Olympia music program hailed

What an honor! The Olympia School District's music education program is among the 100 best in the country, according to a 2007 survey by the NAMM Foundation, a nonprofit association working on behalf of the musical instruments and products industry.

The foundation supports scientific research that explores the relationship between music and physical and emotional wellness. The foundation's advisory board looked at school districts' participation in music programs and funding levels before honoring Olympia. "We have a strong commitment to music education in this community, and we have a very high participation rate in all different kinds of music at our schools," said Peter Rex, an Olympia School District spokesman. "We also have extremely accomplished teachers, many of whom have won awards." It's a well-deserved honor.

Rep. Gary Alexander's attempt to give residents a couple of days to look at the state budget before lawmakers adopt it, has run into a roadblock in the form of Rep. Helen Sommers, D-Seattle. Sommers, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee refused to even give Alexander's proposal a legislative hearing. House Bill 1834 would force lawmakers to air their two-year spending plan for five days before voting. Alexander said he was willing to compromise on a two- or three-day review period. The operating budget will total $30 billion this year. Yet the public paying the bill gets no opportunity to peruse the budget before it's passed. Alexander is right in seeking a budget review period. Sommers is wrong to squeeze the public out of the budget adoption process.

State Rep. William Eickmeyer plays right into the hands of his many critics when he crosses ethical boundaries. Doesn't he know that his critics are watching his every move and will report any slip? The Legislative Ethics Board has ruled that Eickmeyer, a Democrat from Belfair, violated state ethics rules by having his legislative aide write three letters and make a handful of state-paid calls on behalf of the nonprofit agency he runs. Eickmeyer admitted the ethical lapse. He will receive a caution letter and must receive one-on-one ethics training from a House attorney. Shamefully, Eickmeyer blamed his ethical lapse on lack of training.

You have to love it when government jurisdictions blame each other and claim no responsibility for finding a solution to a public problem. That's precisely what's happening at Hicks Lake where flooding has Thurston County and city of Lacey officials saying, "Not our problem." Hicks Lake homeowners say the source of the problem is lack of maintenance for a 400-foot culvert used to convey water from Hicks to Pattison Lake. It's a bit more complicated than that. The culvert conveys water from a marsh and canal south of Hicks Lake across private property into another small wetland. From there, water flows through another culvert under Mullen Road and into Pattison Lake. Lacey Council members said the city doesn't have the authority to maintain the culvert because it is outside city limits. Go to the county, homeowners were told. The county has no right or responsibility to maintain the culvert because none of the property owners granted an easement, according to Dick Blinn, director of the county Department of Water and Waste Management. Homeowners are stuck in the middle - literally and figuratively. Where's the leadership? Why aren't county and city officials convening a neighborhood meeting with homeowners to explore the problem and look for solutions? Isn't that what public service is all about - serving the public?