Turner inspires confidence
How is it that our community has found such a qualified person as John Turner to run for the position of sheriff of Walla Walla County? I had the privilege of listening to him speak at a meeting and was truly inspired with his presentation.
Among his many qualifications are previous law enforcement employment and training with the Los Angeles Police Department, where he was a police officer. He has a law degree and experience as a police attorney working at all levels of law enforcement.
As a display of the level of his commitment to our nation, in 2008, at the invitation of the Department of Defense - and with some serious soul searching - he volunteered to be imbedded with the U.S. Army in Iraq for 15 months of duty as a counter-terrorism investigator/rule of law advisor. He returned from Iraq in October of 2009. He currently has a top-secret clearance from the Department of Defense. The investigation required to award a top-secret clearance insures to all of us that John Turner is a man of integrity.
John's family ties in Walla Walla County go back more than 100 years and he spent his summers on a family farm here that he now manages. His wife, Jacqui, is a local girl. John met her at Garrison Junior High when she was in the seventh grade. She is a graduate of Whitman College. He and his family know and are committed to Walla Walla.
Upon John Turner's return from Iraq, members of our community noted his unique qualifications and dedication to community. He was invited to consider running for the office of sheriff of Walla Walla County.
We are fortunate he accepted. He brings with him the skill, leadership and attitude that will only strengthen an already solid Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office.
John Turner will be pleased to speak with any group, large or small. Once you have had the opportunity to meet with him, I, too, believe you will be impressed with this fine citizen who will make an outstanding sheriff for Walla Walla County.
Use money for capital improvements
Deciding what to do with extra money is usually a happy task, but not this time.
In 2007 the majority in Walla Walla approved a bond that stated: "... This proposition authorizes the district to replace Edison Elementary with a new elementary school and pay for other capital improvements; issue $19,500,000 of general obligation bonds maturing within 13 years ..."
The School Board must decide how to spend the money saved from the Edison project. People have strong opinions on how to spend it or whether to spend it at all.
We have a responsibility to make our opinions known to our elected officials. The Union-Bulletin's editorial said the money should be returned, and had reasons for the position. In the closing paragraph the editorial indicated that distrusting voters might vote down future bonds. This is the wrong way to respond.
Instead of threatening to vote no on future bonds, vote out the School Board members whom you feel are not doing their job well. We elected School Board members to make decisions about providing education for the children of Walla Walla.
Threatening not to support future bonds doesn't send a message to the School Board that it is not listening and is making bad decisions. Instead, it sends a message to our children we don't want to support their education.
It doesn't sound like part of the trust solution we need. Instead, it sounds threatening like the way a bully would behave, and bullies have never been respected, trusted or in the majority in Walla Walla.
Let's not act like schoolyard bullies in our discussions about the issues before us.
We elect School Board members to make decisions on issues on which we voters may have strong opinions.
We need to remember, however, that the School Board's decisions should be focused on the impact to not just voters, but some non-voters as well - the children of the Valley.
Yes, "other capital improvements" is a significant communication failure and the School Board and district now have their work cut out to earn back the voters' trust.
However, I would respectfully like to express my opinion that the School Board use the money "for other district capital improvements" because to do otherwise is not in our children's best interest. And I also commend the School Board members for their efforts to make good decisions, even the decisions I don't agree with.
Return all excess bond money to taxpayers
The Walla Walla School Board members must decide what to do with the $1.6 million left from the Edison bond..
Will they use excess bond money as they have in the past (unrestricted to spend as they please on capital projects) or will they reduce the bond debt?
Let's review Edison School bond history in chronological order.
In 2006 Edison School and a Support Services Facility were part of a school bond proposal on the ballot. The school bond was overwhelmingly defeated on May 16, 2006.
The Walla Walla School Board believed a stand-alone Edison bond would pass. In late 2006 it presented an Edison bond proposal for $19 million, which when added to the state matching $3.4 million allocated for Edison totaled $22.4 million.
This was at least $10 million more than was allocated for Edison School earlier in 2006. Edison was built on a larger scale than originally planned so we have a final excess of $5 million.
Shortly after the successful Edison bond election, the School Board purchased property for a new support services facility. It sold the Park Street bus facility to the YMCA. These actions were done after money to build the support services facility became available from the state matching dollars for Edison School.
This speedy purchase and sale of land after the bond passage suggests the school board had planned to use the state matching dollars for Edison to build the new service facility from the beginning.
It's doubtful the Park Street sale was done through the legal public biding process required by law. The many public advertisements before the May 16 bond vote indicated the school superintendent and the YMCA director had agreed on the Park Street facility sale before the bond vote.
It seems the School Board purposely inflated the Edison bond and are currently building a new support services facility with the $3.4 million state matching money meant for Edison School. Board members are ignoring the voters' decision of May 2006 to not build that services facility.
If the preceding paragraph is true, that action appears fraudulent.
It's unfortunate people think the end results justify the means and/or the money source for those results, no matter how unsavory that money source is.
Let's return all excess bond money to the taxpayers from whence it came as bond debt reduction.
Don't ruin fun for dogs
I was just made aware of the effort to require dog leashes at Bennington Lake. I have walked my dog there for eight years and have never had a bad incident. Most dog walkers are very courteous and leash their dogs as needed for horses or people.
One of the things I love most about Walla Walla is Bennington Lake and the fact that dogs are allowed to have some fun and run off leash. It's fun for the dogs and the people walking them.
Bennington Lake attracts people with diverse interests and for the most part, it seems to work. Please don't change the way the reservoir is run!
Let's discuss Kiwanis Park in College Place
In response to the letter by Tom Nollette on June 8, not all of his facts are correct.
The things he stated were discussed at City Council. This came up about a name change around three or four years ago. When researched, the local Walla Walla Kiwanis Club and the National Kiwanis Club were not interested in doing anything with the park.
As to Ken Silvers spearheading this, there is a veteran on the Council who would like to see the change made to honor the veterans. There are at least three of us on the Council who are veterans.
I started the stall. We were asked to give staff input as to what we wanted it to do; some of us weren't ready to vote as there was no paperwork to know for sure what we were doing so we weren't ready to vote. When I made my statement, the mayor stated he thought a motion was proper.
After the vote went negative the mayor showed his anger at it not being passed. I feel he was out of order because I am on the Council to represent the citizens not just to pacify the mayor.
I have heard from other citizens besides Tom who don't want the change. I am sure it will show up again. They should show up at the Council. There may be other ways to work out a compromise.
I would like for the citizens to come and state their positions and their solutions. It was said this was the third time this was discussed but I only remember it about three or four years ago and I asked to see the information but was refused as the mayor was emphatic that this was the third time but nothing was in the information given to us so we could see what had been discussed.
This needs to be done correctly if it is to be done and this is why I voted against the motion. The Kiwanis members, dead or alive, worked hard in fundraisers and other ways for the park and need to be remembered.
Maybe a name such as Kiwanis/Veterans Park would be an appropriate change. Let us hear from you. Call the city staff or Council members and let them know how you feel. I am on the Council to work for you.
Tea-party movement misrepresented
A recent Kathleen Parker column amply illustrates the Eastern elite press' phobia about the tea-party movement. Through innuendo and occasionally directly, they wrongly identify it as a racist, extreme right-wing cabal.
Even televised clips have strained to exaggerate those whose irritation and disgust with congressional actions got the better of their own inclination to tolerance and decency. And some were obvious plants.
From my preliminary research of the tea party's thrust, it appears to be concerned and agitated about: Congressional and White House skulduggery in the health-care reform act, lack of any coherent strategy to end our porous borders, suspect commitment to the security of our nation, runaway expansion of government power and control over our lives (not to mention the explosion in government employees), the appointment of 60 unaccountable "czars," stealth tax increases through cap and trade proposal and value added tax and the explosion of the national-debt load that amounts to stealing from our children and grandchildren.
Much of this is not change that got this administration elected nor change that is readily identified with the electorate's hopes and ideals.
Observation of tea party events tells me most were populated by parents and their children of "the Greatest Generation" whose tolerance and forbearance was finally strained beyond what they could endure and thus were moved to action.
Yes, a significant percentage of attendees were/are God fearing (respecting) people whose common sense and sense of values tells them our country needs/must be restored to fiscal viability and the vision of our Founding Fathers for a government composed of its citizenry, not self-centered career politicians.
Kenneth D. Emerson
Frank Brown works hard for the community
Walla Walla will always be "home" to me. I grew up there the daughter of Johnnie Dennis, a Walla Walla High School teacher for 40 years.
Frank Brown has been an incredible friend to us for over 35 years. I'd like to challenge you, the intelligent and caring citizens, to question why, though Frank has served two terms as county coroner, these "accusations" were not brought to your attention until the very week for filing one's intentions to run for this next term.
Are you aware this amazing man works for you 24/7 with no clerical help, no budget to speak of, and on a salary, compared to other counties and states, that is a disgrace? In spite of this, Frank speaks of his job as an honor to be enabled to "be there" for the people of his community in times of crisis and death.
He is passionate about treating grieving families with caring respect, and their deceased loved ones with reverence, while doing all he can professionally, with the few resources available to him, to correctly process all the necessary steps and paperwork required when someone dies.
Again, I'd like to challenge the community members who are fortunate to have such a caring, committed and undeniably dedicated man as coroner, seriously on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to investigate the allegations brought by your commissioners and law enforcement officials.
Just be sure you include them and their actions, responses and attitudes toward the one-man coroner department, in that investigation. It is said "truth is simple but rarely ever seen."
If any of you care about truth, do not allow Frank Brown to be attacked in this manner without asking honest, searching questions across the board about the behavior of your public servants.
In closing I'd like to say that, in my opinion, we must never forget that every person, with whatever faults he or she may have, is a sacred human being and is therefore entitled to our respect and consideration.
May we guard against assuming the role of judge and punisher and remember we cannot destroy another person without inflicting great damage on ourselves.
Maureen Dennis Johnson
Frank Brown not ‘hard' to get along with
I do not know the whole story behind the complaints against our county coroner, but with the elections coming up in November it does not surprise me that someone is having a rough time of it with the coroner.
I have known Frank Brown for many years, never have I known him to be one who was "hard" to get along with.
I am a volunteer firefighter for Walla Walla County Fire Protection District No. 8 and during the times I have observed him, while he is working, I have only known him to be very professional and compassionate.
I am sure following the rules and regulations are just as important to a coroner as they would be for an officer of the law. Again, I am sure the time allowed for the coroner to do his job is not and never will be "fast" enough for someone who is hoping to solve a crime. Nor do I believe it would be "fast" enough for someone who needs to have a "death" certificate in their hands right now at this moment.
Death is never a happy occasion and waiting for the results from the coroner must seem like forever.
Again, I do not know the whole story behind the complaints against our county coroner, but with the elections coming up in November it does not surprise me that at this time someone is unhappy with him.
I applaud our coroner and know this is not a job that brings a smile to your face. He must have one of the most stressful jobs there is. But it is a job of his choosing and one he does in the utmost professional manner and still filled with compassion.
I appreciate Frankie for a job well done.
It is time to fix Rose Street
Interesting letter to editor Tuesday describing the new sign directing traffic to our wonderful Blue Mountain Mall. Sears and Shopko, to their credit, have hung in there and are great places to shop.
Too bad we let someone scam us into the mess we have there now.
After our unfortunate visitors find they have only two places to shop, they then must traverse the "obstacle course" called Rose Street. It is an abomination and an embarrassment to our city. If not driven with a great deal of care, it is easy to ruin a tire or throw your front end out of alignment.
I recall in the mid-1980s a percentage of taxes were to go to the upkeep of our streets. Surely that money was not spent on our streets or they would not be in the deplorable condition we find them in today.
Those of us using Rose Street on a regular basis find it hard to miss all of the potholes and ruts on this well-traveled street. Think of all the people coming into our city who are not familiar with this road. What must they think as they come into our town for the first time?
I say well-traveled as it is one of the busiest streets in Walla Walla. I am sure our City Council knows this as surely it reads the counters placed on this road. Trying to access Rose Street from Avery Street or some of the other streets takes up to 5 minutes. There are hundreds of people living in the area whose only way out of their homes is by way of Rose Street. It is also a main access into Walla Walla from College Place, U.S. Highway 12 and now Myra Road.
We have seen huge amounts of money spent on Isaacs and 13th avenues, as well as many others that are very much less traveled. Many of us are getting very upset about the complete disregard for this major access to Walla Walla.
It is time to work on this road!
Leon L. Olsen
More water spilled over dams will hurt fish
Last week a coalition of environmental and fishing groups sued the Department of Ecology. It wants more water spilled at the Columbia and Snake river dams thinking it will increase salmon survival.
When I went to work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a fish biologist in 1971, the burning environmental issue was that spill at dams caused gas supersaturation that killed the salmon.
The Corps installed more turbines at the dams (water passed through turbines does not entrain air), installed spillway deflectors to prevent water from plunging down deep in the stilling basins where air became supersaturated in the water, and completed upstream storage dams so high flows could be reduced by storing flood waters for release in the summer.
When the fishery agencies wanted more spill in the 1990s so fewer fish were transported around the dams, the Corps designed overflow spill gates for the eight Corps dams. Water going under normal spill gates shoots out 50 feet below the surface of the reservoir expanding instantaneously and entraining air. For juvenile salmon passing under the gates, it is like a scuba diver popping to the surface from 50 feet down.
Once in the water, the supersaturation persists for miles from one dam to the next. Fish take it in and their blood becomes supersaturated with gases too.
Bubbles form in the blood and thin tissues around the eyes or in the mouth or on the cheeks. Bubbles can form in capillaries in the gills or in the blood stream killing the fish outright. External bubbles burst and become infected.
Supersaturation in the blood can have narcotic effects making escape from predators less likely. Adult fish can hit spillway gates as they shoot under or hit their heads as they pass through orifices in the fish ladders.
In the 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency and state water quality agencies adopted 110 percent supersaturation as a safe standard to protect the fish. Since then, the fishery agencies and tribes have decided those standards are too low.
For the past two decades, the environmental agencies have given the Corps waivers to operate up to 120 percent. Now this group is suing to do away with the standards altogether.
Scientists who have studied this problem think that is a very dumb idea. If the plaintiffs win, they will kill more fish, not save more fish.
Negativity for art
What happened to the land of dreams? What is all this foggy and chilly negativity when you don't allow local artists to show their art at your place? Why don't Walla Walla business owners just say: "Bring in your art. If we sell it we might charge you a commission?"
People seem so scared of trying new things; their faces are all wrinkles and their shoulders seem shrinking tight when they reply to an art show request by saying: "We don't do this. We only show our own things."
What is this "thing" of yours? In times like this we should help each other. Why not promote art in Walla Walla, in our lives, in our stores, in schools, in hospitals, in banks, in churches?
Yes, what about Christian art? Open up your wings and fly! Why make it so difficult or make it so complicated? Since before Christ artists are the soul of a democratic society, not beggars. And what about the Art-Walk tour? That is ridiculous. Why don't they open this opportunity to all the artists in Walla Walla and maybe squeeze in also the ones coming from Waitsburg, Dayton and Touchet? Mamma mia!
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