Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for Aug. 30

Commissioners aren’t in charge of sheriff

In a recent article, Thurston County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela was quoted as saying Sheriff Dan Kimball was a department director whose budget she controls.

Sheriff Kimball is an independently elected official, and as such is neither an employee nor does he report directly to the commissioners.

In her executive capacity as commissioner, he is her peer.

In her legislative capacity, the commissioner does adopt the county budget. She does not, however, manage the sheriff’s office nor is she accountable to the public for his performance. He is.

If she provides a $20 million budget and Sheriff Kimball can keep the public safe and demonstrate achievement of clear performance measures with that money, how he administratively chooses to structure his office is his decision.

The problem is that the county continues to adopt budgets the same way as 30 years ago. They focus on positions and line item spending instead of programs, performance and outcomes. There are no performance measures known, tracked or agreed to.

The commissioners have all of the systems they design and the staff they hire still focused on line items and positions. This is why we are spending our time and money in court instead of delivering service to the citizens.


Thurston County treasurer

Health care legislation is flawed

I write this letter in my twilight years viewpoint as another concerned citizen plus 46 years as a family physician — civilian and Army, HMO, emergency room, urgent care clinic and professor of family medicine.

I downloaded the 1,018 pages of the proposed health care bill. I have struggled through 209 pages so far — many scarey items but the most scary thing is that the bill is still really an outline of a bill.

If passed, the Ivy League congressional staffers will fill in the blanks as they do on all bills.

That means the number of pages will increase to thousands at that point. Almost every page has a “to be defined by ...” which means many thousands more pages will be added by staffers.

Congress won’t know what is in the bill. It will be impossible for any one person to understand the final result. There are so many open-ended statements to be written out that almost any travesty could take place. I suggest we all read the bill.

In all fairness to the people; Congress, Senate and unions should be required to be on the plan instead of voluntarily allowed to be on the plan.

The current health plan for Congress and other government employees is very good compared with my current plan and what is in the proposed health care bill.

The fancy plans for Congress are as absurd as the fact they get full retirement after one term. How many common folks get such perks?



Apologies needed on both sides

I am not advocating that America apologize to Japan for WWII, but I would like to share an experience.

My wife and I were sitting on a park bench in Nara, Japan, when an elderly Japanese gentleman approached us. He asked us whether we would mind talking to him so he could practice his English. We of course agreed.

As part of the conversation, this gentleman said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Japanese government said, “No more Pearl Harbors,” and the American government said, “No more Hiroshimas?”



Cal Thomas column crossed the line

Usually I skip over Cal Thomas’s hate-filled op-ed diatribes, figuring that The Olympian is only doing its duty to reflect the wide variety of opinions in our community.

Occasionally, though, the headline is so shocking that I have to read the article, like a rubbernecker at the scene of an accident.

The “Muslims are invading western Europe through legal immigration,” is a case in point.

Surely, even an op-ed must meet a certain level of decency. When the author labels the entirety of the world’s largest religion as terrorists, it’s clear the line has been crossed.

I suggest a simple test. If The Olympian’s editorial staff substituted “Jews” or “blacks” for “Muslims,” would it run the column?

If not, conclude that the writer has overstepped the bounds of reasoned discourse.



Only things downtown are tickets

When the downtown Olympia Business Improvement District was first proposed I attended several of the meetings.

Through the question and answers sessions I asked why the property owners of downtown businesses were not being asked to pony up money at the time instead of just business owners? I was told that it would slow the plan down and it would all work out in the end.

Well that magical thinking worked out all right. “For Lease,” signs are everywhere. It seems the only reason to go downtown anymore is to get a parking ticket.

I hope the next round of leaders in this city will exert some leadership that makes our downtown viable. The only way to do that is to mandate that all parties are responsible for the health of downtown — including property owners.

Otherwise we might all just invest in a big banner over the city limits sign on I-5 that reads “For Lease,” Olympia, the All American City.