Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor for April 12

Lawmakers must pass family leave legislation

I find it dismaying that the paid family leave bill may not pass. We so often hear about family values and the importance of investing in our children, but when it comes down to it, families aren't valued or supported in this country. I know many parents who save up sick and vacation leave so that they can spend time with their newborns, but this isn't an option for many low-wage and part-time workers. Five weeks at a maximum of $250 a week isn't a lot, but it will make it easier for many people to spend time bonding with their baby or caring for a sick relative.

The U.S. is the only industrialized country that doesn't offer some sort of paid family leave. Senate Bill 5659 won't address all of the complex problems facing families, but it recognizes that parents need to be supported and valued. Anyone who feels like their work is valued is likely to do a more conscientious job, and I believe this holds true for parenting and caretaking.

Julie Montgomery, Olympia

Did port protesters accomplish anything?

This letter concerns the protest at Olympia's port, which got 16 (originally 17) people in legal hot water for trespassing. Now the future of the Olympia 16 hangs in legal limbo thanks to a mistrial.

A number of letters to The Olympian have praised the protesters as models of civil disobedience - heirs to the legacy of Henry David Thoreau. A number of other letters to the editor have castigated the protesters as trouble-makers who deserve heavy fines and long months in jail as punishment for their evil, trespassing ways.

However, silence reigns when it comes to the issue of whether the protesters actually accomplished anything. This silence is not surprising. Anyone with common sense knows that you can't stop a war - or even slow it down one tiny little bit - by staging a yelling party and damaging two fences.

Some might argue that the protest raised awareness of the horrors of the war. But if recent letters to the editor are any indication, the only thing that the protest managed to advertise was the misbehavior of the protesters.

With all their legal troubles, it's ironic that the protesters could have accomplished much more within the limits of the law. Suppose they voiced their opposition to the war by recruiting as many young people as they could to write individual and hard copy letters to lawmakers both state and federal. Though such letters might not have changed the course of history, they would have exerted far more influence than the Olympia Port Tantrum of 2006.

James Grossmann, Lacey

Base education on skills needed for life

WASL, end of course assessment, failing students, failing schools, failing parents, it's your fault, no it isn't, it's theirs. Let's stop for just a moment and ask why do we have grades K-12 in the U.S.?

Forget that K-12 is modeled after the assembly line of the industrial age; and for the sake of sanity, simplicity and perhaps a touch of clarity, let us agree that grades K-12 exist to prepare young people for a meaningful life and making a living. IF we can stay within that border, the evidence seems to indicate that most people who move more or less successfully through the assembly line of K-12 pop out and take various routes toward ever-changing goals.

Some immediately enter the world of work. Some go on to a community college or vocational school and enter the world of work. Some go to a four-year institution and, guess what, they enter the world of work.

Perhaps we might want to reallocate our resources and, rather then spend them on teaching how to take statewide tests, we might want to discover what the world of work, community/vocational/four-year schools believe to be the basic, minimum skills and knowledge needed to enter their respective domains.

A wild guess even suggests there could exist some things that are basic to all three domains. Those could be the common learnings that all students would be expected to master or demonstrate an appropriate level of competency prior to popping out of grade 12.

Raleigh Harmon, Olympia

Speaker Pelosi deserves credit

I am proud of Speaker Nancy Pelosi for meeting with Syrian leaders. She's does what the petulant Bush administration failed to do for eight years: talk to our enemies.

When we communicate, we find common ground, despite our differences.

Finding common ground transforms adversaries into partners and crises into opportunities. But this requires that we renounce the winner-

take-all posture of the school yard bully. Talking to our enemies is not a sign of weakness, but maturity. Thank you, Speaker Pelosi. It's refreshing to see U.S. foreign policy represented by a grown-up.

Fred LaMotte, Steilacoom

Organ donors are true heroes

For the past 33 years I have been a type 1 diabetic. During the last two years, I have faced the challenges of dialysis for kidney failure.

On the evening of March 8, all that changed. After seven hours of surgery by the finest transplant surgeons in the Northwest - located at Virginia Mason Medical Center - my health is now normal.

This is not just about me. It is about every person in need of a similar miracle. The medical staff, from surgeons/doctors, to transplant coordinators to the hospital staff exhibited the highest levels of skills and caring one can demonstrate. I thank each of them.

None of the skills and caring can happen, however, if heroes had not stepped forward. The parents of an 18-year-old young man, in the midst of the most horrible grief any parent can face, made a decision full of grace to help me and others. This singular act of compassion is heroic.

We need donors. We need heroes who, at the time of their death, or God forbid, the death of a child, make a similar decision. It is a gift that lives on and impacts many, many lives.

The Legislature also needs to step up and create an opt out donor program at the time a person receives their driver's license. It will save lives and reduce the long-term health care costs for seriously ill Washingtonians, as it has for me.

Bryan Nelson, Tumwater

Democrats aren't fighting in Bush's style

I read where President Bush is saying once again that the Democrats are undermining the troops by their efforts to bring an end to war.

The president is correct, the only way to support the troops in the approved style is to send undertrained and underequipped soldiers into an illegal war. When they are killed refuse to allow photographs or live views of the coffins returning home. Refuse to allow public funerals and definitely refuse to meet with the relatives.

As the number of injured, disabled and mentally damaged increases make certain to cut the funding for treatment to allow for tax cuts to the greedy. Assure that military units will be rotated into the combat zone at rapid enough intervals to assure inadequate training and less time for the members to spend with families than originally promised. Institute stop loss orders so that it appears that no draft is needed, only volunteers serve.

And always remember your plan was brilliant, if only the Iraqis would stand up and the Democrats would stand down the troops would be supported in true George W. Bush-approved style.

Don Penders, Lacey

UTC was simply following the law

Did anyone at The Olympian actually read the statutes before excoriating the Utilities and Transportation Commission for its handling of pipeline data?

The Olympian criticizes the UTC for "running to the industry" and giving it 10 days to get a court order protecting its information. Yet that is exactly what RCW 80.04.095 requires: notice to the company and a 10-day waiting period for a Superior Court judge to decide whether the information qualifies for protection. The Legislature has said that the courts, and not the UTC, are to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the public records act applies to data filed at the UTC.

The UTC was simply following the law.

Glenn Blackmon, Olympia