Need for Speed & r & I am writing in response to the editorial "Near Freeway, Near Perfect" (4/27/06). I live on the lower South Hill, and it takes me 40 minutes to get to the North Division Y -- on a good day! Let's face it -- there is a lot of congestion on Division and other north-south roads. If a freeway is such a bad idea, maybe Chase Davis can provide a better alternative. This alternative should actually get commuters from the north to the south and vice versa, unlike those he provided in his commentary.
Leo Heyenrath & r & Spokane, Wash.
Whose Markets? & r & I support farmers' markets. Hell, they're the way I have made my living for most of my life. I find it disturbing that one market in Spokane, which is located on Second and Division, seems to control everything that goes on in regard to a location for a market that would serve Spokane. I drove over from Moses Lake to sell my peaches, only to be told their was no "room." However, my neighbor who brought corn was allowed a space. We found out from another produce vendor that the main peach vendor would not allow another peach grower to sell. This to me says that this market is run by whoever makes the most money and not the farmers as a collective.
From reading your newspaper online ("Growing Market Share," 4/20/06) I read that this market is looking for a location to move into on a permanent basis. So does this mean the Spokane Farmers' Market will be the only ones running this new market? Will other vendors be allowed in, or only those vendors who do not affect the bottom line of the bigger farmers? It seems as though a group of dictators from Spokane Farmers' Market is in charge of everything.
In my opinion, the market managers as a collective should run the market. Spokane would support such a market, but not as one small group making all the decisions based on their bottom line. The market serves the community and not just the farmer. Personally I feel honored to be allowed to grow my produce and offer peaches to the consumer.
My letter is based on my observations. I was welcomed warmly by a Sunday market which is located on the North Side. I asked about the other market and was told that she had no input as to who is accepted there and who isn't.
My frustration runs rampant, and I'm not the only one who's frustrated. I realize that I'm opening a can of worms, but it's a can that needs to be opened if Spokane is to have a market that people will drive to and shop at.
As for myself, this week I am off to Oregon to offer my goods until market season starts here. Perhaps this year will be better.
Frank Lindquist & r & Moses Lake, Wash.
An Organized History & r & Will hard work be rewarded in 21st century America? As unions shrink, so does the middle class. In the 1950s, one in three U.S. workers had union representation, and with that came a livable wage, quality health care and pensions to retire with dignity. Today, with only one in 12 private sector workers benefiting from union representation, we find countless Americans without affordable health care. Minimum wage has become the standard, and the middle class is fighting for survival.
Anti-union Wal-Mart -- instead of unionized General Motors -- is now the country's largest private employer. Good pay and affordable benefits, unfortunately, are not part of the Wal-Mart employment package. However, there is good news, as millions of new jobs that can't be moved overseas will be created over the next decade in service sectors such as retail, hospitality, transportation, construction, health care and many more. But without worker-minded union representation, there is little likelihood that these jobs will help workers achieve the American dream or support healthy communities.
It's not too late, however, to turn the tide. By improving working conditions for individual workers and families, unions can help build strong communities where workers can once again achieve the American dream. Studies show that areas with the highest percentage of union workers also have the lowest poverty rates, better schools and less crime. Unions not only represent the worker -- they also represent quality of life for America.
We forget that the benefits workers enjoy today -- the 40-hour work week, overtime pay, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, even lunch breaks -- were put in place by the unions and a partnership with Democratic America.
Today, corporate America and many political leaders are trying to scale back the gains that unions have won in the workplace. Workers fought long and hard for these benefits. It's a quality of life issue. Americans need to understand that whether you are union or not, all of the benefits that you receive in your particular work place were instituted by the brothers and sisters who fought in the '30s, '40s and '50s to give all future workers the right to fair labor practices.
American workers need to step up to the plate and protect the rights that were so hard won. Our future generations depend on our steadfast determination to hold true the right of fair pay, safe working conditions, affordable health care and job security. Once "Made in America" and "Proud to be Union" rang loudly in this country. We may not be able to bring back the manufacturing jobs that have been lost, but we can and must continue to build strong worker representation.
Richard Evans & r & Northwest Laborers union organizer & r & Spokane, Wash.
Kempthorne on Tribes & r & I kept asking myself, as I read over your recent article on the future of the Department of the Interior ("Idaho to Interior," 4/13/06) under presumed-Secretary Kempthorne: Where do Indians fit into this? In fact, the article doesn't even use the words "Indian" or "tribe." Not once.
Of course, endangered species, public lands and the like are extremely important topics. But I submit that actual, living human beings are pretty important, too. What has Kempthorne's record on Indian affairs been like as governor? What do Idaho's tribes think of the presumed elevation of this man to the job that has so much sway over the daily lives of Indians, both individually and collectively? How will he deal with the sprawling, scandalous mess that is Cobell v. Norton? (One day soon: Cobell v. Kempthorne?)
Your article should at least have asked these questions, even if only in passing. Do many of your readers care more about wilderness, open spaces, roadless areas, and endangered species than about actual humans? A horrible thought, but your editorial judgments about which issues not to raise certainly prompt the question.
Brian P. McClatchey & r & Spokane, Wash.