OUR READERS' OPINIONS - 10/24/10

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Enforce all codes equally?

Come now, City Council members. You folks were elected by us, the citizens of Walla Walla to represent us. I do like the idea of Walla Walla Municipal Codes being followed and enforced for all equally. Not! If we do refer an item to city staff, how long must we wait for answers?

All of the following examples are within a one-block radius of my home. Your city staff allowed a developer to tear up a paved city street to hook up to water, build two houses on two lots, sell the houses after receiving certificates of occupancy and walk away with a nice profit while leaving us taxpayers to fix and pay for the gravelly mess of a city street.

Drive the 400 block of Ankeny Street to verify.

But, don't turn left onto Discovery Drive. That is a private driveway, 572 feet long, that "shall not exceed four hundred feet" according to the city code. (19.30.060.B.2)

Apparently, you will be trespassing, even though the private driveway connects Wilbur Avenue and Ankeny Street.

When we downsized and bought our little house with some land, I asked planning department staff members if I could see the short plat for a development just northeast of our property so we could build the same. First, they said they couldn't find the file. Then, I was told "No, we'll never allow a development like that again."

How about applying and receiving a street and alley vacation only for building a church? (SV-01-02 and Ordinance 2003-18) Then, going to Development Services staff for a review and putting in six duplexes and two houses. Clear view triangle? Not required. Storm water management next to a creek in a critical aquifer recharge area? Never mind. Putting in a sewer stub as delineated on your short plat? Not a big deal.

I wondered why my neighbors were so cynical about our city officials and city staff.

Now, I understand.

A nice little money-saving tip. If you build a home in a developed neighborhood, you do not have to put in a sidewalk to connect with your neighbor's sidewalk if you don't extend your driveway past your private property line (per code enforcement staff).

These planning and development issues affect all citizens and future generations and the livability of Walla Walla much more than some purple paint on a storefront. Where else are city codes being selectively enforced?

Anyone else with problems with selective enforcement of city codes? Can we work together for positive change?

Bonnie Szuch

Walla Walla

Consider child's perspective

It is not often I find myself compelled to write a letter to the editor, but as my Facebook homepage buzzed this past week with differing opinions regarding the mural outside the Inland Octopus toy store, I decided to write.

What is art? A lot of the negativity surrounding the mural is opinions stating that "it is an eyesore," or "just plain ugly." So does ugly count as art? If so, who is responsible for making this determination of aesthetic beauty? Anything can be art.

Just because one person thinks the mural is ugly, it doesn't mean everyone else does. It's a mural on the faade of a toy store.

I view it from a whimsical approach, not as a contender against the work of Van Gogh or Davinci. Not everyone is going to like the giant octopus mural downtown, but does that mean the voices of the people who do appreciate it should be ignored?

I am also aware there are certain guidelines that are enforced in keeping with the historic accuracy of the downtown Walla Walla buildings.

I love downtown Walla Walla. I was born and raised here, and after traveling and seeing other towns and cities, I appreciate its historic beauty more than ever.

That being said, I was also a child in Walla Walla, and I know how limited the options can be for children growing up here in terms of attractions geared toward their age group. Especially with the inundation of wonderful wineries, tasting rooms and fine dining restaurants, our downtown has become even more marketed toward adults and the over-21 crowd than ever before.

As for my own opinion on the mural, I think it is an effective form of advertising for Inland Octopus. It is colorful, whimsical like a child's artwork, and is obviously an eye-catching conversation starter as has recently been made evident on Facebook and other public media forums.

The last thing Walla Walla needs is its residents attacking one of the small private businesses we pride ourselves on having in abundance, let alone one of the very few businesses we have catering to the children of the area.

Before you decide to let your opinions be known about the Inland Octopus mural, please take the time to put yourselves in another, much smaller pair of shoes - the shoes of a Walla Walla child.

Shauna Halley Walsh

Walla Walla

Dino Rossi's common sense needed

America is in real trouble. Congress has taxed and spent beyond the limits. It has borrowed a lot more and spent that, too. Now a $13 trillion debt has mortgaged our children and their children's future to the Chinese.

Clearly we must stop the out-of-control spending.

Patty Murray has been in office now for 18 years. She voted for the stimulus bills and various bailouts. As one of the top Senate tax writers she proudly admits she helped write the 2,600 page health-care bill. Patty's ads brag about her spending and condemn Dino Rossi for his spending cuts. That is what this election is all about.

In 2002, as chairman for the state Senate Ways and Means Committee, Dino Rossi is widely credited with closing the record-breaking $2.7 billion budget deficit without raising taxes. That is the kind of common sense frugality that is in real short supply in the U.S. Senate.

Vote to send Dino Rossi to D.C.

Stephen K. Peck

Walla Walla

John Turner is the clean fighter

I like to think I am an honest person, and, because of that, am prompted to write my second letter to the editor this year. I really think a severe wrong has been done.

I am writing in support of John Turner for sheriff of Walla Walla County. I really do believe he is the right fit for the job. He has not used the mudslinging tactics I see happening in this campaign. I know John Turner and his family only in a good light.

I question why this article or story had to be aired at around the same time as the November ballots were to be mailed out. Was this a coincidence?

I just do not understand why this campaign has had to take such a drastic, and, more importantly, perhaps almost tragic turn as this. I am not a politician, and do not care to ever be one, but please, no more sucker punches.

Let's try to keep the rest of this contest clean. My vote has to be in support of the clean fighter, the one whom I surely know will keep the battle fair.

Please vote for John Turner for sheriff. The muddy water is just becoming very clear. God bless us.

Don Hollnbaugh

Prescott

Octopus should move to Oregon

If I was Inland Octopus' owner I'd shut my doors and move. Come on over to Oregon. We'd love to have you, octopus mural and all.

What they should be taking out is the woman driving a covered wagon at Pioneer Park smoking a pipe.

Inland Octopus has a great following and your City Council needs to know that kids and families when they come to town to visit the octopus, they also spend money elsewhere.

It also beats the empty-blah buildings uptown.

If that's what your city councilmen think about kids and the octopus and forces them to take it down I won't be visiting Walla Walla uptown again.

They can have their wine and eateries and empty-blah buildings. I don't need them.

Linda Pratt

Milton-Freewater

Vote for Mark Frankin for sheriff

I was a reserve deputy for the Columbia County Sheriff's Office for over 10 years and I worked under three different sheriffs in that time. I remember that in the 2002 sheriff race that longtime resident and Under Sheriff Walt Hessler (actually acting sheriff due to Sheriff LaTour's illness) lost the election by a landslide to a virtual unknown candidate.

In 2006 Walt Hessler didn't file to run for sheriff but won the race as a write-in candidate, I always wondered if Columbia County elected the sheriff they really wanted or did they just get rid of the sheriff they knew they didn't want.

We've had four years to find out what we already knew in 2002; Walt isn't the best man for the job. Crime has gone up in our county every year since Sheriff Hessler took office. I don't understand why in these times of high gas prices and limited funds our Sheriff's Office has decided our officers need to be driving around in gas guzzling SUVs and full-size pickups?

As a parent of two school-age children, I don't understand the recent decision by Sheriff Hessler to not utilize a $70,000 RUAD grant that would have employed another Columbia County resident and benefited the youths of this community. The K-9 unit was one of the department's biggest assets and now it is gone.

I disagree with many of Hessler's decisions and feel the CCSO has lost ground under Hessler's reign and short of just being a good guy, nobody has come forward to boast of the sheriff's redeeming qualities.

As a reserve deputy I felt the CCSO was fortunate to have someone with Mark Franklin's experience and qualifications. He was our chief deputy and then he was promoted to captain and it was obvious to me Franklin was the most qualified deputy in the Sheriff's Office.

Franklin had very high standards and did an efficient and professional job keeping the deputies on task, he proof read every report and citation making sure they were completed properly before they were sent to the prosecutor.

It is his work ethic and attention to detail that has prepared Franklin to be our next sheriff. We all know Mark Franklin is intelligent, involved in our community and a nice guy.

Please vote for Mark Franklin for Columbia County sheriff.

Jerry Dedloff

Dayton

Are we going to elect same people?

Well it's almost time to vote again. I just wonder if the people will vote in the same old headache politicians they keep complaining about.

Sure seems odd so many Democrats are jumping ship at the White House and other places just to keep from drowning like the rest of the Democrats at this mid-term election.

I believe the present administration is only a one-term administration. I can't see anything being better than it was, since I lost retirement funds because of dishonesty in the financial market.

I just hope the voting public has better foresight than they had during the last degrading election. Too much mud-slinging going on. These type of people must have something to fear.

Irvin L. Powell

Milton-Freewater

Keep continuity in prosecutor's office

In support of Rea Culwell, I would like to clarify a few things and give you my opinion as someone who has lived in your community and has worked for three different county prosecutors here.

Many of these letters claim Ms. Culwell spends or earns too much money; let me set the record straight. Ms. Culwell does not set her salary, it is mandated by state law, and the county has not paid one dime more to Rea in salary since she started as your prosecutor.

Ms. Culwell has increased revenue to the county. Of the prosecutor's budget, approximately $200,000 is offset by these revenues and reimbursements. Ms. Culwell has also cut her budget, spending less on travel, etc., to help the county balance its budget.

Rea Culwell is the best candidate for this position. This job takes a special person to do it correctly. You have to be able to balance the rights of the defendant as well as the victim.

I think it would be difficult to come from a position of a career defense attorney who persecutes victims and law enforcement on behalf of defendants to switch hats and now protect those same victims and prosecute those same defendants.

Law enforcement and victims are crucial to any criminal case and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. I also believe something the Prosecutor's Office has been missing the last eight years is continuity.

In eight years there have been three different prosecutors. Every time you make such a significant change, it takes several years to get things working efficiently again.

You can't just step into this job and begin as if you have been doing it for 30 years - it just doesn't work that way. These changes cost the county money it cannot afford. Every time a new prosecutor steps into office, you are starting over.

The bottom line is we are very lucky to have Rea Culwell as our prosecutor and it would be a big mistake to let her go. Rea is a compassionate and fair prosecutor.

I am privileged to have been her assistant for the last four years. Please, consider giving Rea Culwell your vote for prosecuting attorney and keep the continuity of this office to make Columbia County a good place for its citizens, and a bad place for criminals.

Julie Karl

Dayton

Randy Lewis has 33 years experience

Dayton's political forum was packed with interested citizens desiring to select the best candidate for Columbia County.

Walt Hessler so graciously expressed no grudge or animosity and forgiveness to his opponent. Perhaps it's time to pull up the campaign signs with a 66 to 33 percent in the primary election and join in the pursuit of fighting the recent crime wave in Dayton.

I observed when Mr. Lewis began speaking, with dignity, respect, experience and maturity he would add to the court as a constitutional prosecuting attorney. His speech was rewarded with the most enthusiastic response of the evening.

Rea Culwell started her speech by recalling talking to Mayor Don Jackson four years ago about the unopposed position and as an unknown lawyer from out of town, she could run and win.

Randy Lewis fell in love with Dayton as so many have. It started 29 years ago upon visiting relatives and has established many friends and acquaintances since. Randy's love for community by bringing his 33 years of experience compared to Rea Culwell's seven years and to run with his credentials and expertise as prosecuting attorney rather than going into early retirement.

Another distinguished gentleman and former prosecuting attorney did exactly the same thing upon returning to his beloved Dayton when he saw the need.

This day and age it's essential and honorable to see a few good men stand up and be patriotic enough to service our country when retirement would be the easy way out.

Please vote for Randy Lewis as prosecuting attorney.

Gary Lowe

Dayton

Octopus in handcuffs!

With all the budget problems facing the Walla Walla City Council you'd think a simple octopus would slip by. No sir!

Making sure that small business suffers the same as the Costco group and any other large group of tax earners trying to help the city. How dare they try and promote income.

Why would they want that? We'll just raise taxes on property and sales once again. A big sign of a wine bottle I'm sure would have been approved. But I guess the big octopus was too much a threat to society. A toy store, heaven forbid!

John Crane

College Place

Closing Aviary is mistake in judgment

Having to trim the city of Walla Walla budget to accommodate decreased revenues is certainly a daunting task. But to address the temporary shortfall with a permanent closure of the Aviary would be a mistake in judgment.

The Aviary is one of the city services where the people of Walla Walla get the most bang for the buck for increasing the livability of their home town, and also makes the city more attractive to visitors.

A huge investment of money and heart has already been made by donors. Repairs and maintenance are relatively small compared to the other services. I believe it decreases future investors and donors in our city when they see we cannot keep a good thing going.

Although the city's plan is to dismantle the Aviary gradually, section by section, I believe we do not need another sign of failure and aesthetic neglect similar to the Blue Mountain Mall. I know there must be a way we can keep our beautiful Aviary.

I ask for businesses and citizens to voice their disapproval of closing the Aviary to the city manager while the budget is still in process.

Sharon K. Schiller

Walla Walla

Culwell is the only choice

Rea Culwell is the only choice for Columbia County. I have worked with Rea in Columbia County both as full- time deputy and reserve deputy. Rea is a very good prosecutor and takes offenders to court, which is a big plus.

She was always willing to help when I had questions and assisted me with search warrants. Columbia County residents would take five steps back if they don't re-elect her. Most of the negative letters written about Rea are from people she prosecuted. Go figure.

Steve Harris

Walla Walla

Culwell prosecutes hard cases

I endorse Rea Culwell for re-election as Columbia County prosecutor. Rea is experienced, knows Washington law, and is respected by her fellow attorneys.

I am impressed by her willingness to prosecute hard cases.

Roughly 90 percemt of all criminal cases are resolved through some sort of plea agreement or other pre-trial disposition, and the remaining cases are almost always the difficult ones.

We need prosecutors like Rea who aren't afraid to ethically take on and try those cases, and who won't just wait for ones they are certain to win. It sets the bar for how the other 90 percemt are handled.

Tim Donaldson

Walla Walla

Monahan Hood has qualities to be judge

I have known Bridie Monahan Hood for over 40 years and I am pleased to endorse her for the Walla Walla County part-time District Court judge position.

She is an intelligent and highly competent professional. Bridie is a good communicator, has excellent listening skills and is able to handle complex information.

Beyond her intelligence, professional success and commitment to hard work, Bridie possesses the quality I see as the most important for an attorney or judge. She interacts effectively with people.

I urge you to vote for Bride Monahan Hood.

Joanne Martin

Chico, Calif.

Walla Walla has more than wine

I debate about the Octopus Mural as it hit Seattle news. I think this is great and the mural should stay. It might bring more tourism to Walla Walla and we all know we need all the help we can get to bring money into the area.

The mural brings character to downtown Walla Walla. I had out of town company this weekend and they think the mural should stay and it is a great store to shop in with all the variety of items.

Walla Walla does have more than wine.

Donna Carr

Walla Walla

Consider a write-in for sheriff

With all of the "hoopla" going back and forth regarding the election for sheriff, I can't decide who to vote for so I am suggesting a write-in candidate for everyone to consider.

I think that you should write in "Michelle Conner" for sheriff on your ballots and here are my reasons:

a) She has never missed an episode of Starsky and Hutch or CHiPs (because of Erik Estrada).

b) She has all the great sheriff lines from Blazing Saddles memorized.

c) She would look fabulous in those knee-high riding boots the motorcycle cops wear.

I hope this will help other voters who are having a difficult time making their decision.

Dakota Shannon Smith

Walla Walla

No Social Security bonus

Tuesday's U-B carried an article on page A10, "Dems make pitch for Social Security bonus." What are the Dynamic Trio - Obama, Pelosi and Reid - thinking of!

Proposing to give Social Security recipients (I am one) a one time payment of $250 at a cost of $14-15 billion when we already have a federal debt of over $12 trillion. House and Senate, don't you dare pass this!

I don't want Social Security recipients to start receiving blame for the increasing debt our Democratic president and Congress are creating.

We are not suffering from a money problem but rather "a spending problem" - all the more reason I will not vote for Sen. Patty Murray. And if you are concerned about the rising debt I urge you to vote against any incumbent who has voted for the numerous costly spending programs Congress has passed the last several months, i.e., Obamacare.

If this one-time payment of $250 is passed, I will not accept the check, it will be mailed back to the government or given to a local charity that helps the needy.

David Conklin

College Place

Octopus situation tough to grasp

Let me see if I understand this correctly. The city of Walla Walla has budget problems and will likely lay off at least 23 employees in large part because citizens, unable to find what they want in Walla Walla, buy elsewhere.

And the city is offsetting its shortfall by fining a good business, the Inland Octopus, $100 a day because it had the audacity to make the city more shopper friendly.

Tom A. Williams

Walla Walla

Sen. Murray, fiscal conservative?

The U-B editors have, in recent years, positioned themselves as fiscal conservatives critical of pork-barrel spending and skyrocketing federal deficits driven by local and special interests.

So their recent endorsement of Sen. Patty Murray seemed incredible, especially since they justified it on one single criterion: The senator's success in bringing federal (deficit) funding to the local district.

Ironically, the editors' endorsement of big-government, big-spending Sen. Murray illustrates for us precisely how the pork and debt cycle works. It seems as long as the local programs are popular, and of course they always are, the politician gets reelected, tough budget talk notwithstanding.

Essentially the senator is issued a mandate by her interest groups to continue plundering the treasury.

Then, in an even more bizarre twist, the editors, apparently trying to assuage their guilt, seek to portray the senator as fiscally responsible. Laughably, they claim "She understands the need to reduce federal spending."

As evidence to support this bizarre claim, they cite her vote to "slash" a whopping $14 billion out of President Obama's budget request. Let's see, putting that into perspective, the heroic senator voted to "slash" less than .4 percent from the bloated federal budget. This amounts to about 1 percent of the $1.3 trillion of additional debt she and her associates charged this year alone to the accounts of future taxpayers.

To prevent this kind of systematic, hard-core plunder of the people's wealth, the founders strictly defined and limited the federal powers to tax and spend. Today these powers remain few and defined and are still plainly written into the Constitution.

Our elected officials still swear an oath to uphold them, though most ignore or despise them. The Founders, understanding human nature, instituted these limitations to ensure the "general welfare" was not sacrificed to spending philosophies driven by local interests, short-sighted political objectives, centralized statist control schemes, or the emotionalism that has so characterized Sen. Murray's career.

Sen. Murray and other establishment socialists consider these limitations outdated and believe they have the wisdom and right to spend others' wealth on whatever makes them feel good.

Our surging national debt is evidence to the evils of this type of spending philosophy and the urgent need to rediscover and reassert strict constitutional limitations on the ability of politicians and their interest groups to plunder the wealth of future generations.

Lorne Blackman

Walla Walla

Turner is best man for job

I have been employed by the Walla Walla Sheriff's Office for the last 17 years.

First and foremost I hate politics and all the nastiness it brings out in people. I will stand by my principles and not bash Bill White as I like him as a person and will never speak ill of him. I only wish others could adhere to the same.

When I learned Sheriff Humphreys was going to retire I sought out John Turner to see what he would have to offer this county. I met with him early this year and was impressed not only by his vision but by his passion for law enforcement and giving back to the community.

He has three main focuses on crime prevention. He wants to combat the ever-growing gang issues, bring back a K-9 program at no cost to the taxpayers and most importantly, provide 24-hour coverage, that this county currently does not have.

As taxpayers you deserve to have immediate service when you need it. You should not have to wait hours for it or have it provided by another agency just because no one is on duty. That is not what you pay for. You work hard and pay for services that should be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

While it is understandable that some people fear change because of the unknown, it is necessary for growth.

Just because it has always been done one way does not mean it is the best way.

John not only brings a wealth of knowledge and personal experience, he brings a fresh perspective and the ability to think outside the box.

I hope you as tax-paying citizens of this county would want the best man for the job.

John Turner is that man.

Chuck Humphreys

Walla Walla

Yes, let's protect our way of life

The octopus has got to go. We can't have it in Walla Walla County. It wasn't born here, and it didn't have the permission of the good ol' boys to be painted on that wall.

It has eight tentacles and we only allow four appendages here. What if it brings friends from the ocean to live here, maybe squid, lobsters, crabs - there's no telling what next?

If it's a good octopus, why didn't it stay in the ocean with like octopi? We liked that bare, boring white wall because we were used to it.

It had stood there, boring, and never moved for many years. Lots of people said they'd never even noticed it before the octopus came to town.

Now people look at the octopus and they smile; it makes them feel good, especially the children. They might come to care more about their jobs and their lives, and try harder. We can't have that!

We want things the way they've always been. That bare wall had stood the test of time. That octopus may have skeletons in its closet, even though the best oceanographers looked and looked and couldn't find anything wrong. That octopus stands for really bad stuff: Webster's Dictionary says octopus could also mean "something likened to an octopus, such as a person of far-reaching influence."

We can't tolerate that! That wall's never made a difference before, and we sure can't let it now. What if it prompted other artwork on boring, empty walls?

That octopus could bring octopus thoughts to town; eight tentacles could do way too much work at once. We like our snails; they go really slow and never change.

Of course, we do have sharks moving in here, and the octopus has fought them off before. But it didn't kill all the sharks in the ocean, so obviously it's incompetent.

To protect our way of life, that octopus has got to go! Suppose that octopus found octopus ways to keep children happy and away from the sharks. We can never allow that. The octopus has got to go.

Lacey Mercer

Walla Walla

Octopus reason to go downtown

Rumor has it the city is giving Inland Octupus a hard time about the mural it now has outside its building. I am wondering why, with the economy being what it is, you would give a local business such a hard time.

I love this store. Every trip I make to College Place includes a trip into Walla Walla for an expedition to find toys for my wonderful grandkids. It has become a tradition for my mom and me to go downtown and shop and when I get back home to Medford my grandkids are so excited to see what I have brought back for them.

I would hate to see this business have to move because, honestly, that is the reason for me to go downtown. Along the way I do stop at other places to spend my tourist dollars but I will be looking for Inland Octpus where ever it may be. Please give them a break.

Cheryl Hidy

Medford

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