley

How will more money fix the results?

Before voting on Spokane School District Propositions 1 and 2 (levy and bond measures), please keep in mind the following:

1. SPS estimated outstanding bond debt is $598.8 million (9/1/23). The last three years interest has averaged $28.4 million per year. Is this the time to add another $200 million plus interest to that debt?

2. In Spokane, 62% of our property taxes go to schools.

3. According to OSPI Report Card for SPS, washingtonstatereportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us, we are paying, on average, $19,122 to educate each student. Yet in the 2022-23 school year, only 47.1% met the standards in English Language Arts, 35.4% in math, 39% in science. So, while the on-time graduation rate is about 90%, how many students are graduating without the essential skills needed after high school?

4. In Spokane, a library property tax is on the ballot and this summer a tax for parks. In addition, the Washington legislature continues until early March. The legislature usually increases taxes and fees. If the SPS ballot measures don’t pass now, they can be added to the ballot again later this year for the same or a decreased amount, after we know if the legislature increased other taxes.

5. Are schools trying to do too much, such as providing free breakfasts and lunches to all students, not just those in financial need? Should SPS reprioritize spending to focus more on teaching students essential reading, writing and math skills? Just adding more funds without major changes in priorities will not improve learning.

Gretchen McDevitt

Spokane

A dysfunctional city

It’s been said that you get the government you vote for. As a lifelong Spokanite, neither the street names nor monuments were ever a cause for therapy. Spokane can’t even patch the antiquated streets or clean graffiti up, and yet this? I suppose the voters want this more than a functional city, huh? When you can’t address the felony, you fixate on the misdemeanors. Sad days ahead for Spokane.

Chris Merkel

Liberty Lake

We need to hear everyone’s viewpoint

I was very shocked but not surprised about The Spokesman-Review’s editorial policy changes.

This is a national election year, and we absolutely need the connection with national, state and local news to see others’ opinions in an agree-disagree conversation on the state of affairs. If four people are having a conversation, there’s a chance each will have a different opinion. We need to hear everyone’s viewpoint. Isn’t this country about freedom of expression?

Apparently, that is the motive of the pro-Palestinian group that demonstrated at the City Council meeting.

Since the paper reports on national and international news, wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to express these sentiments to newspeople who might have actually done a news piece with interviews rather than a City Council meeting that focuses only on local issues? The City Council can’t change happenings abroad unless the desired effect was just to grandstand.

Were the editorial adjustments more from lack of resources rather than censorship? The paper has downsized significantly. Perhaps fewer employees to screen submissions. Additionally, if too many submissions trigger emotional, angry reactions about the national election polarization, perhaps no editorials are a better option.

Carol Echtenkamp

Spokane

Keep it local

I fully support the new letters to the editor policy. If you were to write a letter to the editor about national issues, I guarantee you that no one on the White House staff or Donald Trump’s campaign would ever care about it or see it. The main purpose of a letter like that is to vent your frustration, and there is a plethora of social media outlets for you to choose from to blow off that steam. (You can engage more in back-and-forth discussion there, too.)

However, if people are writing about a local issue, there is an extremely good chance that someone on the local city council, school board or even state legislature will see it and take note, especially if multiple people address the same issue. If the opinion section is clogged up with people complaining about how awful Biden/Trump are, we miss those opportunities to make actual, beneficial changes for ourselves and our neighbors with our voice in the paper.

Keep it local and see if your influence makes a difference.

Brittany Adams

Spokane Valley



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