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Efficiency Before Roads -- I voted no on the street bond for one simple reason: Our local government is about as inept as a fish out of water, and it has shown us no accountability in the past two years I have lived here.


Where did the money go that we already paid for the roads? Before I give them any more of my money, I need to be able to see some real responsibility.


It's not fair to tax property owners, many of whom are elderly and do not even drive. They need to stop taxing us to death and reduce their own internal expenses. We need a more efficient city, county and state government before we can do anything.


Rachel Hartman


Spokane, Wash.





Test Private Wells -- Humans can make it about seven days without water -- and we get thirsty long before that. Water makes up almost two-thirds of the body, making it possible for our blood to flow, carrying food and oxygen to our cells.


Public water supplies are tested routinely for many contaminants, but if your drinking water comes from your own well, you alone are responsible for assuring its safety.


How can you be sure your water is safe to drink? It's a good idea to test your well water once a year for coliform bacteria, nitrate, pH and total dissolved solids (TDS). It's best to test for these contaminants during the spring or early summer after a rainy period. If nitrate is present in significant amounts in your drinking water, it can indicate that your water is being affected by over-fertilization, runoff from animal manure, decomposing plant materials or runoff from your septic system.


An elevated nitrate level doesn't pose a health threat for most people. However, nitrate levels at or above the drinking water standard of 10 mg/L have been known to cause a potentially fatal blood disorder in infants less than six months of age. It's especially important to use a safe water source for mixing formula for babies six months and under.


To help you learn more about protecting your drinking water well, the Home-A-Syst program of WSU Cooperative Extension will be doing a free nitrate screening test at the Country Living Expo at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center on Saturday, March 23, for those who come to the 5 pm program, "Water Quality Testing for Private Wells." Just bring a small, recent sample of drinking water from your well in a tightly sealed jar. This is an indicator test for educational purposes only, and we are not selling or making recommendations for treatment devices.


Chris Koehler


WSU Cooperative Extension


Spokane, Wash.





Keep Wal-Mart Profits Local -- Your article on Wal-Mart in the Feb. 21 edition of The Inlander was truly enlightening. Let us accept everywhere the Wal-Mart philosophy all in one shot; let us get rid of the competition. Without competition, the cornerstone of the capitalist's system, we'll then get only minimum wage jobs with no health coverage, and no permanent jobs or security. No one could ever own a decent house or car. Who would repair the roads? What a dull future to look forward to.


Where will the taxes come from if as at present all profits go to Arkansas? Will Arkansas be responsible for all other commitments in states where Wal-Mart offers a store?


All city councils must insist that all profits made in the state be left in the state where Wal-Mart has the store. We should insist on full insurance coverage for all staff, full- and part-time, free medical coverage, a certain lump sum for road repairs and upkeep of parks. The kind of monopoly Wal-Mart represents must be stamped out. We should also set a limit of imports from countries that use cheap children's labor or place increased tariffs on goods from these countries.


Wal-Mart will only help to create further poverty beyond what we have -- create further credit card debt on the North Side. Why didn't Wal-Mart build a store on South Hill? Intriguing politics, indeed.


Charles E. Auton


Spokane, Wash.





Alcohol Kills More -- In your Jan. 24 issue, your "Price of Poverty" article was good, but I had a disagreement with the statement that the Health District report concludes that marijuana use among youth should be addressed.


Isn't it more correct to conclude that since alcohol was used by about 18 percent more kids than pot, and alcohol kills far more people than pot, that the alcohol issue should be addressed?


Here's another idea: What if microscopic pictures of normal brain cells and those of a person who did speed for six months were posted in schools? The caption could be: "These are brain cells. Who did speed?"


Kids aren't stupid, and they can decipher real information if it is presented properly. They know what a brain is and what an egg is. Show them a real brain on drugs.


John Scatchard


Spokane, Wash.





Child Labor at Wal-Mart? -- About 10 years ago, I spent a winter down in the southeast portion of our nation. I had read in the papers that Wal-Mart exploited other countries by having children work to make their clothing. Kathy-Lee Gifford was brought before Congress to account for her part in the exploitation, since Wal-Mart used her name on the clothes.


What got to me the most was whenever we walked into a Wal-Mart, we were greeted with a big banner that read: "Made in America!" My concerns are about what their policies are in buying and selling. But I do think it is great that there is a place where low-income people can afford to shop.


Margaret Wold


Spokane, Wash.

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