Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor for Aug. 18

Downtown businesses deserve some praise

The other day as I drove through downtown Olympia, I noticed beautiful hanging baskets lining the streets. This added touch of life inspired me to look more closely at the shops, many of them new, the restaurants, again, new, and other businesses that call downtown home.

Downtown was bustling! I even caught a glimpse of the new clean machine doing its job to help out. I was impressed!

Thank you to the downtown businesses who are helping to clean up and make this a beautiful place to live and shop!

Jennifer Long, Tumwater

True cost of war is poorly understood

Thank you for printing a daily death and injured list for the war in Iraq. It is a morbid reminder of what is happening, but it is also the only realistic reminder we have of the ultimate cost. I would also like to see listed along with the war casualties a daily accumulated list of the financial cost of the war. With the exception of a massive hidden national debt, most of us have not been required to give up anything to support this war. We are ignorant about the financial cost and what funding of this magnitude could do for other social and domestic programs in the nation.

A recent example of this is the interstate highway bridge collapse in Minnesota. Has any federal funding for the rebuilding of these structures been provided, or has the budget for this and other safety work been reduced by the administration so the national debt will seem a little smaller? I am sure you or an enterprising reporter in Washington, D.C., could locate numerous federal programs which have been stripped of their funding so the current administration can finance the war. A local example is the sale and closing of the Mount St. Helens visitor centers. These are not safety or welfare examples, but they are real nevertheless.

Paul Steucke, Olympia

Homes without yards are costly to children

The state Growth Management Act is a planning disaster. Conceived as a scheme to limit sprawl, instead, areas are clear-cut into a dense matrix of dwellings without yards. Older neighborhoods (built before the insanity) like Lake Forest might soon be the only urban oasis of trees left.

The GMA was inspired by the social engineering scheme Vision 20/20. In this nightmare, our children's yards are sacrificed so we can all live in an urban utopia without cars and government can save on utility infrastructure. The goal seems to be to pack as many people as possible into the state so that a few can make a windfall.

Gone are forts, tree houses, and gardens, yet prices are higher. We complain about overweight kids but where is the space for hobbies and play? What will this do to the next generation of children?

Sociologists know that overcrowding causes more crime and depression yet we are being "educated" that people actually prefer tiny lots and communal parks. But would parents be wise to let their small children go to a park by themselves?

Excessive development cost us our chlorine-free water supply in Lacey, with ever increasing water shortages, (plus traffic) its crazy to build so dense.

Why not back off the extreme density levels so that home sites can keep some large trees and a little bit of individuality? Can we get a bill ready for the next session before the land that's left is bulldozed flat and we don't recognize our county?

Mark Groening, Olympia

E-mails should be accessible to public

I was happy to read that Thurston County Superior Court Judge Anne Hirsch is reconsidering her recent decision allowing government employees to destroy e-mails that are accessible to the public under law. As it stands now, her ruling will result in less accountability and more government secrecy.

The case came about from a group trying to uncover voter fraud in Pierce County - the same kind of voter fraud that was just uncovered in King County, where seven people were charged with crimes after submitting fraudulent voter registrations. All of us remember the chaos in Florida in 2000 and in our own state after the 2004 election. Election fraud is a serious issue and crimes should not go unpunished.

But this case also brings to light an equally important issue: the public's right to see government records. The state and federal laws allowing access to public documents bring transparency and accountability to government. Without laws like this, we'd just have more scandals and cover-ups.

One of the Pierce County employees is quoted as saying, "I work in government and I delete e-mails all the time." Perhaps this employee should be reminded that he or she is employed by the taxpaying public.

Hopefully Judge Hirsch will take this opportunity to ultimately rule on the side of open government and accountability.

Patti Tupper, Olympia

Nurse, hospital dispute not about wages

It's my understanding that many people in our city believe we nurses at Providence St. Peter Hospital were picketing because we are "greedy." Let me make it clear that our wages are not currently on the table. We're picketing for YOUR right to the best care possible. Most of the hospital's management spoke out against the state Legislature's Patient Safety Act which would have legally put a limit on nurse to patient ratios.

Jim Leonard, our administrator, stated that "rank and file" nurses want the right to decline admits.

This is just not true. We want the unit CHARGE nurse to have this right. We know the acuity of our own units and need to have the right to say that going above the accepted standard for ratios is not an option. We know that there are times when we can't safely care for one more person.

Eventually every person out there reading this letter will need care from people like me. Would you want to be the patient that gets short changed because I was forced to accept an admit when I was already overwhelmed? If I have a patient in the middle of a heart attack or stroke or complications from open heart surgery, I know that I can't safely care for one more patient. I'm not greedy, just human. I want to be responsible for taking EXCELLENT care of YOU, not just barely adequate.

Trish Williams, Lacey

Olympia should follow Seattle's lead

I am not proud to be associated with Olympia. Our Lakefair event did not go well, and not just because of the weather. U.S. Navy military vessels were attempting to pay Olympia a visit, along with Canadian military vessels, and the Olympia City Council listened to and supported the loudest voice (protesters), not Olympia's majority.

These voices said, "War vessels stay away, we do not want you here and after all, your visit is just a recruiting tool." I feel ashamed that our military families were slapped in the face, the very families that have protected what freedoms we have.

Now look at our northern neighbor, Seattle, with their very successful Seafair. They welcomed a fleet of military vessels along with vessels from the U.S. Coast Guard and Canada. And they proudly advertise, via Seattle television, that the U.S. Navy Blue Angels ARE a recruiting tool. Maybe I should move to Seattle.

Roger Bruland, Tumwater

Animal identity system is full of holes

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report highly critical of the USDA's proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

The report can be found on the internet at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07592.pdf. The GAO report faults the government's failure to effectively implement the program, and noted the lack of a cost analysis despite the federal government having spent more than $100 million already.

Yet this only begins to scratch the surface of the problems with NAIS. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has failed to provide any evidence that the program will actually help control disease outbreaks, so there are no clear benefits to off-set the as-yet-unknown costs. Will NAIS actually provide any benefits over our existing systems? Should our limited resources be spent electronically tracking every livestock and poultry animal in the country, rather than inspecting imported foods from China or enforcing border controls to keep sick animals out of the country? What about the intangible costs in time, inconvenience and loss of privacy for the millions of Americans who own animals as pets or for hobbies, as well as farmers and ranchers? Neither Congress nor the USDA has even a t tempted to answer these questions.

I urge everyone to ask Senator Harkin and Senator Chambliss to hold oversight hearings in the Senate Agriculture Committee to look into the full scope of the problems with NAIS. Nongovernment sources, such as the Liberty Ark Coalition (www.libertyark.net) have compiled significant evidence of the problems with NAIS.

Donald Kircher, Yelm