by Inlander Readers

Honesty Needed -- Bob Herold, good article on River Park Square and the HUD loans ("Not Getting What You Wish For," 12/19/02). I stood before the City Council concerning the parking garage and River Park Square and testified warning them about the numbers, risk and lack of thorough evaluation. As usual, their eyes glazed over. These puppets disguised as City Council persons would have voted yes under any circumstances because of their special interests and paying back those who provided campaign contributions and promises of more funds.

The Science Center is worse. It will lose $1.5-$2 million a year and the Cowles bandwagon is humming along behind it. If this project goes through, it will cripple other viable project funding like the Fox.

First the Park Board said it would lose $300K per year, now $600K, and that's not even close to the real red ink. Bob, thanks again. Honesty and business ethics seem to evaporate when the taxpayers' money is involved.

E. M. Swanstrom

Spokane, Wash.

Open Letter to McCaslin -- Your recent decision not to amortize billboards in Spokane County comes as a big disappointment. Billboards are not good for our economy, they degrade our quality of life and the people want them phased out. In spite of these facts, you decide they should stay.

Why call for an advisory vote and then disregard the results? You knew the billboard industry would sue. Your call for an advisory vote was blatantly disingenuous. What a great way to instill voter apathy and distrust of government.

What's worse, in your decision not to amortize billboards, you have given into threat and intimidation by the billboard industry, further opening the door to similar abuses in the future

I am especially disgusted with your decision because my associates and I worked many hours with Citizens for a Scenic Spokane, campaigning for Proposition Two. In spite of our having no money and very little media exposure, we won. In spite of huge amounts of advertising dollars spent by the billboard industry and a lawsuit aimed at stopping the advisory vote, we won. In spite of the poorly worded advisory ballot question, we won. The voters overwhelmingly (57 percent) supported getting rid of the billboards! We won -- or so we thought.

You stole our victory by claiming that it was too costly to defend another lawsuit, and that Spokane County would be better off keeping the billboards to save taxpayer money. Again, this was disingenuous in light of the County's legal defense of the advisory vote. Moreover, cost ought not to be the only criterion used in making a decision that affects the public interest. This is a prime example of a politician knowing the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.

Countless communities in the United States have successfully won the right to amortize billboards out of existence. Spokane County's chances of winning a legal challenge were extremely high. Nationally, this would have been an important legal decision, with far-reaching consequences. It would have been money extremely well spent. Another sad result of all this, Commissioner McCaslin, is that you missed a valuable opportunity to do the right thing and help other communities in the U.S. put the billboard lobby in its proper place.

Finally, I find it particularly appalling the way you used Spokane Valley City as a scapegoat, demanding that they help pay the legal costs to defend against the billboard industry. Surely you understand how unprepared they are to grapple with this complex issue. In addition, many of the newly elected Councilmen and women received substantial campaign contributions from Lamar Advertising.

In the past several years, I've admired your objectivity and ability to discern the facts before deciding issues that affect the public. But this time you dropped the ball. Your decision not to amortize the billboards shows insensitivity to citizen opinion, disregard for the appearance of our community and an arbitrariness that is uncharacteristic of you.

Deidre Allen

Spokane, Wash.

More Balance Please -- Your Dec. 26 article, "Water Warriors," by Jane Fritz, had the potential to present a balanced view of a contentious issue, but was greatly diminished by a lack of background research and an excess of unsubstantiated claims.

The article contained several early errors, one of which was the claim that Bill Martin was a forester. A temporary job as a tree planter does not by any means qualify one to the title of "forester." Forestry is a skilled occupation, requiring years of supervised professional experience and often a four-year degree in forestry.

Also, in the same paragraph, a comment was made about plants along a stream being used to indicate recent disturbance events. One certainly wouldn't need to be a forester to identify the plants or the recent disturbance events.

Although if one were a geomorphologist or hydrologist, he or she would probably have a better handle on how much of this disturbance was actually due to natural stream behavior. One of the common fallacies plaguing the environmental movement today is the apparent belief that natural ecosystems would stay the same forever if humans weren't around.

This is not to say that the disturbances in this particular stream weren't connected to human activities such as ASARCO's mining or Martin's streamside home-building, but there was certainly no evidence making this link in the article. For that matter, no real evidence was offered anywhere in the article regarding stream quality.

Ironically, the very next section of the article states that Martin is currently a stonemason, which likely requires the quarrying of the rocks he uses in his work -- also known as mining. This quartzite rock is correctly known as the Revett formation and is quite common to the Inland Northwest -- any regional geology text would have provided this information.

Unfortunately the article then went on to offer several paragraphs of hearsay and rumor, much of it from persons who, like Martin, wish to have their own streamside havens and then complain about other people's use of what they have come to regard as their personal resources.

In the future I would like to see at least some attempt to provide a researched, balanced view of such issues -- these sorts of error-ridden diatribes simply misinform the public and muddy the issues which the environmental community is trying so hard to resolve together with public and private resource managers.

Mariann Johnston

Potlatch, Idaho

Crosswalks Going Away? -- In a Q & amp; N feature in late November, you mentioned vigilant reader Louis Sims who noted the lack of paint on the city streets, especially the crosswalks. It might interest Sims, other readers and The Inlander that the City of Spokane traffic engineers are planning to remove or not repaint 800 of the city's 1,200 crosswalks -- this on the reasoning that most pedestrian/auto collisions occur in painted crosswalks, and apparently on the assumption that the pedestrian has a false sense of security when the crosswalk is actually painted.

Something that the engineers seemed to have overlooked is the notion that most pedestrians cross where they are legally required; the crosswalk. Statistically speaking, that is where most of the collisions will occur. The city should not remove crosswalks, but rather enhance them.

In addition to well-marked pedestrian crossing, a universal signal that the pedestrian intends to cross and increased driver awareness that they must stop when a crosswalk is occupied will increase pedestrian safety.

Traffic engineers seem to not realize that "traffic" is all forms of transportation, not just cars. Though their primary focus should be the car, they often overlook pedestrians and bicycles in favor of the almighty auto. Keeping the crosswalks painted will reduce the city's liability in such collisions, thereby keeping the staff of risk management happy.

Tomas Kelley Lynch

Chair, Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board

Spokane, Wash.

Editor's Note: A spokesperson for the street department says that the city has at least 1,740 cross walks -- 480 of which are classified as inactive and not being repainted -- but no plans to remove 800 crosswalks. As for repainting the crosswalks as they wear off because of traffic and de-icer, crosswalks at signals and all school crosswalks are the first to be repainted, followed by mid-block crosswalks. Not all crosswalks are repainted every year -- even if they need it -- because the department simply doesn't have time and staff to get to every crosswalk every year.

Get the Facts Straight -- This is in regard to the letter, "NIMBY is Accurate," written by Wayne Nelson, Chairman of the West Central Neighborhood Council, in the Dec. 19 edition of The Inlander. This letter implies that Nelson is making an official statement on behalf of the West Central Neighborhood Council in opposition to the proposed expansion of childcare at the West Central Community Center. This letter was neither presented to nor approved by the Neighborhood Council.

Nelson makes a number of serious misrepresentations. He alleges that the proposed Head Start childcare facility will operate 24 hours a day. Full day, yearlong childcare, with the possibility of providing extended services into the evening is NOT 24-hour childcare. This is a goal for Head Start if there is market demand. If it were to occur, the facility would not operate outside the hours of any of the other normal services or programs provided by the West Central Community Center.

In his letter, Nelson also states that community center staff hold differing opinions over the wording of a funding document, contending that this funding could be used for another location in the neighborhood. Again, this is a misstatement. Leonard Hendricks, the consultant for this project and person Nelson attributed this statement to, has been very specific about the purpose and use of these HUD funds. The grant is site-specific AND activity-specific. The "site" is the West Central Community Center. The "activity" is extended childcare.

Nelson's preference is for a day care center in the West Broadway Neighborhood Center. He even questions the need at the West Central site based on the fact that St. Anne's Children's Home, already located in the Broadway Center, is expanding to 200 low-income slots. Again, this was an error in fact. A new facility will be built near Sacred Heart Medical Center not on West Broadway. This loss makes the expansion of childcare at the West Central site even more critical for the community.

These kinds of public misrepresentations are a disservice to the community.

Andy Rathbun -- Co-President West Broadway Center Planning Project; Board Member West Central Community Center; Liaison to West Central Neighborhood Council

Spokane, Wash.

Council Supports WCCC -- Wayne Nelson's letter in the Dec. 19 edition of The Inlander spoke for a handful of people on the West Central Neighborhood Council, but not for all of us. There are many people on the council who support the expansion of the West Central Community Center (WCCC) daycare. Where better to locate a daycare than next to a park?

Most of us in West Central favor the expansion. There has been no duplicity on the part of Don Higgins. There has been talk of expanding the center for years. Why build another facility? This would only delay the addition of these much-needed daycare slots to the West Central Community.

Cathy McGinty

VOICES, Program Coordinator; West Central Neighborhood Council Member Spokane, Wash.

Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Feb. 13
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