Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for Feb. 18

‘Pretrial’ diversion is wrong

I write in regard to the “Precharge” diversion program of the county prosecutor. What happened to due process?

I have concerns regarding the rights of the persons who choose what they may feel is the easy way out. That is not necessarily true. Because of family going through the system, I am finding out a lot about how it works, or should I say how it does not always work.

It is understandable they are looking for ways to cut back, but at the cost of someone losing their right to be seen by a judge?

“Precharge” diversion is very coersive in my mind. Those individuals are given information and all they hear is avoidance of a criminal record, not understanding those charges have to be proved in a court of law. They have rights, don’t they?

To me, the court is taking advantage of someone that may be scared, and because of not knowing what it all means are being steered to an easier path for the court system.

And, of course, why would the courts care if defense attorneys have a difficult time staying in business. Isn’t mankind wonderful? What in the heck is this world coming too?

It makes me sad to think about that.


Use port property for housing, not hotel

Tarragon, the developer that the Port of Olympia is working with on East Bay scheduled and then postponed a conference with the city about putting a hotel on 2.5 acres at the corner of State Avenue and Jefferson Street. This used to be a lumberyard; then boats were stored there.

I don’t think there’s a better downtown housing site for people with kids than this. It’s public land, cleaned up by the port with public funds to make it buildable. The port is spending $3.9 million in taxes to develop new streets, sewers, sidewalks and lights for development there. It’s directly across the street from a big public plaza, to be paid for and maintained with taxes. On the other side of the plaza is the Hands On Children’s Museum, to which $9 million in public funds has been committed by the city.

The site has a waterfront view of East Bay and the marina, across the plaza and the lawn of the Children’s Museum, which will never be built on.

There’s a publicly maintained waterfront park and trail across the street. It’s the best place downtown for living with kids.

Everybody agrees market-housing downtown would have important public benefits — supporting downtown, reducing driving, saving heating energy and rural land. This prime site doesn’t interfere with anybody’s view.

Please ask the port commissioners to use it for housing, rather than another hotel, so we get some significant public benefits from all the taxes we’re investing there.


Congress must pass health care reform

Congress seems to be tiring of the health care debate at the same time that a new federal study shows that health care spending rose to $8,047 per person per year in recent years. Costs are expected to nearly double in the next decade.

How many Americans can afford that?

Both houses of Congress have passed health care reform legislation. Now they should carry out their duty to America and come to an agreement on a bill so that all Americans can afford to stay healthy, and so that none of us faces bankruptcy in the face of a serious accident or illness.

Personally, I’m not ready to have fellow citizens crushed under the burden of health care costs because they suffered the misfortune of falling ill, being in a car accident, falling while skiing or any of the myriad of reasons that cause one to need prolonged treatment. How many will be forced to suffer – or die – because they cannot afford treatment, and because Congress is making the issue a political one, instead of a policy one?

I am fortunate to have good, affordable health insurance, but I’m scared to death my young adult children, faced with terrible job prospects, won’t be able to afford insurance. At least I can buy them some coverage in case of a major mishap. Many parents cannot afford to do so.

Come on senators and representatives, let’s pass a reasonable health care bill very soon.


Turn off the fountain

How much does it cost to keep the Heritage Park Fountain running through the winter?

I don’t usually see anyone taking advantage of the cool, refreshing water this time of year.


Yet another broken promise

Another promise is broken – this time the triple oil tax proposed in the state Legislature.

Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, said, “We relieve some of that immediate pressure on the operating budget, but eventually we dedicate virtually all of this revenue to stormwater pollution.”

Yes, just like lottery money going to schools, no toll on the Narrows Bridge and the seat belt law will never be a primary offense.



When will we ever learn?

Do military forces in Afghanistan think they can win the hearts and minds of the people with the use of massive force? Ask the children. Ask the mothers. Ask the old men.

Greg Mortenson has demonstrated a better way through the Central Asian Institute’s amazing work in the most remote sections of Afghanistan and Pakistan. They have shown how much can be accomplished by turning stones into schools and drinking three cups of tea with the people.

Mortenson will be in Olympia in May at Saint Martin’s University, telling about the work of promoting peace with books, not bombs.

That accomplishes so much more, and costs so much less.

James Fett, Lacey