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Opinion & amp;amp; Letters 

Keep Speech Free


On August 19, Spokane will welcome John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO. He will open the convention of the Washington State Labor Council.


Many of Washington State's workers have asked why such a visionary leader insists that all Labor Councils adopt language into their by-laws which throws Labor back to the Red-baiting 1950s.


Sweeney supports adding this passage: "No individual shall be eligible to serve as an officer... or employee of any state central body who consistently pursues policies and activities directed toward the achievement of the program or purposes of authoritarianism, totalitarianism, terrorism and other forces that suppress individual liberties and freedom of association."


Since it was mandated in 2000, many labor organizations in Washington State have passed resolutions calling for the elimination of this objectionable language: the Central Labor Councils of Washington State, King County and Spokane; Locals 304 (Seattle) and 1221 (Spokane) of the Washington Federation of State Employees; the Executive Board of Council 28 (Washington State) of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the Greater Seattle Area Postal Workers Union; as well as "Pride At Work" (the Gay/Lesbian caucus of the national AFL-CIO).


In protesting this language, the above groups all condemned "the clause for being vague, for being a relic of the anti-Communist McCarthyite witch hunts, and for having the potential to chill robust debate and to be used in a discriminatory manner against delegates or employees of the Council(s)... The history of the U.S. labor movement is replete with examples of the U.S. government using charges of 'communism,' 'terrorism' or other vague, jingoistic accusations as a means to divide and harass unions and to blacklist, silence and even frame and imprison union activists and leaders."


Why the protest?


Who are the "terrorists"? Who is to judge? Are they opponents of the "War On Terrorism" or protesters against the WTO? What about the long history of U.S. support for repressive regimes? In the early 1980s, the World Court found the United States guilty of terrorism against the people of Nicaragua for its support of the "Contras" there.


Some of our best labor and civil rights leaders were smeared and persecuted as "Communists" or worse. Among them are great heroes such as Mother Jones, Emma Goldman, Paul Robeson, Harry Bridges, Walter Reuther, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez.


Name-calling is no substitute for freedom of speech. What can we call a situation in which a democratic organization is ordered to adopt undemocratic language in its by-laws without the right to debate or reject it?


After the September 11 massacre, this resolution is needed now more than ever. President Bush's warning that "Those not with us are against us" strengthens the need to protect civil liberties, always threatened by war fever. The present patriotic fervor is certainly generous enough to celebrate our American tradition of dissent.


If not us, then who? Labor is the source of all that builds America. We must model the democracy we demand.





Morton Alexander


member of the Washington Federation of State Employees, Local 1221


Spokane, Wash.





Avista Clarifies


Congratulations to The Inlander on bringing focus to the work of local nonprofit agencies and their incredible volunteers in your recent special Philanthropy section. The efforts of these dedicated people are the soul of what makes our community a great place to call home.


In your profile of Avista, there was one item that bears clarification. This year Avista has contributed $250,000 to Project Share, a fuel-blind energy assistance program managed by Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs (SNAP). This amount represents one donation to a single program and does not include any of the more than 400 contributions made annually by Avista to nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions serving Eastern Washington and North Idaho.


With businesses, nonprofit organizations and committed citizens working together for the betterment of our community and its citizens, there is nothing we can't accomplish. Thank you for raising the awareness of the importance and impact of philanthropy in creating a caring community.





Anne Marie Axworthy


Director of Community Relations and Public Affairs


Avista Utilities





One Funny Paper


I see in your Aug. 1 edition that we at The Local Planet Weekly are "aligned with the Corker-Rodgers-Eugster insurgent faction, writing up those city council members' thoughts and deeds in glowing terms on a weekly basis." It's funny that you published this the same week we published an unflattering story about Steve Eugster and his lawsuit regarding a parked RV.


In the same issue I see that your publisher thinks his newspaper "aims to play the role of a traditional newspaper." It's funny that your newspaper belongs to the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies.


I also see that your publisher claims to have no agenda. It's funny that he gives full pages to Mayor Powers and Betsy Cowles to extol their positions.


So you guys spread lies about your competition, avoid offering an alternative news source in a town where one media company reaches close to 80 percent of the citizens, and claim to have no agenda for what you want to see happen in your community? You guys are running one funny paper.





Matthew Spaur


President, The Local Planet Weekly


Spokane, Wash.





Arts in the Valley


I am writing this letter in regard to the development of the new City of Spokane Valley. Currently the situation is such that we do not have any type of arts and cultural organizations to transition to the new government. There are many wonderful artists in the Valley who are now utilizing the services and venues in the city of Spokane. We have several nonprofit entities that are working on various individual projects related to the arts, such as Mirabeau Point and the Spokane Valley Legacy Foundation. However, the need for an organized approach to the art needs of our new city has become apparent through the research of the new city's Library, Arts and Culture Transition Team.


I am asking that anyone interested in developing and supporting an organized effort in this area to please attend our meetings. If you are unable to attend, you can contact me (927-6873) and add your name to the database we are currently working on. If the arts are important to you, please let us know.





DeeDee Loberg


Library, Arts and Culture Committee Chair


Spokane Valley, Wash.





Community Cares for Children


In the story you did on the new children's hospital in the July 25 edition of The Inlander, I see that Sacred Heart Medical Center is working hard to improve its pediatric services. This is a beneficial and admirable goal, but it is important to remember that six hospitals contribute to the outstanding care received by children in Spokane.


Both Sacred Heart Medical Center and Deaconess Medical Center continue to provide pediatric emergency and critical care, general pediatric care and pediatric specialty services. Shriners Hospital is world-renowned for its pediatric orthopedic services. Valley Hospital and Medical Center and Holy Family Hospital serve their communities with excellent care of infants and children. Children with disabilities from throughout the region are helped each day at St. Luke's Rehab Institute. Together, each of our hospitals makes us strong in meeting our community mission of caring for the health of our greatest resource, our children.





Cathy Estremera


Spokane, Wash.





East Coast Admirer


I'm writing in response to Angela Johnson's letter, "Where are the jobs?" I had the wonderful opportunity to live in Spokane from 1996-98, and I quickly fell in love with the beautiful scenery and welcoming environment of the area.


Being from the East Coast, I decided to move back home in order to attend college and be near my family. Four years later, I am preparing to graduate from college and searching for graduate school. I decided to begin my search in Spokane since I am quite fond of the area. I set up the appropriate interviews and traveled to Spokane this summer. As I began my talks with some of the locals and professors, I learned of the bleak chance for employment due to the lack of jobs, perhaps a result of the mass production of college graduates from the three colleges in the area. If I wanted to work for minimum wage, I would have no problem obtaining employment, but it would be virtually impossible to work in my area of study.


Spokane is a wonderful place, and I plan on continuing my future summer vacations there. I am sad to say, however, that as a result of the bleak economy, I will not be attending my graduate school of choice due to the lack of well-paying jobs in Spokane. Please know there is somebody on the East Coast who admires Spokane.





Wendy Creekmore


Virginia Beach, Va.





Nice Work


Woo-hoo! Four stars. A-plus! Now, that's great ATTITUDE! In regards to your first Philanthropy Issue: Leave it to The Inlander to publish a shining composite of what the people of Spokane can truly be about.


As a born-and-raised Spokanite who has recently chosen to make Spokane my home, I support the notion that the immediate priority of any great city must always be the well-being of its people. As is the current plight of Spokane, when a city's business and political interests overshadow the daily celebration of people helping people, a city suffers. The Pacific Northwest Inlander is an astounding example of how genuinely caring media efforts can showcase a community's greater cause.


It is my hope that like efforts may raise the voices of our city's populace to overtake the much publicized (and capitalized upon) adolescent behaviors of our political and business leaders. From experience, we know that the obdurate conflicts of this city are NOT what the people of Spokane are truly about.


I have always viewed The Inlander as a balanced voice of reason and unbiased reporting in our community. In this regard, I also want to express agreement with the reporting of Dan Richardson in your Aug. 1 edition. His article on the media opportunities of the newly incorporated Spokane Valley referenced correctly the current state of Spokane's own media affairs. It is to The Inlander's great credit that publishers of Spokane's other two major newspapers choose to battle business and political agendas via their pages.


I have never known The Inlander to tout its own praises. When I read Editor and Publisher Ted S. McGregor's quote in which he stated that The Inlander aims to have no agenda of its own, I wanted to be one voice in the crowd that rises in ovation to your endeavors to meet this end. It's not an easy mandate. You succeed with excellence. You are a shining beacon for the improvement of our community's image.


Thanks for the inspiration.





Riff Mattre


Spokane, Wash.

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