Selective Cursing -- I have two questions for Jimmy Marks about his letter (of 6/17/04). First, why is all of Spokane under the Roma curse and not just those who were responsible for the alleged violations against the religion? To my way of thinking, the Roma curse is just a form of indiscriminate religious terrorism that is punishing the innocent right along with those who the Roma allege violated their sanctity. What kind of religion is this?
Second, what about the legal team that took up the Roma cause? They have suffered professionally, financially and socially, yet there has been no public acknowledgment of these sacrifices or any specified immunity to the Roma curse for them.
I for one will not be shedding any tears for those who do nothing but take, take, take but fail to give back to those who have helped the Roma in their hour of need.
The Sky Isn't Falling -- Given that the world is currently in a state of wholesale collapse, I fail to understand why so many are intent upon preventing the legal union of gay couples. After all, like any human being seeking the fulfillment of normal wants and desires, who am I to stand in the way of others who merely seek that which I have achieved so easily?
I mean, the union of a gay couple hardly has any discernable impact upon our cultural existence other than, perhaps, freeing up a ton of closet space while mitigating an unnecessary marginalizing experienced by otherwise decent human beings.
The sky will not fall, the polar ice caps will not melt, nor will anyone suddenly join al Qaeda because same-sex couples possess the same piece of documentation as a man and woman.
Regardless of how society defines "marriage," a loving union of two is a condition all need appreciate and accept as such that promotes a more civil and productive culture. We've managed during my lifetime to accept biracial unions, the union of those attempting marriage multiple times as well as welcoming into orthodox society couples who, like me and my lady, simply decide to forgo the license and "shack up."
Therefore, let's end the hypocrisy, virulent condemnation and grotesque selfishness while granting tolerance -- and legal recognition -- to all who seek a particular living arrangement and get on with more important concerns, concerns like saving a planet headed from extinction primarily at the hands of maniacal heterosexuals.
Bad Policy -- When you look at the energy bills being promoted by the Bush Administration, you have to wonder if President Bush is giving special favors to his friends in the oil business, like Halliburton. The bills give giant oil and nuclear companies billions of dollars in tax breaks, while throwing peanuts at projects promoting clean and renewable energy. This is a mistake. Special interest groups should not dictate our country's energy policy.
Parking Lot Guidelines -- I greatly appreciated and enjoyed Mr. McGregor's cover story, "Lots and Lots of Parking Lots" (6/24/04). I was surprised to see it in print, as it was published a few days after I posted a rough draft of Proposed Parking Lot Zoning Guidelines on the Internet: (www.spovegas.com/2004_06.html #000253 or www.douglasrhughes.com/mt-archives/2004_06.html#000028).
I agree that housing and mixed-use developments are desperately needed downtown, and the best use for historical buildings would be these kinds of projects. But one factor leading to the raze-for-parking trend is the lack of stringent zoning code requirements for surface parking lots. Take a look at the ugly lot next to where the old Spokane Falls Brew House used to be: ugly poles, a single strand of chain for a fence, ugly little pay hut, only one entrance over by Moon's Mongolian Grill, which makes a huge eyesore on this most prominent of downtown blocks. There are no requirements to make structures fit in with the surrounding buildings, no requirement for trees or proper signage or entrance and exit points, which would facilitate positive interaction with surrounding blocks and traffic flow.
Part of the reason I think parking lots are pursued at the current rate is the total lack of any real requirements as to what a surface parking lot should be. The zoning and eminent domain powers outlined in the article could certainly be used by the City Council and other applicable groups to establish a set of requirements for surface parking. If we're going to have surface parking all along Spokane Falls Boulevard, we have a right to insist that it fit in with the character of this area, the neighboring river, traffic flows and other public concerns. In the absence of any regulations in this area, there will be little to no economic penalty for razing a building and putting in a chain and an ugly self-service payment booth.
Thanks again for your great article on downtown development. Surface parking issues are important to the future of downtown, and intensive coverage is always helpful.
Now That's Good News -- The Inlander is the best newspaper in the area. Other newspapers are accused of having some kind of bias, or not reporting some stories accurately, but how can a person really tell unless they have personally attended an event and then went home to see the news?
I was at that Spokane protest of the Bush-Nethercutt fund-raiser. My friends and I walked the entire six blocks, made a film and interviewed protesters plus some supporters. The Inlander was the only newspaper or media source that had the story exactly the way it was ("Bush Fills the Streets," 6/24/04) while also giving enough details so readers would know what was going on. CBS news claimed that everyone down there was there to welcome Bush. ABC news downplayed the protest. The Spokesman Review also downplayed the protest, but they also printed the many letters to the editor they received from people who were there and disagreed.
Then there's Arianna Huffington's commentary, "From Henry V to George II," (6/24/04). How often do we see a current event compared with a historical event and see how history repeats itself? The story was brilliant, entertaining and educational. The Inlander gets the prize for being the best news source in the area.
Iris J. Byrne
After-School Success -- There's an amazing untold story occurring in our Spokane schools. It's called the HUBS program, and it's responsible for hundreds of families coming to their neighborhood school building in "out-of-school time" for enrichment opportunities, mentoring and family-centered activities.
The Board and Superintendent of Spokane School District 81 should be commended for their vision in establishing these "community schools" and partnering with community agencies to create safe and enriching opportunities for children and families. All families benefit from the additional academic and enrichment activities provided to youth in the out-of-school hours while parents are at work.
Since our children need a safe place to be, I feel we are all responsible to make this happen. With the budget cuts facing the district, all of us in the community need to step up to keep this valuable program running.