Greed on the Range -- Mark Dowie argues in his story, "Monopoly on the Range," which ran in the Nov. 27 edition of The Inlander, that price manipulation by packers and others on the processing and distribution end of the beef business is the reason ranchers are going broke. It is and they are, but that's just the symptom. The reason the beef industry and the rest of American agriculture is increasingly dominated by monopolists is because ranchers and farmers have been beguiled into thinking that government is responsible for their problems, not the big players that rig the markets to their own advantage.
Talk to these folks and you'll get an earful about how the liberals and their regulations are driving them out of business. Criticize the corporate monolith operating in the next county and you'll likely draw the kind of stare their grandfathers reserved for New Dealers 50 years ago. I know. My family has been in the ranching business in Idaho and Wyoming for five generations.
The idea that we are a nation of yeoman farmers and ranchers faded within months after the acreage limitations of the Reclamation Act were dropped, opening the door to corporate welfare. Poverty, drugs and crime are the new emblems of rural America, not painted barns, 4-H Clubs and county fairs. You wouldn't know that from reading the Farm Bureau magazine, though. And you certainly wouldn't hear it from the predominantly conservative farm-state congressmen who divert these subsidies to the ADMs and the ConAgras of the world in the name of free enterprise.
Share Lotto Winnings -- In regard to the Gift Guide in the Dec. 12 edition of The Inlander and your gift idea No. 10 -- Lotto tickets. It's a good suggestion, but consider the awkward and possibly divisive situation in the (unlikely) event that one of your gifts produces a really big-time winner. Will the recipient feel obligated to share big-time with the giver of the gift?
I started giving Lotto tickets last year. I avoided any such controversy by marking my number choices on one of the pink cards available at each Lotto terminal. Then I asked the clerk to run that one card through the machine x number of times, according to my gift list. That way, everybody received exactly the same chance. If one person hit it big, we all did. No ill feelings. As it happened, the numbers I picked produced no winners at all -- but we all shared equally.
Richard T. Brown
NIMBY is Accurate -- This is regarding the story about the expansion of the West Central Community Center titled, "Day Care Dilemma," which ran in the Dec. 12 edition of The Inlander. The charge of NIMBY is accurate; the West Central Neighborhood Council does not support this project in our backyard, but rather in our front yard.
When Don Higgins [director of the West Central Community Center] approached the neighborhood council for a $35,000 contribution toward the center expansion, he failed to mention that he was pursuing an additional $4 million for the project. He also failed to mention that this was to be a 24-hour facility in a primarily residential neighborhood. One of the concerns of the neighborhood council is that the facility would need to be more centrally located to serve its purpose and justify the expense. Community center staff give differing opinions on the funds, with Higgins insisting that they are site-specific, while Leonard Hendricks, the center's grant writer, contends they are activity-specific.
Other area programs are expanding as well. For instance, the St. Anne's Children's Home, which is also located in West Central, is proposing expansion of its low-income day care from 29 slots to 200 slots. This has never been mentioned by Higgins in his presentations about community needs. The St. Anne's site makes sense, being located on multiple bus lines within the West Broadway Neighborhood Center, in a more urban setting that can accommodate 24-hour childcare.
The West Central Neighborhood Council, on behalf of the Spokane community, is trying to help the center arrive at a more informed location. Higgins will only address questions as they relate to his facility, but the question from the community is much larger.
Chair of the West Central
Get the Skatepark Going! -- The city's Parks and Recreation Department has simply abandoned the under-the-freeway skate project. The local skating world has been waiting for phase two of the project to complete the park, but it does not look like it will ever be done.
It seems like Parks and Rec has come to the conclusion that the park under the freeway is in a dangerous part of town and nobody wants to skate there. The sad thing is there is no flow in the park the way they built it, but the ramps are awesome and have tremendous potential -- it just needs to be finished properly. I do not think building up speed to go up a ramp and then rolling down and hitting a wall is acceptable.
Spokane could have the largest covered community skatepark in the Northwest. If we build it they will come -- that is skaters from all over, which will in return mean income for downtown businesses. Imagine that -- skating all year round and money, too. Wow, there is an idea for the city council. I hope we can spark life back into this abandoned project and do a great service to this city.