Letters to the Editor


Marmots' Rights

I am an attorney, and a past chairperson of the Washington State Bar Association's Animal Law Section. My comments are my own and do not represent the views of the Washington State Bar Association or the Animal Law Section.

In recent issue, you ran an article titled "Hoo! Hot! Marmot!" (7/12/07), in which you advised your readers how to hunt, kill, and eat marmots. First, let me point out that the locations you provided where marmots can be found and killed were within the Spokane city limits. The Spokane Municipal Code Section 10.11.050 prohibits the discharge of firearms within the city limits. The violation of this section is a gross misdemeanor.

Second, Hoary marmots and Olympic marmots are protected under Washington State law. The Revised Code of Washington, Section 77.15.130, makes it a misdemeanor to take (i.e. hunt, fish, possess, or maliciously kill) protected wildlife.

Third, killing unprotected species of wildlife requires the person doing so to have a valid hunting permit. A person hunting without a permit can be charged under Washington State law, at Section 77.15.430, which provides that unlawful hunting in the second degree is a misdemeanor.

Fourth, persons killing marmots may face charges of animal abuse under Washington State law. I urge anyone witnessing the killing of marmots within Spokane city limits to contact the Spokane Police Department. If a person witnesses the killing of marmots in an area outside the City of Spokane and there is reason to believe that the person does not have a valid hunting license, contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife at 892-1001.

I am incredibly disappointed by this article. What's next? A funny essay on how Michael Vick allegedly ran a dog fighting operation and how he allegedly executed the animals?

Cheryl Mitchell

Spokane, Wash.

Trash Talking

Just how goofy can city government get? Due to the new alley closures [in Corbin Park], the city must provide assistance to those of us who, for medically certified reasons, cannot move our own refuse containers from the alley to the street. This inconvenient and ugly change is being forced upon us by the mayor in the name of a cost reduction to be derived from increased efficiency.

Let me tell you about that efficiency, and then you can decide for yourself about the cost reduction. A garbage truck comes down the street in front of my house and a man jumps out, runs to the back of the house, and brings the refuse container to the street where it is emptied. The same man then runs back to return the container. Later, the recycling truck repeats this process. Fortunately, I do not have a "green" container, or the process would have to be repeated three times. If one of these containers is overlooked -- and this happens often -- we notify the city whereupon another driver is dispatched to collect it. Efficient? Cost Saving? Goofy? What do you think?

Ed and Sally Reid

Spokane, Wash.

Unsafe Laws

Washington's felony DUI law became effective July 1, permitting someone's fifth DUI to be charged as a felony and mandating actual prison time. Are you and your children any safer? No.

I was one of the initial proponents of the effort to establish a law in Washington back in 2000 that would mirror the law Idaho has -- to target the repeat drunk drivers and force them to serve prison time, not just the routine jail they are used to getting. After being slow to promote the bill, Rep. John Ahern (R-6th District) should have confronted the Democratic leadership when they told him the bill would go nowhere if he did not "lessen its impact" by requiring four prior convictions for DUI before someone could be charged with a felony crime the fifth time.

The original bill proposed was similar to Idaho's (i.e., the third DUI could be charged as a felony). Why would anyone want to let a habitual DUI offender continue to be a threat to the public by racking up at least four documented convictions? That's insane. The Democratic leaders -- Sen. Lisa Brown and House Speaker Frank Chopp -- only allowed the bill to be voted on in 2006 until its sponsor (Ahern) weakened it, then agreed to delay its implementation to 2007 to "save money"! Public safety was totally ignored. Next, in the recent 2007 legislative session, the DUI law was not made tougher, by dropping the number of prior DUI convictions to just two, like Idaho. Why? No money for locking up these dangerous people, we're told.

Habitual DUI offenders won't change their lifestyle, driving almost 80 times a year while impaired, according to federal (NHTSA) statistics. They are the biggest single threat to motorists and pedestrians. Still, Gov. Christine Gregoire signed the bill into law with much fanfare. Many prosecutors (especially Steve Tucker in Spokane County) won't take the time to document four prior convictions and will routinely plea bargain for another misdemeanor.

What is the cost of a child killed by a drunk? These disingenuous politicians need to be voted out and replaced with good public servants who actually care about preventing the killing of men, women and children on Washington's highways.

Jim Reierson

Spokane, Wash.

Mumbo Jumbo

Thanks for the fun and informing article about our heavyweight mayoral candidates ("Strong Mayor," 7/26/07). Unfortunately, last week was the same old, same old from Robert Herold ("Show of Strength," 8/2/07), who never leaves the safe zone of "bash the mayor." His piece on the mayoral election leaves the reader with a confusion of pseudo-intellectual mumbo jumbo. Should we endorse a candidate who has a simple solution to give the police whatever they want because that is strong and decisive (reminds me of future ex-president Bush who sticks to his story, despite facts to the contrary), or, do we want a mayor like Dennis Hession who Herold dismisses as "thoughtful, understated and thorough"?

My view from West Central is that we have a problem where police accountability is the issue. Too many mistakes by the police are undermining their effectiveness, and the shadowy Police Guild seems to defy attempts at accountability. Sorry, Robert, I WANT our mayor to be thoughtful and question increases in police budgets, I WANT accountability from our civil servants and I WANT someone who thinks before jumping.

Mike Petersen

Spokane, Wash.

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