Dear Mayor West:
We write to you in disdain and concern over your awarding Harlan Douglass a "Spirit of Spokane" award and thanking him for taking down his spiteful sign (as quoted in "The Year That Almost Wasn't," 2/17/05). It is our understanding that he put up that sign after Mayor Powers and the city told him he had to follow the same laws as everybody else.
Why should his malicious behavior toward this city be rewarded? The fact that you, "have conversations with Harlan almost weekly; he's like the second or third - maybe fourth - largest taxpayer to the city of Spokane" is disheartening. It really tells the rest of us in Spokane what it takes to get the mayor's ear: money. We have attended meetings with Douglass about proposed developments in neighboring areas. He is abrasive, ostentatious and flat-out tells the attendees that he's only holding the meeting because law requires him to. And since the citizens in Spokane are trying to stop this kind of reckless, selfish business, he made huge campaign contributions to particular county commissioners.
We desperately hope that big money is not making the big decisions in this town. Every informed individual knows that we need business for our own vitality, but we don't need unethical business. Our city must be responsible to all its citizens, not just the bullies and those at the top of the food chain.
Pete and Sally McKen
On Meat and Heat
Recently, the Kyoto Treaty on Global Warming went into effect, marking the first time the world (with the notable exception of the United States) has addressed the greatest natural disaster since the last glacial period. The treaty reduces global emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases that trap the sun's heat, melting the glaciers and flooding coastal cities throughout the world. Now U.S. government scientists have confirmed a definite rise in the temperature of ocean waters, the driving force behind climate changes.
Despite our administration's boycott of the treaty, each of us should do our share to minimize emissions of these gases by limiting the use of fossil fuels in our cars, our homes and our diets. Yes, our diets. According to Cornell University Professor David Pimentel, production of animal-based foods accounts for 8 percent of the national consumption of fossil fuels -- nearly as much as driving our cars. It requires nearly 10 times as much fuel as production of plant-based foods.
We can show our support for the Kyoto Treaty and planetary survival each time we visit our supermarket.
Spokane Valley, Wash.
Pamela Skog's letter to the editor, "Suppressing Ideas," (3/3/2005), seems to imply that there is some obligation that a particular publication be perfectly "fair and balanced" according to some formula. This view runs contrary to the Constitution and indeed has been made a complete mockery of by organizations like Fox News. The Fairness Doctrine's value was in preventing a media organization with a monopoly in a market (as we now see frequently in broadcast radio) from shutting out opposing views. Where there is no monopoly, having a variety of independent, reasoned, and even partisan voices is essential.
Even the obvious propaganda of Fox News or a military officer spouting the 'official' line that he or she was given has a place in what should be a rich interchange of ideas in America. It is more important than ever for citizens actively to seek out a variety of information sources, not simply those they agree with or which are most convenient. We all need to scrutinize what we see and hear. This is a sacred trust handed to us by our founders and represents a solemn obligation to fulfill the most basic and fundamental responsibility of U.S. citizenship -- intelligent, thoughtful participation. Unfortunately, with repeated revelations of intentional false statements, paid-for 'news' stories and planted journalists in the White House, this is becoming even more challenging. But intelligent Americans are absolutely required by the fortunate happenstance of their birthplace to do so ... lest we fulfill Winston Churchill's observation that "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
Publication date: 03/10/04