by Inlander Readers

Thanks to Candidates -- I want to thank and acknowledge the many community resources and media that have made a concerted effort to host candidate forums, interviews and articles about the 2002 candidates. This goes a long way toward educating voters, partially abating their apathy and supporting campaign finance reform. The Inlander has published some very well-balanced interviews that drew my respect.

I would also like to thank all the candidates who have the courage to stand up and take a shot at public service. By now you know the process of running for office is not all it's cracked up to be.

It takes a tremendous toll upon marriages and families in terms of the long hours away from home. It can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining. It can be financially daunting in terms of the cost of running a campaign effectively. There are no harder tasks than cold-calling potential donors to give money to you -- a total stranger -- or negotiating among PACs who want a piece of you in return for their endorsement and money. And don't forget to keep your integrity and eye on the issues that made you want to run in the first place. Some days, it can feel like pieces of your soul are up for bid.

If you have a job to take care of, it can suffer. If you have to quit a job to run, your pocketbook suffers. There are few bosses who will allow months off to be in Olympia. It is a fallacy that our part-time legislators are really part-time, because the business of representation is full time. It is a truth that only the rich, retired, and well connected (or the incumbents) can easily run for office.

My hat is off to the "newbies" -- all those first-timers, with real jobs, with businesses, those who quit jobs, who took on the incumbents, who braved Goliaths with their treasure chest, who believed in the system, who cared about change, those whose commitment to the issues was the impetus that took them into the arena of politics. I sense it wasn't power, influence or politics as usual. I can only hope they will keep the faith over time.

And thank you to the women who are taking on the good old boys club! It's fun to watch strong, capable, educated, experienced women who have been successful out in the real world of commerce, education and social work now bringing that wealth of talent, leadership and multi-tasking skills to bear on the world of government. You have my very excited vote!

Valerie R. Smith

Spokane, Wash.

Why Endorse? -- Why don't you stick to what you do right: telling Spokane where to eat and what entertainment is going on this week. How can anyone take you seriously on politics with a picture of Tom Petty on the cover? Of the people who read your weekly paper, 75 percent don't vote and the rest want your opinion on restaurants, not one-sided political opinions. If you want to be journalists, don't endorse any candidates, just report without comment.

I stopped taking The Spokesman-Re#@@!@ because of their opinions. Be journalists and let the voter decide based on your unbiased reporting. Give us more local news versus The Inlander's opinion. The other alternative is to just tell me what movie is opening this week.

John Magnuson, Jr.

Spokane, Wash.

Ignore Coeur d'Alene -- I have been watching the development of a federal mandate based on a combined Spokane/Kootenai County economic trade zone with some interest. Since I, too, am of the region that potentially would be affected, may I add my two cents' worth?

In the past, many business leaders within the Inland Northwest have treated the Spokane and Kootenai County corridor as their private fiefdoms. As of late, we have heard that some private interests with considerable pull with the Coeur d'Alene City Council are not pleased with this regional idea, presumably because they prefer their monetary rewards provided by tourism and views of Coeur d'Alene Lake, as opposed to joining efforts based on regional growth.

Combining the corridor area could serve to revitalize the areas affected as well as the region. So to the cities of Spokane, Spokane Valley and Post Falls: If the City of Coeur d'Alene doesn't want to participate, let it pursue its own business growth, since you don't need it for support.

What is needed, however, are jobs and progressive industrial growth. Based on the numbers of potential workers who may have quit looking for work or are working in jobs that don't fully utilize their skills, the supposed unemployment rate of 7 percent in the Inland Northwest is probably considerably higher. So please continue in your endeavors to unify the area, as others are going to be affected and doubtlessly are watching what you do.

Michael J. Luzzo

Grand Coulee, Wash.

Wrong About March of Dimes -- For more than 64 years, the March of Dimes has continued to fund lifesaving breakthroughs that have saved millions of babies from polio, birth defects and infant death. No other health organization has a track record of success comparable to the March of Dimes.

I was dismayed to read Robert Herold's October 3-9 editorial ("The March of Dimes and Terror"). Unfortunately, he failed to do his homework. But even worse, he stretched and twisted words in order to make ridiculous connections between the March of Dimes and the war on terrorism.

Herold certainly has the right to exercise freedom of speech, but how far can he go before he loses credibility? Is it too far to assault the March of Dimes in military garb? Or can he get away with claims that the President of the United States views America, the war on terrorism and the March of Dimes in the same absurd context?

I know how the President views the March of Dimes. Last fall, he spoke to our top leadership, saying that, "Your resolve in combating disease has changed the world in which we live." He recognized the March of Dimes for making a difference in the lives of America's mothers, fathers and babies.

There was a time in our country when the polio epidemic was a frightening and deadly disease. Eliminating polio seemed like an impossible feat. But the March of Dimes did it. Herold unwisely wrote that the "March of Dimes will not, cannot find a cure for all birth defects." It's a good thing that FDR and not Herold led the March of Dimes.

So far, we've done a pretty good job of conquering many birth defects. With gene mapping, gene therapies and many other innovative breakthroughs, we will find the treatments or preventive measures for the other birth defects, too. And when that happens, I hope someone will count the generations of Herolds who will have been touched by the March of Dimes.

Elaine Noonan

State Director

March of Dimes in Washington

Editor's Note: In case you don't recall the contents of the column in question, here is the excerpt in question:

"The president calls it 'The War on Terrorism,' and by doing so, he gives every indication that he views America as the world's largest version of the March of Dimes. This nonprofit group, established to fight polio, was marching along nicely when along came the Salk vaccine and -- bingo! -- the march could end. But it didn't. Instead, this fine organization created a new mission, settling on birth defects. They will not, cannot find a cure for all birth defects. They can make some progress here and there, but it's a mission with no end in sight."

West is All Wrong -- Am I the only resident of this area who remembers Jim West threatening to kill someone who opposed his views not all that long ago? What a short political memory Americans have. Are you sure a guy who 1) is so short of self-control that he does this, and 2) is foolish enough to leave it on someone's voice-mail is someone we want as an elected official?

Richard Palmer

Spokane, Wash.

Mauger is Anti-American -- First let me say that I believe sanctions against Iraq are not effective and should be eliminated or revised.

That said, I find Nathan Mauger's article, "Nine Days in Iraq," which ran in the Oct. 17 edition of The Inlander, very upsetting, extremely myopic and anti-American.

Apparently, the author is not only incapable of viewing the situation in Iraq from more than one perspective, but that perspective is one that lays blame for every wrong or atrocity in Iraq squarely on the United States and Britain, with no attempt to examine other possibilities or investigate alternative solutions to the difficulties experienced by the Iraqi people.

I understand that this piece was written under the guise of "advocacy journalism," but let's be honest, this was pure propaganda trying to lay a tremendous guilt trip on the people of this country.

After reading Mauger's story, one is left with the feeling that every shortage or problem in hospitals, schools or anywhere else in Iraq cannot be relieved by the country producing its own needed supplies. Apparently there are no natural resources, no creative alternatives, no other Arab nations that will help them. The people dump sewage in the rivers because -- in the thousands of square miles of arid desert -- there isn't any better place to put it? But there's time and money for Mauger to enjoy the festivities of a music festival and fine dining at the home of a "wealthy Iraqi art gallery owner."

Mauger, while never pausing in his own attack on the conscience of Americans, our leaders and our military men and women, doesn't even consider that the leader of the Iraqi people has committed atrocities that make Hitler look like an amateur. He seems blinded to the fact that the people of Iraq seem either incapable of removing Saddam Hussein, or they actually support him. Sadly, everything Mauger is told on his visit there, as long as it points a guilty finger at the U.S., is accepted by him as undeniable fact. He challenges nothing he hears, because he's not able to hear anything to challenge.

It's a true blessing that we live in a country where people like Mauger and his group can break U.S. laws, boast about it to our enemies and flaunt those criminal acts in a weekly publication, isn't it? Jane Fonda would love you guys.

David Bray

Spokane, Wash.

"Nine Days" was Brave -- A copy of your October 17-23 edition has found its way to me. I want to thank you for printing the article on Iraq by Nathan Mauger. Maybe it took courage, but it provides an invaluable perspective about life among real Iraqis that might well help our collective conversation about armed conflict/regime change/occupation/embargo and all the rest. I do not have an answer; I have many questions and major concerns. Thanks for this view.

Thanks as well for Robert Herold's commentary, "The Case for Split Government," which made a good case for electing Democrats despite our ineptitude in the face of established wealth and power.

Dennis Alger

Portland, Ore.

Bush's Diversion -- Washington, D.C. (that is Mr. Bush) has been waging a war of words trying to convince the nation that both Iraq and Afghanistan are waging a war with the U.S.A.

Actually, they are really substantiating Bill Moyers' recent article that Reagan, Bush and now Bush Jr. are working on a policy begun by Reagan -- one that focuses the general public's attention on a small Middle East country in order to divert the public's attention from our nation's capitol.

The administration, very quietly, has reduced Clinton's budget surplus to another GOP huge deficit and upcoming depression.

My daughter is in her fifth year as a schoolteacher in the Middle East (in Beirut, Turkey and now on the island of Bahrain in the Gulf of Arabia). She says those nations actually like Americans but detest Bush for the actions by our C.I.A. ever since Bush Sr. was the C.I.A. director -- actions never published in our media but in the direct interests of our nation's oil industry.

I guess if you summed up the feelings of Iraqis and the Afghans, they would be that they refer to the head of Iraq as "Sad dam" and to the head of the U.S.A. as "Dam sad."

Andy Kelly

Spokane, Wash.

Norman Rockwell's America @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 12
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