Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for Feb. 16

Care plan for vulnerable people needed

I was saddened when I learned that there was a strong possibility that Rainier School and four others housing special needs individuals will close as a cost-saving measure for our state. This is particularly troubling when I realize that no truly viable plan is in place for the residents who will be affected.

Simply transferring them to group homes in the community is not sufficient.

These residents have low enough cognitive function that they could easily become targets for abuse in a community setting.

Most have multiple problems that present behavioral and physical challenges. Because of this, they need a consistent environment where they can move about freely and safely, and where their ongoing needs are sufficiently met, something a group home in the community cannot adequately provide. They also need consistent caregivers who understand and can work effectively with them. Social worker caseloads are such that oversight is inadequate and abuse is seldom discovered in a timely manner, and sometimes not at all.

Changes are inevitable in every area of life. Usually they are made to provide improved service. Yet a plan for adequate provision has not been established with this change. Until a viable plan is in place that will not compromise care and that will adequately meet the needs of this unique population, the choice to close any of these schools should not be made.

Otherwise, it can only be seen as neglect of a vulnerable population.


Put meters in Capitol neighborhood

A tour of the immediate streets around the state Capitol shows reductions in parking spaces for members of the public, and for those whose business is working around the state Capitol.

It is a perennial issue of conflict between homeowners who live in the area year-round, owners of homes that are used as housing and office space, and the thousands of visitors who visit the state Capitol every day.

I am not going to address the home occupancy issue, only parking.

Why not meter the neighborhood? Like Seattle, Olympia could install 9-hour, credit/debit card friendly machines that would provide the city money, control parking, and recover the loss of dozens, if not hundreds of parking spaces from construction, and most recently, bus parking.

Perhaps the city of Olympia, the state of Washington, and the community at large can analyze this or any other set of proposals to balance public access to the government and the needs of its immediate neighbors.

I expect a degree of anger on this suggestion, but given local government’s fiscal crisis, wouldn’t metering the most popular parking in the city make sense?


Add tax to rental property

The Legislature is looking for ways to raise taxes. How about a new tax on the rental of real property?

A 1.5 percent business and occupations tax on the rental of such would bring in millions of dollars from a source that is not now taxed.

Wait, what about the property taxes?

Well, I pay property taxes, and I’m not exempt from the sales tax, gas tax, etc., so why should that matter? Property taxes are a deduction on federal income taxes, so they get the money back.

A limit could be set, such as there must be more than four units for residential property or a limit on square feet for other types of property. There is a 350-unit apartment complex near my home with an average rent of about $900 a month. A 1.5 percent tax would bring in $56,700 a year. Any increase in the rental amounts to cover the new tax would raise the amount of taxes owed, so there would be little reason to raise rental rates.


State workers hit hard by furloughs

Just a few thoughts:

The furlough proposal of state workers needs more thought. For managers and others with large salaries, it might not be a hardship, but the lower salaried clerical workers already have faced no cost-of-living increase and an increase in medical insurance premium payments. Many of these people are the sole supporters of families, helping aged parents, and they have other commitments.

What will their choices be? Will they skip needed medical visits, such as regular checkups for themselves? Will they skip some of the medications for themselves? Who comes next — their children, their parents?

Medical expenses are probably the first to go because of the deductibles and high co-pays. Where else can they cut — heat, food? Depression and morale will be hit, but they will not be able to afford help for that.

Are our leaders — elected officials, appointed officials and lawmakers — also giving up those days to lead and help? Is the union taking the same hit as the state workers? These people make far more than the average clerical staff. And most lawmakers have jobs anyway.

If these leaders give up days, it would at least help morale and maybe bring in more revenue than forcing so many days of no pay for the lower echelon.