by Inlander Readers

Innocent Mistakes -- It just can't be true! In preparation for testifying before the 9/11 Commission, Sandy Berger, former National Security Adviser and currently a consultant to John Kerry's campaign for president, stealthily removed from the National Archives classified material, which related to a national security briefing of President Clinton. This is something only Republicans do!

Some of that material has been "thrown away," according to Berger. His long record of outstanding public service obviates any real responsibility, according to leading Democrats who pooh-pooh any suggestion of a possible "cover-up" of something we should know. The timing of "leaking" this is, of course, politically motivated, just as the ongoing outcry about "missing" records regarding President George W. Bush is politically motivated.

After all, if a former NSA who most assuredly knows the rules and the reason for them blatantly ignores them as an "innocent mistake," what can we expect next? Is it just possible Bush's records are missing due to "innocent mistakes?" Well, maybe...

William H. Allison

Medical Lake, Wash.

No Compassion From West -- I greatly appreciated the even-handed articles by Cara Gardner ("Squatter's Rights," 7/8/04, and "Homeless Mess," 7/15/04), about the homeless camping issue. As a local environmental home designer, founding member of the Inland Chapter of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild and caring citizen of this community, I wrote a letter to our mayor before he chose to bring threat of police force down on the homeless encampment. Unfortunately, his first loyalties apparently lay more with the members of the Spokane Club than with those most in need, and his mind was already made up.

It was mentioned in Gardner's first article that in Portland, the [city] was influenced by people's 500 postcards objecting to the camping ban. I'd request that others here were less willing to cast stones than Mayor West, send him some postcards or letters, as well. Of course, how would we know if he'd already gotten a bundle? He didn't have the courtesy to send even a form reply to mine. If you elect to send such comments, perhaps it would be wise to forward a copy to The Inlander.

I don't believe the people of Spokane feel we should turn a discriminatory cold shoulder toward either politicians beset with life-threatening illnesses, nor those beset, for a wide range of reasons, with a "residentially challenged" condition.

I'm most disappointed in our current mayor's apparent lack of both empathy and imagination. May he never have to deal with this condition from the other side of the fence.

Don Stephens

Spokane, Wash.

I Scream, You Scream -- Ben Cohen's visit to Spokane went under-reported. Ben's "Pants on Fire" mobile came to town promoting the True Majority, which is a watchdog lobby in Washington, D.C. Some of the things you might find at the True Majority Web site are ways to ensure equal treatment under the law for all; champion the rights of every child, women, and man; reduce our dependence on oil; and lead the world to an age of renewable energy.

The really exciting part of Ben Cohen's visit to Spokane was not just some Ben and Jerry's ice cream, but seeing a new creation in American Democracy being born.

Ben and his partner (in business) Jerry crafted Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream. Then, over the years, they not only made a lot of money but forged a new level of corporate integrity. More than 10 percent of their corporate profits went into community programs -- a far cry from the bilkers of Enron and our own parking garage and waste-to-energy debacles.

Ben brings his considerable acumen to developing and promoting cyber democracy, something very sorely needed. I also feel that when a free press under-reports positive free speech efforts there is something funny, wrong, and/or rotten with the cheese in Denmark, let alone with democracy in America.

Betsy Woods

Spokane, Wash.

A Parent Speaks -- After reading "Kicked to the Curb," (7/29/04), about homeless teens, I was a little disappointed that there were no interviews with any of the parents of these children -- mainly because I am one of them.

My son is 14 years old and has run away multiple times in the past year. One of these times, a 22-year-old man drove my son to Seattle without my permission and dropped him off at a Fred Meyer to fend for himself. I couldn't prosecute him because he had my son's permission to go. I finally located my missing child a week later. In the eyes of the law this isn't kidnapping, although I am responsible for my son until he is of age - a slight glitch in the system.

His stepfather and I are not drug addicts or abusive and we provide a good home. My son comes and goes as he pleases, verbally abuses my husband and I and takes items from our home when we're not there. Every day is so scary, I don't know if he will be great or volatile. Our only retaliation is the "Youth at Risk Petition." It seems to only make him more angry and bitter. And there is therapy, of course - despite hundreds of dollars and no positive results so far.

No matter how much I want to just give up, I know I can't because I'm all he has. I am his mother, full of unconditional love. I never knew the true meaning of what that meant until this year. At this moment, I don't know where my child is: He has been missing for the longest 10 days of my life.

Stacie Ellis

Spokane, Wash.

Structure Needed -- Ours was a structured family. Pop worked long hours at mostly minimum wages while mom stayed home and raised five kids. There was no question that our parents were in charge and our job as kids was to obey and learn. We lived in a structured neighborhood. Everyone's mother stayed home and the mothers talked to each other. They also had an unwritten agreement that they would supervise and discipline each other's kids. We attended structured schools. We had dress codes, hair codes, strict attendance requirements, and the teacher's authority was absolute. Our only choice was to follow the rules or leave school. We lived in a structured community. The soda shop/pool hall was full almost every night with kids acting like kids. At 10 pm, the siren would sound and everyone under 17 had to be home. If underage kids were caught on the streets, the police would call the parents to come get the child.

As a young adult, I took a summer job (paid for by a federal grant) with a judge. Not knowing what else to do with me, he had me "research and analyze" the criminal files for our county of about 35,000 residents. It was the easiest job I ever had. I probably spent three days with the juvenile files. Juvenile crime barely existed; it consisted mostly of vandalism. The adult files, naturally, took a little longer. As kids, we were exposed to alcohol, divorce, poverty, sex, peer pressure and most of the other problems faced by today's youth. The difference is that society recognized that children could not safely deal with these things without lots of supervision.

It was this structured environment and the values and discipline it instilled in us, that prepared us to move successfully into an adult world that was much less regulated than it is today. Teenage homelessness is a horrible problem that cannot be solved until we recognize, as we did in the '50s, that without structure, kids are lost.

Jim Shamp

Cheney, Wash.

Publication date: 08/12/04

Vandal Summer Cinema Series

Fridays, Sat., Aug. 21 and Thu., Aug. 26. Continues through Aug. 20
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