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by Inlander Readers & r & & r & Housing for Whom? & r & I would like to thank the ingenious individual(s) who identified the necessity for building more upscale condominiums in downtown Spokane. Our city needs to attract more wealthy Californians and other urbanites looking for a cheaper alternative to big city living.


However, don't forget: We live in a community in which more than 7,000 individuals are currently homeless. Nearly 20 percent of the children in Spokane live in poverty. Through my work with Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs' Homeless Program, I have been exposed to the plight of many homeless and low-income individuals and families. Many of these homeless families will wait on Spokane Housing Authority's list for affordable housing for nearly two years before obtaining a roof over their heads.


I believe Spokane deserves the predicted economic boom from our new $79 million dollar convention center and renovated downtown area. However, Spokane citizens cannot continue to stand aside while statewide and local cuts to multiple beneficial public programs significantly impact low-income and homeless community members' lives. What if our community's economy was not measured by rising real estate prices? What if we were measured by the undeniable lack of affordable housing available to our most vulnerable citizens? We cannot continue masking the reality of impoverished Spokane citizens' lives with the disguise of a high-end downtown area.


My plea to the powers that be: Prove me wrong. Prove that Spokane's economic gains will reach beyond the deep pockets of the wealthy to the outstretched arms of the poor.





CALLIE MONROE & r & Spokane, Wash.





Up on Running & r & Kudos to all of you, and especially to Luke Baumgarten, whose Last Word article ("Fanfare for the Common Stud," 2/16/06) is right on. Megan O'Reilly's accomplishment at the Husky Classic truly deserved more airtime/print than what I've seen. In fact, The Inlander is the only place I found this astonishing accomplishment.


Being a new parent to the high school "minor" sports scene -- my daughter Lauren runs cross country and track for East Valley as a freshman -- I had the pleasure to watch Megan run a few times last fall during the cross country regular season/regionals/state. I used Megan as an example to show my daughter what she could accomplish.


We parents can only encourage our kids so much, but seeing their name in the news goes a long way to bolstering that dedication.





MICHAEL G. BERGAM & r & Spokane Valley, Wash.





McMedicare & r & Rep. Cathy McMorris is now running an ad telling seniors to sign up for the "Medicare Drug Benefit." Most of us know that it's a fiction. In fact, the GOP Congress simply inserted more than 300 middlemen (with overpaid CEOs, overhead and stockholders) between seniors and their drug needs. Medicare can't even negotiate prices like the Veterans Administration. Drug companies get subsidized, and seniors will be penalized for delaying their signing up. Seniors get locked in for a year, but their drug plan can at any time stop covering the drugs they signed up for.


Why is McMorris now urging seniors to sign up, just when some in Congress want to revisit the plan and fix it or scrap it for a real drug plan that is actually run by Medicare, getting the hundreds of middlemen out of the way and out of the profit loop? Who is McMorris working for, anyway?





STEVE GIGLIOTTI & r & Davenport, Wash.





Bush-Bashing & r & Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) has the ability to stand up for constitutional principles regardless of personal attacks. It is the duty of Congress to admonish the president when he has broken the law. George Bush has admitted to breaking the FISA law by wiretapping American citizens without a warrant. No one argues that these wiretaps should take place, but the way in which Bush proceeded goes against current FISA laws -- that came about after Nixon abused his presidential power. Bush could have easily asked his Republican-led Congress to change the rules?


I applaud Sen. Feingold for being the first senator to stand up against the war in Iraq and against the Patriot Act -- and now to censure President Bush.





DAVID JETER & r & Spokane, Wash.





Trees or Traffic? & r & After months of lecturing the public about the importance of the fiduciary responsibility of spending 2004 street bond money, Citizens' Streets Advisory Commission Chairman Dallas Hawkins asked CSAC to approve an "early completion incentive" of up to $50,000 for the contractor on the 29th Avenue project. This, according to the CSAC's February meeting minutes, is due to a concern about having to detour traffic for an extended period during construction. The contractor will be awarded $5,000 per day for every day the project comes in under schedule, up to a cap of $50,000.


What does our $50,000 buy us? Ten days of not having to make detours around 29th Avenue construction!


Chairman Hawkins keeps telling us that there is no money in the 2004 Street Bond fund to obey the law and abide by Comprehensive Plan policy that mandates pedestrian safety, traffic calming and street trees. But money to purchase 10 fewer constructions days? Sure!


What would $50,000 buy in street trees? According to the city's urban forester, new street trees cost approximately $300 each. That comes to 166 trees. Figuring those trees would be worth just the average value of all those sick, diseased and dying trees on Bernard ($7,609) in thirty years, the value of those trees would grow to $1,263,044.


Ten extra days of hassle-free travel on 29th Avenue next summer or 166 street trees worth over a million dollars for the next generation -- which alternative would you choose?





RICHARD RUSH & r & Spokane, Wash.

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