Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for Jan. 28

State cuts warrant levy passage

Rochester School District is running a replacement/renewal levy in February. Ballots must be postmarked by Feb. 9.

This is a two-year renewal levy, not a new or increased tax. In our economic environment, we’ve worked hard to prepare a budget that will continue to support our students’ learning without costing our taxpayers additional money.

State cutbacks have impacted the district with a $1.03 million loss for the 2009-1010 school year, and it is proposed that our district could lose an additional $1.5 million of state funding in the 2010-2011 school year. The requirements and expectations for how we educate our students will not diminish with the deduction in funding, nor do we want to undermine the hard work staff and students continue to exert to provide and take advantage of the excellent opportunities in the Rochester schools.

Passage of our levy is so very crucial this year. This money stays in our community and pays for programs and services which are not funded, or are only partially funded by the state. Eighty percent of the levy directly impacts teaching and learning. The additional 20 percent helps keep our facilities clean and in good repair, fills the unfunded gap for bus transportation and supports our athletics and activities.

Visit our committee’s Web site at www.SupportRochesterSchools.info for specific information.

Please support this essential renewal levy by voting “yes.”

ERIC JOHNSON, VIKI DRAPER, BEN ELKINS, JOHN MORTENSON AND CONNIE SMEJKAL - Board of directors, Rochester School District

No room for disrespect

It appears that Saul Alinsky’s playbook is still active. He told his followers that “ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also, it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.” He also said to “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.”

I guess in today’s society, name calling and insults are the only choices for some people who disagree with anyone who has differing political or personal views.

Just who is Sarah Palin? She is an American woman who identifies herself as a Christian, a wife, a mother of five, a grandmother, a political conservative, the mayor of a small town, once governor of our largest state, a vice presidential candidate, an author and soon a member of the Fox network.

And all this was achieved by a “psycho” as claimed by letter writer Elna Benoit? Palin is hardly pathetic. Instead, she personifies what is possible in America.

She is an example of someone who has worked hard in achieving her goals, and for this she and her family, and even her developmentally disabled baby, have been incredibly insulted, mocked and ridiculed. Those tactics are pathetic! You may not agree with her politics or beliefs, but as an American she has as much right to express them as anyone else.

Having passion for your beliefs is one thing. Disrespecting and disparaging the beliefs of others is something else. No wonder many talented people shy away from political office.

JUDITH CARLSON, Olympia

Surveillance chills free speech rights

Law enforcement should conduct surveillance only when there is reason to suspect criminal activity.

Yet, government surveillance of individuals’ and groups’ lawful political and religious activities has increased significantly.

In Washington, military personnel have infiltrated law-abiding peace groups. State, local and federal agencies now share surveillance data through fusion centers with no state regulation. Law enforcement has shared personal, non-criminal information with private contractors.

Surveillance targeted at unpopular views chills free speech rights, swamps law enforcement with useless data, and makes it harder to address real security threats. Safeguards are needed.

Law enforcement must protect security, but this doesn’t require us to sacrifice rights. Security and freedom should go hand in hand. The government should not target people for holding unpopular views.

We deserve to be safe AND free.

Washington should enact legislation to allow government to collect and share information about free speech, political, or religious activities only when there’s a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

Agencies should be required to audit their intelligence files, and individuals should have the chance to challenge and correct inaccurate information stored in government files. This would ensure a more effective system that protects free speech rights while improving security.

Without reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior, political or religious surveillance wastes precious resources by forcing law enforcement to sift through mountains of irrelevant and inaccurate information.

This makes it harder to address true threats, and leaves us neither safe nor free.

Please support Senate Bill 6432 and House Bill 2798.

PHILIP CORNELL, Olympia

Health care reform needed

Things are getting out of hand.

My neighbors here on the east side of Olympia are getting further and further behind the eight ball when it comes to basic medical care.

Have you dealt with your county health department lately? Bare bones services, scary.

I expect my representatives to completely support President Barack Obama’s plan to provide health care for all citizens — now!

EDWARD FLYNN, Olympia

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