Bring on the Art - As usual I appreciate The Inlander's consistent commitment to the visual arts. The multi-faceted examination of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) and its new curator was great ("Arts Advocate, 7/18/02). I especially appreciated reading the sidebar comments from various members of the art community here, on what they see as a needed direction for the MAC.
Adding to those comments, I'd like to echo those who articulated how necessary it is for the MAC to bring in art exhibitions (historical and contemporary) by artists from outside the region. A museum's role is always educational, and giving Spokane residents the opportunity to see internationally renowned work by artists such as Jim Hodges and the Kienholzes allows us residents a way to participate in the larger, international conversation on art. If, occasionally, local and regional artists' work fits into that "conversation" that is fine, but the museum's primary focus should not be one of regional boosterism for local artists alone.
For example, a few years ago, curator Brian Wallace at the Bellevue Museum showed work by Pipolotti Rist (an important video artist from Switzerland) and he also included a few works by lesser known regional artists such as Jeffrey Mitchell. In that way everyone benefited.
Best wishes to the MAC in this new stage of development, and, once again, thanks to The Inlander for keeping us informed on cultural issues.
Eugster is Right On - According to Bob Herold's editorial about the city council in last week's edition of The Inlander ("Council in Crisis"), he apparently wishes we could return to the days of yesteryear... back to when the council meetings began with a prayer and a group hug, then onward to several unanimous votes and absolutely no debate about the issues.
Herold contends that Mr. Higgins should be responsible for ensuring that "we get bills that can be acted upon." Just whom does he expect will introduce such legislation? Higgins? I don't recall him ever proposing any legislation to speak of. Roberta Greene? Don't make me laugh. Dennis Hession? The mayor? John Powers is only concerned with enhancing his image.
Herold wants someone to bring better legislation to the table? There is only one council member who consistently proposes any new bills for the council's consideration, and that is Steve Eugster. The majority of council members seem to be on a mission to vote for staff proposals and denigrate anything proposed by Eugster. That is about as far as they will go.
Most of them don't have the courage to put their butts on the line for fear they might offend those in the city's power structure.
We don't need to return to the good old days -- we need more people with the courage of Steve Eugster, Cherie Rodgers and Steve Corker. We need council members who have the courage to stand up for the people of this city and not roll over as some in this community seem to be doing. We don't need council members who are merely rubber-stamping the proposals of the staff and mayor. We need more independent voices to replace some of the drones that are allied with Higgins and Mayor Powers. Eugster, et al., are not the problem in this city; they are the solution. Unfortunately, they are one vote shy of a majority.
Another One Gets Away - They say you can't prove a negative. Think again. The Buck Knives Company will not build a plant in Washington State, and in all likelihood never will unless we fix the problems with our business climate.
Established in 1902, Buck Knives is one of America's premier knife makers. Now, after more than 50 years in San Diego, the company is looking to relocate. They looked at Washington State -- and passed. Why?
The B & amp;O Tax. Washington's Business and Occupation tax, is levied on gross income, regardless of whether you make a profit.
The minimum wage. Washington's minimum wage increases automatically every year, tied to Seattle's Consumer Price Index. It is the highest in the nation and getting higher.
The ergonomics rule. Washington's controversial ergonomics rule, criticized as vague and unscientific, is the only one of its kind in the nation. Experts estimate the rule will cost Washington employers more than $700 million to implement, with no guarantee it will prevent a single injury.
Jeopardized business tax incentives. Despite Washington's shaky business climate, politicians in Olympia are talking about repealing existing business tax incentives.
Our business climate does not exist in a vacuum. We compete with neighboring states that have less cumbersome regulations, no sales tax or B & amp;O tax, or a lower minimum wage. Buck Knives also is looking at Oregon and Idaho as the site of their new facility. Oregon has reportedly offered free land and three years of property tax abatement, as well as low-cost financing. Idaho has offered $600,000 in direct job training grants, $100,000 in general support and the construction of all necessary public utilities to support the new Buck Knives facility.
Company officials haven't decided where they're going to go, but they have decided where they will not go. They apparently will not come to Washington. We lost 80,000 jobs last year alone, and our unemployment rate exceeds the national average. Our regulatory and tax policies should be designed to attract new jobs, not discourage them.
Don C. Brunell
President of the Association
of Washington Business