More For the Widening I-90 Debate -- The I-90 dialogue in your paper over the last couple of weeks is very welcome, as the public needs to better understand what the DOT plans for the section from Sprague to the Hamilton interchange. Two significant local transportation issues not covered in that dialogue are discussed below.
The most critical local section of I-90, according to modeling a few years ago by the Spokane Regional Transportation Council (SRTC), is between the Division and Maple St. ramps. Local I-90 congestion is worse in that section as it carries a significant amount of city-only traffic in addition to the through traffic. For a freeway to be free-flowing there cannot be even one congested area. Yet, in this "heart of the city" section of I-90, there is NO apparent practical way to add lanes except to double deck or to add a collector-distributor system, which would be very expensive and terribly disruptive to existing businesses. After being asked repeatedly what could be done to ameliorate the congestion predicted by the SRTC modeling, a local DOT manager told me that we'd have to double deck I-90.
That statement was an opinion, not supported by analysis. But recently that same manager told me that the DOT hoped to get funding in about 18 months to initiate a study of the I-90 congestion, west of Division. It is not reasonable to design more roadway capacity on the section of I-90 from Sprague to the Liberty Park/Hamilton interchange without first having even a conceptual solution to the narrower, more heavily traveled section of I-90 west of Division. Please DOT, plan ahead.
The second issue, the impact on neighborhoods of pouring more concrete, was discussed in several letters. Is there a better solution? The SRTC mission is to provide for the safe and efficient movement of goods, people and services making use of multi-modal transportation. What would happen if the DOT embraced the SRTC mission and looked for a better approach than to budget the vast majority of Washington state transportation funds to construct more roadways? Perhaps we could learn from Portland, Ore., where a functioning freeway through the center of downtown was torn down and replaced by a park. How? The key part of the answer was to build a light rail system, so successful it is continuing to be expanded. I've used it and it is really great! They integrated bus service with the rail operations and DISCOURAGED private auto use by reducing parking downtown.
In brief, it is possible to improve the quality of life of city residents, to provide GOOD urban public transportation at a lower cost than driving a car, with a reduced expenditure of taxpayer money for transportation infrastructure such as roadways. The magic bullet is to reduce the overpopulation of cars. PROGRESSIVE PORTLAND should be our role model!
Bush is Doing Great -- Is George W. Bush a Truman or an acorn off the old tree? Thank you, Mr. Hughes, for lumping civil liberties of Americans, foreign terrorists, and military prisoners into one austere category -- as you do in your commentary in The Inlander's Feb. 7 edition.
The poor isolated nation of the Taliban and Al Qaida is just a simple threat? I think not! I don't know about anybody else, but what I have been dreading since I graduated in 1955 is an out-and-out war in my backyard where my child is playing.
Civil liberties guarantee free speech, thought and actions, limited only insofar as their use does not interfere with the rights of others.
The Bill of Rights firstly pertains to our rights, then secondly liberties. Calling tough questions Bush has to address is not a cornucopia but a caldron of crucial issues. President Bush was left with a lap full of crap from the last administration and, yes, he has his work cut out for him, especially when the opposition is more concerned about the upcoming election. Considering everything, on a scale of 1 - 10, I give our President an 8.
Street Bond is Wrong -- Before I could in good conscience support a much-needed bond issue to fix our streets, I would first want to see that we are going to get a just return on that investment.
The way the city is going about this problem is wrong. They are addressing only the symptom of a much larger problem. That problem is that over the years the city council/city manager and now the mayor are not putting in place a set amount of the general fund budget for the repair of the streets.
In polling these leaders, one quickly finds out that they are not willing to take politics out of the formula. They must be forced to do this. To do that will require a charter change directing a fixed percent of the general fund budget for planned and scheduled maintenance and repair of the capital asset called streets.
Each year since I have been back home I have noticed that the street deptartment was ready with and could justify their plan for maintenance and repair of our streets. Each year the senior city staff and council choose to fund less important, albeit popular, projects rather than focus on the primary purpose of government, public safety and public works. This resulted in the steadily deteriorating situation that we are now faced with.
The drafters of our city charter wisely decided that a percentage of the budget should be set aside for parks. This was due to their concern that the maintenance and upkeep of our parks should not be left to the whims of politics. As you know, they stipulated 8 percent. Talking with the people who do the work on our streets leads me to believe a similar percentage would be required to maintain and repair our streets in such a manner as to get the best lifetime service from each dollar spent. (Additionally, it is an imperative that load restrictions be placed on our streets and strictly enforced, with violators being severely fined.) Lacking this, I fear we are doomed to repeat this cycle every ten years or so.
But how do we fund this fixed percentage of the budget? One of the greatest complainers about our streets are those who work in our fair city but choose to live elsewhere. These folks as you know commit nothing to the repair and maintenance of the street system. We can involve them in several ways. Each would require strong leadership from the political segment of our city as well as the business segment
One option would be to impose a county-wide fuel tax. The proceeds of such a tax would be distributed to the county and municipalities based upon population. This tax would be collected at the wholesale point of distribution on all fuel products sold for use in the county. It would be collected from all purchasers, private as well as public. To do this the county commissioners would have to agree to place it before the voters for approval. This, of course, would have to be presented to the voters, preferably at the time the charter change and the bond issues are presented. The fuel tax would be dedicated to repair and maintenance and the bond issue to rebuilding failed streets and paving those remaining dirt streets.
Another option for funding street repair and maintenance is an employment permit required to work in the City of Spokane that would be paid by all individuals working within the city as well as employers. These funds, like a fuel tax would be dedicated to the repair and maintenance of the streets. This approach would require assistance from the state legislature. It is a practice used by several cities back east.
I am convinced that the people of Spokane will not approve a bond Issue until such time as assurances that can only be achieved by a charter change, are put in place, guaranteeing the availability of funds for street repair on a regular basis. This will remove the politics from the issue and insure that the streets receive the priority they deserve.
Eyman the Lie-Man -- Well, now, hasn't the Lord of the Ring salesman shown a lot of, uh, INITIATIVE, with his forced "under the weight of irrefutable evidence" admission that he diverted donations into personal coffers?
Technically, though, his "I didn't take a dime" stance was the truth. In fact, Timmer the Skimmer didn't take just a dime -- he took $450,000 of the shiny little meter-feed. In standard American monetary units, that's $45,000. We shan't be surprised if the Public Disclosure Commission finds yet a lot more dime-age done than that.
Eyman stood stalwart against wasting public tax dollars. I don't know for sure, but I can imagine that the investigation into his seedy doings will cost the public plenty -- one way or another.
Should have 'fessed up, Tim, and spared us the sorry drama and investigative expense. Besides, greed and deceit are honored traditions in American politics and business. Your reputation would have come out intact.
What with that big bonus, maybe Eyman can finally hire that limo to drive him down to his local county courthouse to pay the fee and file the forms that will officially change his name to Super Tim I-Man (I for Initiative). Or, Lie-Man, maybe.
His critics suggest that, instead of initiative-mongering, Eyman would better further his tax reform causes by assuming a seat in either the Senate or House -- in other words, by becoming a politician. It would seem that Eyman is too dishonest and self-serving even to be a member of a legislature.
Besides, he's got an extremely lucrative business going on -- and I don't mean the ring thing. We do bear in mind that Mr. Tim has done nothing illegal and is free to travel and move about -- out of this state, would be nice -- at will. Whatever happens, we won't worry too much about our favorite, anti-tax Patriot. He will always have a spiritual place in frat O-make-a A-mega Lie. There, with fraternal brothers Kenny Boy Lay, Jeffrey Swilling, et al., there will be much yuck-it-up back-slapping over sham corporations, stealth accounting and new-age auditing. There will also be a religious observance -- group prayers to their God of $elf-Enrichment, thanking Him for making people who continually place their trust and money in questionable leadership and vision.
The public, perhaps, is a sucker -- reborn every minute?
James M. Cranford
Masons Do Much Good -- I'm writing in response to Mike Corrigan's article, "Frat Boys," in the January 31 Inlander. As a 32 year-old Mason here in Spokane (and not yet graying, thank you very much), I was a bit apprehensive when I turned the page and saw the picture of the Fez. Oh, great, I thought, here comes another Mason-bashing piece.
But instead, I found an article that was reasonably well-researched and, for the most part, thoughtful. (Although just once I'd like to read an article about Masonry that doesn't use the phrase "Grand Poobah." It's simply not as original or witty as writers seem to think.)
I appreciated Corrigan's characterization of the Craft as promoting brotherly love, philanthropy and truth. To clarify the philanthropic aspect, he might have noted that the Spokane Scottish Rite's "Shoes for Kids" program recently distributed 1,138 pairs of shoes to local kids who may not otherwise have been able to afford them. All for free.
There are many more instances of Masonic giving than I have room to go into here. So, in short, I was pleasantly surprised at Mr. Corrigan's fair and mostly positive treatment of the Fraternity. Until the last two paragraphs, that is. Why is it that journalists so often feel they have to throw something negative into an otherwise positive article? It's as if Corrigan read his writing and said to himself, "this is way too positive; I should add something at the end to put the Masons down." Sadly, I think it backfired.
After listing several prominent Masonic figures from history and noting that Masonry contributed significantly to the evolution of modern culture, even that it "embodied the intellectual ideals of the Age of Enlightenment," Corrigan proclaims, "I certainly don't see myself as Mason material." How sad for him that he doesn't see himself as someone who could belong to such a noble organization.
His explanation is that Masonry has a "decidedly unenlightened" policy of only admitting men. Is his position that men and women have to do everything together? Perhaps I should make the fact that my wife goes out with her female friends for 'Girls' Night,' a "major sticking point" in our marriage?
Corrigan also notes that because we do not discuss politics or religion in the Lodge, it must be "incredibly dull." We don't discuss those things because they often drive a wedge between people, rather than bringing them closer to one another. Believe me, there are plenty of other things we can talk about. Personally, I find people who only want to discuss religion or politics a bit dull.
It is true, as Corrigan notes, that membership in Freemasonry and other fraternal organizations is on the decline. It's too bad that he's already decided not to look into becoming a member, especially after all the good things he found out about Masonry during his research. We are always happy to welcome men of quality into our Fraternity, for only if people continue to join can we continue to do good works for the community.