Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor for Jan. 24

Making the case for health care

Can anyone, after seeing the television coverage of the disaster in Haiti, honestly say that universal public health care is not ultimately required?

And, as a companion issue, who can deny the benefit to all mankind of a universal public/private education?

An educated, healthy humanity benefits everyone. Not only does it benefit everyone, it is ultimately cheaper. Ignorance, poverty, squalor and disease flourish at the peril of each and every one of us.

But, the fact remains that the human race has the capacity to overcome these challenges — someday.

NICK BOND, Olympia

Don’t fear the public

I read Matt Batcheldor’s article about the Olympia City Council retreat with dismay.

If Councilwoman Rhenda Strub believes that the public will “beat up on her” at any future public hearing, maybe she should consider changing her position, instead of hiding from the public she is supposed to represent.

She and the other incumbent council members (Joe Hyer excluded), claim to stand on principle. But the public wants decisions to be based on the substance of the discussion. The argument that higher height limits will not devalue Olympia’s unique topography lacks substance. It is obviously disingenuous.

The argument that the state should stay out of Olympia’s local zoning decisions lacks substance. Our community turned to the state because our local government was deaf both to reason and the will of the overwhelming majority.

I also object to the reporter’s assertion that the new council members are “opening old wounds.”

The wounds inflicted by the previous council were never resolved or healed in the first place. The new council members were elected specifically to deal with those wounds, and if Councilwoman Strub is offended by the process, she should consider a different line of work.

Her feelings are not the substance of this issue. If she had a more convincing argument in defense of the rezone, she would not be afraid of the public.


Council on the wrong track

In reference to the letter from Zena Hartung, she claims that we are not a divided community which could not be further from the truth.

I am frankly becoming quite tired of having anti-downtown development people speak for me and the nearly one-half of Olympia residents who do not want the growth-hostile City Council representing us.

Keep in mind that Councilwoman Jeannine Roe beat Joan Machlis by less than 1 percent. Clearly, we are divided, and this current council majority, backed by out-of-city support (who don’t care about our city, save for one issue, and should not have any input), is only interested in dividing us further.

Hartung is nearly as clueless as the recently elected one-issue members of the current council who are so inept that they actually gave away their own authority to the state!

What happens when something really important must be decided? Those of us who care about intelligent growth downtown, in addition to the multitude of other, higher priority issues, are afraid of what this council will do to our wonderful city.

The folks who can’t live with an additional few feet on buildings may have won this round, but that short-sightedness will cost us all when it comes to the far more important issues in Olympia. As for the suggestion in the letter about light rail, well, we’re going to need light rail to reach all the businesses and homes in outlying areas, forced out of downtown by the current City Council.


Tax reform is warranted

After listening to Gov. Chris Gregoire’s address to the state and the GOP response, I’m concerned that no real historical context was defined for the citizens of our state. The cost of governing our state did not blossom because inept politicians ran away with the budget, regardless of what shock-jock TV and radio say.

Our population grew from 4.1 million in 1980 to 6.6 in 2008. Since 1980, federal government transferred most social services, health and safety, education, transportation and ecological responsibilities/costs to the states.

We have no income tax. In 2008, the number of millionaires in King County alone was 68,390 — total population 1.9 million. Tim Eyman’s initiatives halted good progressive financial processes and resulted in poor service and regressive fiscal policy.

Our state tax structure supports the very rich, taxes the middle/working class at an embarrassingly higher rate than the wealthy. Ours is among the most regressive tax structures in America.

During the last decade, our state has lost hundreds of millions in revenue to floods, fire, avalanches, power outages and road closures. We’ve spent that much and more meeting those emergencies — mostly at the county level.

When we fire state/county employees, we lose our middle class, and thus our strongest tax base. We lose teachers, nurses, scientists, law enforcement and road workers. We lose community, effective government, and, mostly, we sacrifice democracy.

Buy from local businesses, support city, county and state workers, but mostly, please, inform yourself and support tax reform.