by Inlander Readers The Meaning of SpIFF -- The Inlander's Buzz Bin (1/8/04) ran a note about Spokane International Film Festival officials changing our acronym from SNIFF to SpIFF. True, we did, and we thank you for noting that in the column. Somehow festival acronyms acquire a life of their own: the Seattle festival is SIFF, the Vancouver festival is VIFF and so on. The "I" stands for International. We used to be just the Spokane Northwest International Film Festival (SNIFF), with films only from the northwestern United States and western Canada, but since we went this year to full international, and in order not to be confused with Seattle's festival, we've begun referring to ourselves as SpIFF. Thanks for listening.
Robert Glatzer, Festival Director
Cuts Run Deep -- I find the recent decision to cut a full-time firefighting position from the Town of Millwood's 2004 budget very disheartening. I question the council's basis for this cut. Although many citizens chose to speak out against their decision at a recent Town Council meeting, their words appeared to fall on deaf ears. The mayor's statement was prepared before the meeting even began, thus proving there was no interest in considering public comment or responding to the citizen's fear for their safety. We want to be reassured that our tax dollars will provide us with adequate response if and when we should ever need emergency services.
I understand that times are tough - for the government and tax-payers alike. We all must find ways to cut back, to tighten our belts. But do you, for one minute, think that I would make the decision to cut back on my child's prescription medicine in order to retain my housekeeper? Perhaps by working together - the citizens, town government, and emergency services personnel - an alternative solution can be reached whereby public safety does not have to suffer. I acknowledge that our town's emergency call volume is low. But what about that one time when you or your loved ones need the fire department? Will they be able to respond in adequate time?
Although the mayor "personally guaranteed" a response time of four minutes by her fire department in cases of emergency, I would still advise you to be careful living in and traveling through our lovely Town of Millwood. The remaining highly capable, dedicated firefighters (volunteer and full-time) will do what they can to assist you in the case of an emergency within the tightened constraints the mayor and Town Council have now placed upon them, but at times doubtfully within the mayor's guarantee of four minutes.
According to facts stated by the Fire Chief during the same meeting, evening and weekend response times will now average over seven minutes. Whose word will you take with regard to the safety of your person and property? The mayor's or that of trained emergency services personnel?
STA Allowance -- Those of us who voted against the Spokane Transit Authorities request for a 0.3% sales tax increase to support the bus system did so for good reason. The STA, at that time, was the most over-funded, wasteful, dishonest government entity in the area. A vote to continue spending at the level STA officials wanted would have been highly irresponsible.
Now the STA is promising huge cuts in service and bringing (at STA expense?) busloads of protestors to "hearings" where they bemoan their fates before the cameras. I suspect that this is a well-choreographed campaign to soften us up for another election on the 0.3% tax increase.
Nonetheless, as much as I resent being lied to and manipulated by public officials, I recognize that a reliable and reasonably convenient public transportation system is necessary for an urban community to function well, and I doubt that the current STA revenues are enough for the job.
Therefore, I'll support a 0.2% sales tax increase for transit -- provided it's a tax that has to be renewed every two years by the voters, as we do with school bond levies. This will give STA two-thirds of what it wants and gives the voters the power to discipline this agency by cutting its funding if it goes back to its old ways. I would also define "reasonably convenient" as being a bus every half hour on busy routes, and every hour or two on the less-used routes and during slow periods.
Wanted: Gun Control -- Violent crime is down in America. Of course, none of us knows exactly why it's down, but logical people would agree that rational gun control laws could be part of the reason. That's why I am amazed that the gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, is campaigning now to gut the Brady Bill and let the Assault Weapons Ban expire. These are moderate laws that pass the common sense test. The Brady Bill requires that gun sellers keep records on gun sales for 90 days. The Assault Weapons Ban outlaws guns designed to let soldiers mow down enemy troops. I hope Congress puts safety first and defends these laws.
To the Moon, Bush! -- The announced intention by President Bush to establish a space station on the moon is, I believe, an initiative long overdue. I have always believed that once humanity ceases to embrace the pioneering spirit, civilization suffers a retardation of sorts.
During an incipient period of research and development, NASA could also use the time and some of the money to invite President Bush to Houston in order to test the effect of weightlessness on weightlessness. Spokane could also benefit from a resurgent lunar adventure by being contracted to build the necessary parking accommodations -- a cleverly financed garage, if you will -- once the station is up and running.
However, in case funds for a lunar mission are not forthcoming, fear not, as our current missions on earth -- war, poverty and civil unrest ad nauseam -- will soon render the planet a pale, barren moonscape, thus allowing the president and his minions to continue their policy of dismantling the world's sovereign nation-states with their galactic storm-troopers.