Testi-Mining -- I want to thank The Inlander for a very informative article regarding the unfortunate development of the Spokane Rock Products Quarry ("Cul-de-sac Mining," 2/6/03). My house sits on the rim of the quarry, and I have had firsthand experience with the awful noise and the eyesore that has emerged over the past two months. It is unbelievable that this project was ever approved.
Like so many of my neighbors, I attended public meetings, called county officials and wrote to the Public Works Administration regarding the high level of noise coming from the quarry. No one seems to be listening.
There is an excellent document on the Spokanecounty.org Web site regarding the Planning Commissions' findings (dated Jan. 16). It says, "Spokane Rock Products, Inc. site as a mineral land does not meet the Washington Administrative Code guidelines for classification of mineral resource lands..." The document also states that the 1981 Comprehensive Plan designated the quarry as "Urban," stating that, "Mining... would not be compatible within Urban Areas". It appears to me that this site was determined unsuitable for mining way back in 1981.
It is absurd to put a full-scale mining and blasting operation in the middle of a residential area. There is no shortage of basalt in this county, as there are hundreds of more suitable locations for an asphalt-producing, rock-crushing, blasting site that could be easily accessed off I-90.
The first time I heard the bulldozers in the quarry, I believed we were in the midst of a freak thunderstorm. The noise level is very high, and the scraping and dumping of rock along with the "beep, beep, beeping" has forced me to turn on the TV or radio to drown out the sound. I think this is just the beginning of worse things to come, and I'm not just referring to the odor and the truck-infested traffic on Eighth Avenue.
Anne M. Boyd
What About China? Saudi Ararbia? -- Previous to an invasion of Iraq, those who will prosecute, finance and shed blood in an attempt to disarm Saddam, need to ask the following questions: Is not Iraq, like all nations with recognized borders, a national currency and indigenous populace, a sovereign entity? If so, then someone explain how opposing governing bodies can arbitrarily demand that Iraq disarm?
Under what legitimate authority can the United Nations, or anyone with 10 times the size and strength of other nations, tell one that it can possess weapons of mass destruction yet prevent another from the legitimate prerogative of self-defense in the modern world?
Personally, I would prefer to see that all nations disarm simultaneously.
If, in fact, the United States can determine who will have the big toys and who won't, I would much prefer that China be disarmed. If the China threat appears implausible, then watch what happens should the U.S. attempt to thwart China's expressed intent to take back Taiwan. Beijing has stated unambiguously that during an invasion of Taiwan it will use its nukes against an interloping adversary, should it be deemed necessary. And, let's not forget, China, unlike Iraq, possess intercontinental delivery capability.
I hardly consider the perceived threat from Iraq something the United States need fear. Should Iraq attack the United States, our nation will not be showered with "weapons of mass destruction." Rather, such an attack would engender the use of low-tech devices engineered and implemented by surrogates. And the longer the United States arrogantly dictates the present and future state of Iraq, the more likely this scenario is.
Given that the only proven Arab threat is Saudi Arabia, a previously silent threat that culminated in the destruction of the World Trade Center, I really wonder why Iraq is even on the front burner of foreign policy initiatives? The Saudis appear to be having it both ways -- American bases operating on Saudi territory, and Saudi nationals destroying lower Manhattan.
Since the end of the Gulf War, after Iraq's invasion of a speck of turf known as Kuwait, have any of us really feared the Iraqi regime? I fail to discern anything resembling a viable threat.
Read Her Lips -- In her opinion piece in this week's The Inlander ("Options: Open, 2/6/03), Lisa Brown makes her case against the Governor's new budget. In doing so she rattles off 10 different services that, in her opinion, should not be cut or reduced, and zero services that should be cut. Her solution is to "review... tax cuts and revenue diversion measures passed during the last 10 years," which is another way of saying "raise taxes," which were cut or reduced often times by general vote of the people of the state through the initiative process.
So what is all this hand-wringing about over the state budget? The answer is right in front of us. Ignore the will of the people and just raise taxes.
Smile, Spokane -- In response to "Hard to Swallow," a letter in The Inlander on Jan. 30 by Betty Fowler: I am a dental assistant here in Spokane. I lived in Tacoma for 38 years. Yes, the water is fluoridated there, thank God, or my two children, 14 and 18, would have much more decay than they have now, which is none.
Explain that, Ms. Fowler, when you urge the citizens of this city to write their congressmen to vote no on fluoridation. Our fine city has the highest rate of decay of any large city in the state. Is it the lack of fluoride or the lack of education on proper dental hygiene? Both, I'm sure, as I see the effects of these two major issues every day at my job.
So please, citizens of Spokane, write to your congressmen to mandate fluoride throughout our state. You will save your children a lot of anguish in the dental chair.
Nine Mile Falls, Wash.
On The "White" Street -- Posing questions to locals about political issues tends to be an enjoyable weekly read in The Inlander. There is generally a nice variety of opinion that shows that there are some thinking people on the street. Unfortunately, this week (1/30/03) you missed the mark in a bad way. Posing the question "Do you think affirmative action..." to a handful of white people is both sad and pathetic. Yes, this is something that impacts the white community. However, we are unable to understand what it is like to be non-white in America. We are unable to clearly see the differences in daily life that are subtle and go unnoticed by the white community.
This can prove to be especially true in a community like Spokane, which lacks diversity. If you do not believe me, I suggest you ask a close friend who is not white and who will be honest with you. Affirmative action came about for a reason, and I think you need to ask those whose opinions would be truly insightful and educational.
Get Real About CCX -- I have been reading for the past several months about the expansion of the Convention Center ("Arena in Hock?"
1/30/03). As a new resident of the area, at first I found the articles that described the facilities and the placement of the expansion interesting; then that interest changed to amusement at the local governments as they tried to move from the planning stage into financing the expansion; but finally I am truly annoyed at the squabbling among those governmental bodies over how much they are willing to give up or not give up to finance the expansion of the Convention Center.
It seems to me a good dose of reality is needed in this situation. If the expansion of the Convention Center is good for the area, then, as with all governmental projects, it will have to be financed with debt. If debt (i.e., tax-exempt municipal bonds) is to be sold, then the security for that debt has to be whatever the marketplace demands. If the marketplace's demands for secure revenue streams to pay off the bonds are not built into the offering documents for the sale of the debt, it can't be sold and the PFD will not have the financial resources to expand the Convention Center. End of story.
For this type and size of project financing, the "marketplace" to which I refer consists of the institutional buyers of tax-exempt municipal bonds. Mostly these buyers are mutual fund companies and property/casualty insurance companies, with the occasional bank and wealthy individual included. These sophisticated buyers have specific security features they expect to find in the debt financing for a convention center project. Since such projects are considered very risky on their own, without these security features, it is highly unlikely the debt financing could be sold.
However, in the case of the Spokane area there is an additional caveat. Last year I dropped into the national convention of the municipal bond analysts to visit with some of my former colleagues. When I mentioned that I had moved to Spokane, I got comments like, "Oh, the place that welches on its debt" from a vice president at one of the major bond rating agencies. Comments like this, which derive from the default by the parking garage bonds, are part of the thinking in the marketplace right now. This means that for the County to preserve its bond rating after issuing convention center bonds, there may need to be more security than usually expected for such bonds. What I am saying is that the marketplace exacts a penalty on governmental bodies in a geographic area when there is a history of defaulting on debt, no matter how unrelated the defaulted debt is.
To finance the expansion of the Convention Center, the PFD and the City of Spokane have to agree to whatever will preserve the bond rating of Spokane County. That "whatever" is determined by the marketplace where the bonds will be sold, not by territory-preserving officials at local government bodies.
Bushwacked -- Just what is wrong with the policies of the current administration? Is it wrong to give a tax cut to the rich? Is it wrong to want to wage war in order to secure peace? What could be wrong with pumping oil out of the Artic Wildlife Refuge? Why not throw everyone you want to suspect of terrorism into jail without the right of an open hearing with legal representation? Why not make Americans report their travels overseas and check up on whom they visited? What could be wrong with suspending the environmental reviews of timber sales? Doesn't everyone agree that snowmobiles and four-wheelers should have unlimited access to all of our national parks? I could go on. The list of things that have happened or been proposed since George W. Bush became president is enormous, but they are all similar in their error.
The policies all lack compassion, and they are founded on the premise that those in power are right and correct and the rest of the world needs to get in line or suffer the consequences. We need to learn that healing can take place if we act in love and compassion. It was the policies of war and power that brought on the awful day of September 11. The policies of war and power are helpless to prevent any additional attacks. We have quietly surrendered our rights and freedoms to get nothing in return. Only when we learn to treat the poor and the broken-spirited with the same quality that Bush's daughters get, loving acceptance and forgiveness, will there be hope of improving life for everyone.
I grew up thinking that this country was something special. I learned the words of the Statue of Liberty. If the current policies of this president continue, that statue will have to be moved to someplace where those words have meaning. We can wage war, but we will not get peace if we become the evil empire.
We need policies that help all of the people, not just the rich. Trickle-down economics was in reality a trickled-on economic package for those who lost homes and farms and jobs under the previous Republican presidents. We now have a crippled economy, rising unemployment, a broken stock market and rapidly rising deficits. We need a new respect for the working man, health care for everyone and an end to war for the sake of oil. When we start using our resources to help needy people and end the domination of corporations, we will be able to renew this country and make it truly a place that we can be proud of. Please support all efforts toward peace and refuse to allow your president to continue his policies of aggression.