Higgins Kept Secrets -- This is in response to the story "Daycare Dilemma," by Pia K. Hansen, that ran in the Dec. 12 edition of The Inlander.
On August 19, 2002, a legal notice appeared in the newspaper in the form of a Request for Release of Funds to the West Central Community Center (WCCC) in the amount of $1 million for property acquisition for the expansion project. After numerous phone calls to the City of Spokane Community Development Office, Seattle and Washington D.C. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offices, I found virtually no available information on the proposed WCCC expansion project.
I spoke with various residents and members of the West Central Neighborhood Council, and they were unaware that the expansion would be larger than the $35,000 the Neighborhood Council already donated to the center.
After learning that the Emerson-Garfield Neighborhood Council also donated $35,000 to the expansion, I spoke with members of that council. Their lack of information paralleled ours. Therefore, any contention that the allocations indicate support for a project of this scale is inaccurate.
This is, in fact, a $4 million project that will require the demolition of housing on adjacent blocks, vacation of streets or loss of Park Department property. At the Neighborhood Council's request, the WCCC presented the true scale of the project in September. There was obvious concern, if no alarm, that the project had progressed this far without neighborhood involvement, since the West Central Neighborhood Council has a long history of giving financial and volunteer support to the center. The community center's board of directors -- which includes a president who lives in Colbert, the Mayor's wife and Judge Rick White among other non-West Central residents -- had reportedly been working on this for three years without mentioning it.
Following the council meeting, the WCCC began scheduling its own "community" meetings, comprised primarily of people from outside the neighborhood, invited by the center, it looked like another One Spokane Summit.
Center director Don Higgins' assertion that he has surveyed the neighborhood is also inaccurate. A center board member informed me that the survey had been conducted mostly among individuals who used the center's services. A more thorough needs assessment that includes the "entire service area" of the WCCC needs to be conducted.
Location is one of the biggest questions from the neighborhood. The notion that the HUD grant is site-specific is not entirely true. The center's grant writer stated that the grant was not site-specific, just activity-specific. Maria Cantwell's office and the Spokane Community Development Office also assert that the funds are not site-specific.
One of the ongoing problems in discussing this project has been the lack of documentation. The Neighborhood Council has yet to see any written description or business plan. The scope and mission of the expansion shifts from presentation to presentation, making it impossible to find firm common ground on which to build.
George P. Craig II
Thanks for Helping Out
I want to express my appreciation for your including Anchor House in the gift guide that ran in the Dec. 12 edition of The Inlander. The information was quite lengthy, given the limited space, and also accurate.
Though it's difficult to tell whether the article will lead to an increase in donations for us this season, I have had at least one person donate building materials as a result, and several others say they had seen the article.
We are now making considerable efforts to extend our services to families in need of residential services who have no resources to contribute, so we especially need community help. The article was timely -- again, thank you.
Paula K. Neils
Northern Area Manager,
Idaho Youth Ranch and Anchor House
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Not a Real Deal -- The Real Deal story in the Dec. 12 edition of The Inlander was about energy saving and fluorescent bulbs. The story suggested that using fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent is a real saving, but the public has not been given the whole story.
A 100-watt incandescent bulb radiates close to 300 BTU of heat, based upon the fact that one kilowatt radiates 3,413 BTU. About 90 percent of the energy used by a filament bulb turns into heat. That heat is added to the heat source you are using. If it's oil, gas or electric, that means the thermostat turns off earlier.
If you doubt this, just try to unscrew a 100 watt bulb after it has been turned on for a few minutes without using gloves. However, the use of fluorescent bulbs when you don't need any heat will result in savings of electricity.
I have purchased, or received for free, 10 spiral fluorescent bulbs in the last 18 months. Five of those failed and three had their ballast heated up to a point where they were too hot to handle. But all of them said they'd last for seven years.
How many users of these spiral lamps have had failures, and just like myself, thrown away the warranty?
Up to now, I did not get a real deal.
Vincent L. Hoffart
Security by Soviet Design -- According to a host of new laws drafted in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, those deemed suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens, can now be held incommunicado and subsequently tried without constitutional protections.
I find this patently Soviet and flawed to the core. Citing his own arbitrary and obtuse definition of "terrorism," Joseph Stalin imprisoned nearly 20 million under draconian pseudo-law, the text of which was really nothing more than a dragnet.
How a U.S citizen is or will be deemed a "terrorist" in a future context could eventually designate anyone who protests American foreign or domestic policy. Let's face it, with 177,000 federal employees operating under the auspices of Homeland Security, the apparatchiks are going to have to find something to do.
Before we capitulate to the secret machinations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the government need delineate in exact detail what constitutes a terrorist in a current and "future" context. So far, the government hasn't. Furthermore, history records that the establishment of secret tribunals and suspension of habeas corpus serve as a precursor to wholesale fascism and government by thugs.
Support Teachers' Action -- On November 18, the members of the Central Valley Education Association voted to join more than 120 other districts across the state in the Jan. 14 "Day of Action." The Washington Education Association (WEA) has organized rallies to be held on that day in Olympia, Spokane and the Tri-Cities to lobby the state legislature regarding potential cuts in K-12 funding. These cuts could have a devastating impact on school district budgets across the state.
Let's look at some facts: Central Valley School District received $2.3 million this year from initiative 728 funds; that amount will double over the next two years. This money pays for more than 30 additional teachers and 15 classroom aides. These professionals work with students in small groups and help to reduce class sizes in the district. If this money is lost these positions will be lost, or the district will have to look at cuts in in textbook additions, gifted programs, extended day programs, food services, transportation, extracurricular programs, or cutbacks in reading specialists, counselors or nurses.
The loss of these positions or programs would hurt students most in need. At-risk students, children in after-school programs and those struggling in reading or math would be hurt.
Facing such drastic cuts, our teachers have decided to take a risk and take a stand for their students.
Central Valley Education Association
Bye, Bye Lott -- For years I've noted the spreading racist roots of the current Republican Party. It's no empty observation that as Democrats pushed for civil rights and economic equality for racial minorities, southern Democrats fled that party to become Republicans, "by droves" a Republican leader recently crowed. One would hope my conclusions are too harsh, but Trent Lott proved all fears true when he praised his and Republican (once Democrat) Strom Thurmond's racist past.
One can't help but note that Idaho -- the most Republican state -- is a favorite destination for racists like Richard Butler. Nor is it an accident that the southern half of Idaho is in Mormon hands, a conservative religion from thoroughly Republican Utah, which until recently denied leadership positions in their church to black people.
What about Republican Charlton Heston's claim that the high American murder rates are the result of America's "ethnicity"? (He says so in the movie, Bowling For Columbine).
No accident either that southern religious fundamentalists, some of whom still justify slavery with Scripture, are at the heart of current Republican Party politics. Most heinous, the Republican viciousness dumped on poor boy, white trash, from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks Bill Clinton whose obvious respect for average, hard working African-Americans earned him the hatred of Republican southern patricians, descendants of good ol' boy plantation slaveholders.
Only the removal of Mississippi racist Trent Lott from his leadership position in the Republican Congress demonstrated that the GOP was mustering sufficient outrage.
Thanks, Murray -- My family thanks Senator Patty Murray from the bottom of our hearts for the courage she showed in both her vote against the anti-constitutional, anti-democratic war resolution, and for stating last week at a Vancouver high school her obvious understanding that had we behaved differently in the world, the "terrorism" picture might be dramatically different.
Revolutionary movements rarely succeed if they don't address the everyday needs of the people for whom they are struggling, and that goes, too, for foreign governments and ideologies attempting to influence a society. How is it we as a nation can't seem to understand that? Addressing people's everyday needs, particularly in destitute societies, is the only way America will build support, and not doing so will surely cause resentment and hatred, manifest as we see today in the attacks against American and other Western targets.
Perhaps we should not be surprised that most Americans and our "leaders" don't understand that. For history is not our strong suit, is it? Nor is analysis -- we'd rather wave a flag and strut. That way we don't have to think any hard thoughts or make any changes in how we live or behave.
I am proud to live in a state where two of our legislators (Murray and Jim McDermott) have the courage to look beyond the bluster and say what they see and believe.
Farmers Let Off the Hook -- The regulations issued by the administration last week to limit the dumping of animal waste from factory farms into our lakes and streams represent too little, too late. They are a sweet deal for polluting cattle barons, but they literally stink for the rest of us.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges that agricultural runoff dumps more pollution in our lakes and streams than all other human activities combined. The runoff contains soil particles, animal manure, assorted debris, salts, pesticides, drugs and heavy metals that produce vast "dead zones" around the U.S. estuaries.
Yet the rule covers only 6 percent of the 238,000 factory farms, and none of the croplands' growing animal feed. The polluters have four years to come up with a plan, and then they can shop around for a money-hungry state to approve it. Alas, this is totally in tune with the rest of the Administration's bankrupt environmental policy.
Fortunately, every one of us has the power to stop subsidizing this environmental outrage three times a day, simply by saying no to polluting meat and dairy products.