Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for Dec. 25

Drivers need to cover up

OK all you 4x4 owners, it’s time to be more considerate to the drivers behind you – and I’m not talking about your driving.

If your vehicle has large tires or is jacked up to where the bottom of the fender well is above the center on the tire or the tires are extended beyond the fender, you need to have mud flaps.

RCW 46.37.500 reads, “No person may operate any motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer that is not equipped with fenders, covers, flaps or splash aprons, adequate for minimizing the spray or splash of water or mud from the roadway to the rear of the vehicle. All such devices shall be as wide as the tires behind which they are mounted and extend downward at least to the center of the axle.”

Not only does this reduce the chance of breaking the windshield of the vehicle behind you, it increases their visibility by reducing the water spray during wet weather driving. Keep in mind this is a citable offense.

Sorry glass companies, safety first.


Co-op serves as a fine example

If you want to find some heroes on the front line of climate change mitigation, you’ll find some at the West Olympia Food Coop.

One recent Sunday afternoon I biked there in a light snowfall, feeling fairly unique until I arrived and found their large bike rack already full.

Say what you will about the kind of people who do this (and buy local, vegetarian, organic food in bulk to further cut emissions and pollution), but with transportation emissions a major cause of carbon emissions, these folks are taking effective action and walking the talk.

If only the governments attending the climate conference in Copenhagen would do so well.


Base climate debate on solid science

I commend The Olympian for its climate change coverage. A recent AP article discussed indiscretions by scientists who developed and promoted global warming theory. What the article could not convey is the issue’s complexity and the importance of adherence to good science principles.

Scientists involved appeared to adjust their data when they developed surrogate measures and smoothed anomalies, standard procedures when dealing with extrapolated information. Potential data bias in this process is possible; replication – verification – is critical. It is a bedrock scientific principle that research must be replicable.

The scientists involved hid, destroyed or otherwise would not share their raw data, and, worse, actively suppressed research that might disagree with their results. Scientists in question ensured their work would not receive appropriate scrutiny. While not exactly faked, it is an inexcusable scientific breach, one with enormous social implications.

The fix is two-fold: First, climate scientists must be removed from the policy-making arena; they must redo the science following accepted scientific principles. Second, we must separate the air and water pollution debate from climate change science. Climate scientists then will properly be tasked while policy makers, and their own scientists, deal with air and water pollution regulation.

The climate change debate needs properly conducted science. It only gets worse from here if we don’t demand it.

BOB DICK, Shelton

Mental health care at risk

I am writing this letter to inform readers about an issue which could significantly impact their mental health insurance coverage.

I am a licensed mental health counselor in Olympia and am the president of the Southwest Washington Association of Behavioral Health.

Last spring, the Health Care Authority awarded a contract to Aetna insurance to administer the state’s Uniform Medical Plan.

This award was challenged in court by other insurance providers. The court determined the contract was awarded unfairly and the HCA was directed to conduct another request for proposals in 2010. This process will begin in January.

If the contract award had gone into effect, it would have had a negative impact on Uniform subscribers. With the new contract, mental health providers would have been reimbursed up to 50 percent less than by the previous administrator.

With such a significant loss of revenue, many providers would not have been able to remain with Uniform, likely resulting in state employees and their family members needing to find new providers.

Without quality mental health care, especially during these difficult times, the employees of the state and their family members could suffer significantly.

I encourage state employees to educate themselves about this issue and to then contact the Health Care Authority, their state representatives and their union representatives to voice their concern.

BETH ROGERS - President, SWABH board of directors