Letters to the Editor

letters to the editor for April 20

United States building an edifice in Iraq

The Bush administration is about to put another feather in its cap. Construction is nearing completion on "George Bush's Palace," the 104-acre, 21-building U.S. Embassy complex being built in the Green Zone in Baghdad. It's the only U.S. building project that is on schedule and within budget.

And what a steal - it's only costing us a cool billion. Of course, that's because most of the work is being done by imported third-world laborers; you see, we couldn't trust the Iraqis not to sabotage the effort.

The logic is hard to explain: We're in the middle of a war-ravaged country where most people are lucky to have electricity a few hours a day, and our government decides to erect the largest, gaudiest, most heavily-fortified embassy the world has ever seen. And all in plain view - just across the Tigris River - of the Iraqi people.

In the United States, this would be the moral equivalent of FEMA hiring illegal immigrants to construct a new headquarters building - modeled after the MGM Grand in Las Vegas - in the middle of the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans. It would be repulsive on many different levels.

Yet, when all is said and done, probably dozens of our congressmen and women, military officials, and other "dignitaries" will fly to Iraq - at taxpayers' expense - and, after a harrowing ride from the airport to the Green Zone, attend a lavish ribbon cutting ceremony. And all of this is in the name of what - diplomacy?

Greg Ware, Olympia

Olympia councilman is a true patriot

I am responding to a letter published by a retired soldier named Gregory Young. Young was upset over Councilman TJ Johnson's recent acts of protest over the Iraq war.

Young stated that Johnson's protest was "against these brave men and women who serve."

I don't think Young really understands Johnson's intent. Johnson was not in any way protesting against soldiers, he was protesting the government who has put them into harm's way.

Johnson cares so deeply for soldiers that he was willing to be arrested to bring them home to safety, to their families who miss and need them.

I attend council meetings and I am impressed that Johnson posts the number of war dead on the face of his laptop. This simple act speaks that he truly cares. He does not do it for political gain but out of a conscience that finds it abhorrent that these lives were senselessly sacrificed. He is fully aware of the stress our military families face.

I feel for Young's son in Iraq but I disagree that his mission is in any way keeping me safer. I do not/did not fear Iraqis doing us harm.

My fears are much more domestic - like will I keep my health insurance this month? Can I afford the co-pays on my medications?

Johnson speaks for me; I am proud he has to courage to put his body and career on the line for what he believes. He is as much a patriot as any person in uniform.

Candy Eggleton, Olympia

We simply must invest in kids and families

Hallelujah! It's time for our elected officials to take action to support a long-term, meaningful effort to deal with some of the root causes of crime in our community. We have been talking about it for the 34 years that I have lived in this county. Yes, we need to invest in kids and families.

Early intervention, effective parenting, positive mentoring, and extensive involvement of the educational community are of paramount importance. Sure, we have achieved some limited success with programs such as drug court, Together, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs, Community Youth Services, Rochester Organization of Families, all with proven track records.

However, what has always been lacking has been reliable sustainable funding. They have barely survived on state or federal grant funding that has always been short lived and very limited in scope and duration. It's time to take some direct community action in an effort to affect the ever-growing criminal evolution in this community. It's time for the general public to step up and invest in our community's future.

No, existing tax revenues are not sufficient to achieve this. However, we the public, must be vigilant and relentless in our management of the funds generated should this tax-

increase measure pass. It is imperative that we require the politicos to write this measure in such a way that this funding is dedicated and that no diversion of any of these funds is possible. Fail not or we could be disappointed.

Remi Hansen, East Olympia