Letters to the editor for Feb. 18

Impeachment should be on the table

We have a new start in D.C. and I am feeling more encouraged. I know Rep. Nancy Pelosi says impeachment is off the table, but our own local Congressmen say investigations are warranted. Investigations do not mean impeachment process to them.

OK, whatever.

We must continue to encourage them to act on their words. I can't help but wonder if this refusal to investigate evidence of presidential crime will become the wave of the future. We must not allow that to happen. To have reforms, we must restore the integrity of our Constitution by holding its violators accountable.

Thanks to the Republicans, during the Clinton administration, we now have one person with the power to issue subpoenas to this administration, without a committee vote. This is Rep. Henry Waxman, who is our new chairman of the House Government Reform Committee. It's going to be interesting for sure. Will he acknowledge the elephant in the room? I wonder, and if he does, he will need his hip boots to get through it all.

From what I have come to understand about him, he's tenacious in whatever he does.

I am looking forward to the town hall meeting on impeachment on Tuesday at the Washington Center for Performing Arts. The guest speaker list is impressive with well-known authors skilled in talking about the elephant in the room.

And it's free. I thank you Olympia.

Talitha Thalya, Olympia

Energy customers should get discount on their bill

The Olympian's Feb. 1st editorial proclaimed that the fine assessed against the Puget Sound Energy officials was a "just punishment." But I question if there was true justice and accountability.

The settlement agreement indicated that PSE has agreed to a $900,000 payment plus the $95,000 destined to the low-income assistance program.

I was also glad to discover that section 19 of the agreements states: "PSE agrees that it will not seek recovery through rates of the penalties, donations, or other costs paid pursuant to any provision of this agreement." These are noble words, but in the face of many examples of corporate fiscal shenanigans, do we really believe that PSE won't recover these costs in some future rate increase request? So, where is the punishment? Who made the decisions in PSE to betray the privacy of the customers they serve? Why aren't the executives ordered to personally shoulder the fiscal responsibility of this WUTC fine and any associated PSE legal costs? Why not place the punishment where it belongs?

I also wonder who receives the benefit of this finding? The fine will be paid to WUTC. But if I had placed one (or more) of the 65,260 phone calls illegally transferred for marketing purposes, I wouldn't mind receiving a $10 or $11 discount against my utility bill for each call transferred.

Andy Stepelton, Olympia

Courts have sided with paid signature gatherers

As The Olympian has editorialized, the people's right to initiative is under attack by a number of ill-advised bills.

State law already dictates the number of signatures, the size of the petition, the font used, etc.

Among the current proposals is one to criminalize payment per signature. But state law already criminalizes providing or receiving any consideration for soliciting or procuring signatures on an initiative or referendum petition if any part of the consideration is based upon the number of signatures solicited or procured. RCW 29A.84.250. The new proposal is premised on the same claim that "paying workers based on the number of signatures obtained on an initiative or referendum petition increases the possibility of fraud in the signature gathering process."

However, the U.S. Supreme Court held that states cannot prohibit paid signature gathering, saying that initiative petitions are protected political speech. The court stated that there was no evidence that paid professional circulators would have any more incentive to commit fraud than volunteers who were eager to have an initiative placed on the ballot. The 9th Circuit held that prosecutions under existing state law were "sparse" and that "volunteer circulators who are not subject to the disclosure requirement might be just as likely as paid circulators to commit fraud."

While legislators may hate Tim Eyman, making the process more difficult actually works to his benefit. If legislators are really interested in enabling grassroots initiative campaigns, they should work to deregulate the process.

Shawn Newman, Olympia