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by THE INLANDER & r & & r & Citizens First & r & The appointed mayor literally ignores neighborhoods on matters such as streets, trees, alley garbage pickup, public safety -- until election season. When he initially announced the formation of a task force to determine the "vision" for the Community Development Block Grant program, he omitted anyone from the Community Assembly from his list, explaining that he and John Pilcher were better able to make decisions affecting neighborhoods than those who resided in them. An audible gasp went around the conference table at City Hall. On the other hand, Mary Verner embraces input from every stakeholder, rich and poor. She is a collaborator who brings people and differing points of view together.

The short-term mayor makes decisions like a king -- without collaborating with constituents, only his inner circle, then informs stakeholders afterward. One needs only look at his method for informing residents about canceling alley garbage pickup -- flyers on front porches in affected neighborhoods, causing much distress amongst many. He fired Michael Adolfae for the cited reason that the community development director did not share his "vision," yet at no time did Hession ever attend any Community Development Board meetings to share what his still-undisclosed "vision" was, nor did he make any suggestions or requests of the Board to alter its mission or to support or withdraw support from any particular agency and project.

If this man becomes the elected mayor, he will believe he has a mandate to continue ignoring the neighborhoods, ignoring the City Council, ignoring the Comp Plan and GMA, spending public monies on consultants and P.R. firms, making decisions without collaboration, changing the mission of the Community Development Block Grant program and treating City Hall as his own personal fiefdom.

Mary Verner will have none of that. Citizens are at the top of her organization chart.

John Downes

Spokane, Wash.

Relative Comfort

I was disappointed in your Comfort Food Dining Guide and your accompanying article, "Philosophies of Comfort" (10/11/07). How sad that we consider "greasy burgers," "lamb chops," "beef brochettes" and "pot roast" comfort food. Comfortable for who? Certainly not for the cows and lambs being slaughtered and certainly not for the wildlife whose habitat is being destroyed for grazing and for producing animal feed. For a diet more comfortable for the animals and more healthy for us, go vegetarian!

Christy Purrmann

Liberty Lake, Wash.

Liberals Are Pansies

I know there's hope for the liberal intelligentsia when Ted McGregor writes a column praising Ronald Reagan ("Reagan's Ghost," 10/18/07). But what McGregor fails to mention is that liberals in the 1980s hated Reagan with as much passion as they now hate George W. Bush, and for the same reason. Reagan dared to defy the international liberal elite (represented by the United Nations, France and U.S. Congressional Democrats) in order to confront aggressively a totalitarian threat.

The lesson to be learned from Reagan is not, as McGregor thinks, that dialogue and diplomacy are important, but that dialogue and diplomacy work with totalitarian regimes only when backed by military strength. It wasn't Reagan's charm that brought the Kremlin to its knees. It was the arsenal of modern nuclear weapons that he aimed at the Soviet Union. And it wasn't a friendly chat that convinced the Sandinistas to hold free elections in Nicaragua. It was the guns that Reagan gave the rebel Contras.

As McGregor points out, Reagan was shaped by the events of his youth. So he learned the lesson of Munich that Baby Boomer liberals never have, which is that we risk more by appeasing dictators than by confronting them. Reagan lived through the catastrophe caused by Chamberlain's capitulation and had sense enough not to repeat the mistake when he became president.

Chamberlain notwithstanding, the Anglo-American alliance in the last century has consistently confronted totalitarian threats. Wilson and Lloyd-George. Roosevelt and Churchill. Truman and Churchill. Reagan and Thatcher. Bush and Blair. The world is a better place because of these brave leaders, but at every step they have been obstructed and vilified by na & iuml;ve, left-wing idealists. So it's encouraging to see liberals finally recognizing Ronald Reagan's wisdom. Hopefully it won't take them 20 years to change their minds about George W. Bush.

Doug Hart

Spokane, Wash.

Don't Make It Easier

Funding of our state's K-12 educational system is sociologically, economically and racially discriminatory. The WASL -- a test without a curriculum, and a ticket to nowhere -- is just the latest proof of how unequal educational funding results in unequal results.

Students in affluent school districts have better educational opportunities and therefore better post-high school education and job opportunities than those in economically depressed districts. Rich kids get better opportunities than poor kids!

By reducing the 60 percent "yes" vote now required to approve school district taxes to 50 percent, House Joint Resolution 4204 enables voters to make this despicable practice easier to implement. This is wrong, very wrong!

Our constitution states: "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex." Funding education is not a district responsibility! It should not be discriminatory! All money needed to build, repair, upgrade and operate schools, is a state -- not a district -- responsibility.

Changing our constitution to increase social, economic and racial injustices is wrong, very, very wrong. Vote NO on 4204.

John Axtell

Spokane Valley, Wash.

Twenty Questions

Your "20 Questions" quiz for the two mayoral candidates was a real eye-opener ("Tale of Two Cities," 10/18/07). I was especially disturbed by the responses of both Dennis Hession and Mary Verner to question 11, which asked for the 2006 per capita income of city residents. It seems to me that this statistic is so key to basic governance that candidates for public office should know it as well as they know what their personal incomes are. If the numbers you reported accurately reflect their answers, it shows an alarming disconnect between perception and reality.

Carol Bellinger

Spokane, Wash.

It's Infill, Dummy

It seems that Robert Herold does not understand the difference between suburban sprawl and urban revitalization in his piece "Spokane Politics: An Alternative Theory" (10/25/07). His argument that Mayor Hession supports suburban sprawl is totally illogical. He uses the term "the haves" to refer both to "people interested in building the city" and "suburban sprawl advocates," and then claims that because Hession is getting money from "the haves," he supports sprawl.

But who are these "suburban sprawl advocates" Herold speaks of? When you look at Mayor Hession's supporters, you do not see suburban sprawl developers, but rather developers interested in downtown revitalization like Marshall Chesrown, Ron Wells, Walt Worthy and RenCorp, who are trying to revitalize downtown by densifying urban areas. To further confuse the issue, Herold interchangeably uses the terms "suburban sprawl" and "urban sprawl." But you cannot simultaneously have "urban" and "sprawl." Sprawl is the spreading of suburbs into previously undeveloped places outside city limits.

The truth is, The Inlander hit the nail on the head in its endorsement for Mayor Hession. Verner and Hession really are very similar. Both are promoters of green development and urban revitalization. Herold needs to check his facts.

Siarah Myron

Spokane, Wash.

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