We live south of Spokane, just off Highway 195 on Stutler Road. We moved here because it is a peaceful setting with abundant wildlife, clean air, pure drinking water and healthy soil, which I farm organically.
In the past year, a neighbor has petitioned Spokane County for a zone change that, if approved, would allow him to mine gravel and make asphalt on 160 acres near Highway 195.
The applicant believes his right to acquire money outweighs his neighbors' right to a clean and peaceful environment with ample water.
Without permits, the applicant has destroyed wetlands, trespassed and destroyed on a neighboring lot to construct a two-lane road.
Spokane County has turned a blind eye on all of it. Imagine that! Not only is most of the neighborhood against this zone change, but the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has come out against it because the proposed rezoning and development would destroy an elk migration route.
If it is allowed to go in, many of the drinking water wells around the proposed quarry will be severely damaged or destroyed. Golfers at Hangman Creek Golf Course can look forward to dust-filled air, heavy equipment noise and the lovely smell of asphalt batching. Traffic will increase dramatically, with more accidents as more than 1,000 heavy trucks attempt to enter and exit the highway. Property values have already been plummeting as news of the proposal circulates.
The only winner of this proposed zone change would be the applicant. Will common sense prevail? Will the county do the right thing by denying this request? We can only hope and continue to challenge the [application].
New Cold War = Hot Debate
I read with great interest Andrew O'Hehir's article, "The New Cold War" (12/2/04). He describes a rather rosy view of the emergent European Union as an economic and political competitor to the USA. Admittedly, on the surface the EU numbers (bigger GDP, social programs, superior education stats, etc.) are impressive. However, I'd like to offer a few "what-ifs" in order to de-rose O'Hehir's EU view:
What if the USA had not come to the aid of Europe in World War II? Sprechen sie Deutsch?
What if the USA had not invested heavily in post-war European reconstruction?
What if the USA had not supported NATO militarily in its efforts to defend Europe during the Cold War with the Soviet Union?
What if the USA had not kicked Iraq out of Kuwait? Perhaps the EU appeasers would have done something with their 60,000-man army by the time Saddam's gang invaded Yemen.
What if the USA had not gone into Afghanistan and Iraq, post-9/11?
The USA has spent billions of dollars and manpower to make the world a better place. The EU has problems of its own (for example, an aging, non-growing population). They're going to have to accept and assimilate immigrants in order to grow their economies. And Europe's track record regarding immigrants isn't so hot.
I hope the EU is a rousing success. Having European countries working together is way better than seeing them waste lives and resources by destroying one another over some Maginot Line. I believe the EU would be better off cooperating with the U.S. rather than being adversarial. Still, whatever the competition is, I say, "Bring it on." As "W" would say, "It's hard work." We'll handle it, whatever it is.
I enjoyed your "This Modern World" cartoon (12/23/04) about the fundamentalist Bill O'Reilly.
I know that Bill O'Reilly is about as Christian as a kosher turkey, because most true, humble Christians are not at all like him. He represents Christian drug addicts like Rush Limbaugh and fundamentally dishonest politicians like Tom Delay and, of course, sex addicts like O'Reilly himself. But what Bill and Rush and Tom do represent is what always happens when you give a Christian too much power. They always abuse it. O'Reilly represents the "Christian with too much power" to a Tee: loud, angry, bullying, uncharitable, self-righteous, posturing, vainglorious, narrow-minded and stupid. To think of himself as representing Christianity is a picture of the ludicrous in man's clothing.
Bill also reminds us of why the framers of the Constitution wanted to make sure that government doesn't get in the business of religion. Imagine O'Reilly in the position of forcing his religion on the rest of us. What in heaven's name would restrain his excesses?
Finally, though, I want your readers to imagine what I frequently imagine -- a world without Muslim, Christian and Jewish fundamentalists. Can you picture it? There, do you feel the peace settling over the globe? I do.