OUR READERS' OPINIONS - 10/31/10

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City should take stand on mall mess

The Walla Walla City Council held a public meeting about the Inland Octopus paint job and the lack of a permit for such a painting on Main Street. All but one spoke in favor of Inland Octopus, so the City Council lost courage to do what they intended to do.

Instead of doing their job in the Council meeting, Council members told city staff to do their dirty work. The city manager likewise refused the job, blaming out-of-town commitments. He punted to the support services director who was filling in as acting city manager.

The acting city manager levied a fine for no permit and daily fines until the sign is removed. How many people believe the acting city manager made this decision? Does he have legal authority to levy fines on anyone? I'm sure he was doing what he was told to do by the City Council and/or the city attorney.

The fearless City Council made an unelected city employee take the blame for an unpopular decision. The City Council should man-up or ship-out.

I don't know the business owner but I'm happy he decided to fight back.

This painting isn't nearly the eyesore on Main Street as the yellow-fronted establishment just up the street a few doors or the music/electronics store on upper Main Street with its front windows almost filled with signs. I haven't heard criticism from the City Council about those establishments.

Maybe the business owner should paint over any words on the painting and put all advertising only on the front windows.

If the painting of the octopus had shown the octopus holding a wine goblet on one of its arms, it probably would have been declared a masterful piece of art for Main Street.

It's disturbing when the City Council displays toughness with small businesses whom it thinks will not fight back because of financial restrictions.

Why doesn't the City Council use the same toughness to fight the mall owners on Popular Street who have left an unsightly mess for years that far exceeds any perceived painting problem on Main Street? Why not charge the mall owners $1,000 per day until their mess is cleaned up? That makes more sense then the much-to-do-about-nothing on Main Street.

Do we need more reasons why new businesses locate in College Place? I think not.

Vern Filan

Walla Walla

Greenwood goes above and beyond

Vote for Richard Greenwood for Walla Walla County coroner.

If you want a honest to the core, 100 percent responsible, reliable, dependable, compassionate kind of person.

Vera and I have had personal experience witnessing the integrity that this person has.

When our son, Dylan, was injured in a car accident, Richard went above and beyond in helping our family and our son get our lives back on track.

He has our support out of Oregon. Richard will go beyond to help the people in need.

Doug Worsech

Umapine

Romine is correct choice for coroner

Virginia Romine, a nurse to be coroner:

We live on a very busy highway, U.S. Highway 12 West, on which there have been numerous fatal accidents.

One of the most indelible accidents happened when a vehicle carrying six Walla Walla College students collided with two couples with their two little girls. A nurse happened to be proximate to the scene, and proved to be of great value by carefully checking for vital signs and helping/comforting a critically injured little girl before she was to be transported to a hospital.

Our dying or lost loved ones deserve to be thoughtfully cared for with dignity and respect. We need a coroner who is experienced with this, and has a keen understand of loss, and grieving families.

Virginia Romine would be that coroner, as she is an experienced nurse! She is clearly the correct choice for coroner.

Barbara Pierce

Touchet

Reject madness of Bush years

As we prepare to fill out our ballots, the party of "no" shows more of its true colors.

Mr. Rossi rails against earmarks that Sen. Murray has secured for Washington and claims he is not in favor of them. However, when Mr. Rossi was in the state Senate, he did not have any such qualms about using the equivalent, called "Locally Targeted Investments."

These targets were anonymous in the budget process, so we'll never know if the $600,000 to build a dock in his old district was a Rossi earmark or not. We know about the earmarks from Sen. Murray since she must sign off on them and post it to her website.

The party of "no" continues to castigate the stimulus bill in public, claiming there has not been one job created through this. There's ample evidence of the job creation and these same nay-sayers write letters to agencies (lettermarks) requesting funds for their districts and constituents citing the jobs that would be created from using these funds.

Among these are Sens. McCain and McConnell, as well as Rep. Bachmann. Even our representative, Rep. McMorris Rodgers, touts the $35 million she secured fro the North-South Freeway in Spokane in the stimulus bill she voted against. I am also concerned she has agreed with the "birthers" in agreeing there seems to be some question as to the citizenship of our president.

I just can't believe the short memories of our citizens are displaying. Our financial mess was due to a lack of regulations and oversight of the big banks. The reform bill passed the House and sat in the Senate for almost a year because the party of "no" says we didn't need it.

Extending the tax cuts for the middle class is dead in the Senate because the party of "no" wants it to apply to the richest one percent of the country. They have stopped unemployment benefits saying they must be paid for ahead of time, yet have no suggestions on funding the $4 trillion in deficits the tax cuts for the rich will cost.

This deficit seems to be fine with them. Unnoticed is the vote Sen. Murray cast to reduce taxes in the middle class that President Obama proposed. You should have noticed this on last year's tax return.

I urge each and every one of you to vote for Sen. Murray in this election. Reject the return to madness we had for eight years.

Roger Benson

Walla Walla

Sen. Patty Murray is doing her job

I have come to the conclusion that there are those who do not like Sen. Murray. It is their right, and they should vote as they see fit.

However, to vilify the senator for doing exactly that for which she was elected is unconscionable. It is true that she belongs to the political party that controls the White House and has the majority in both houses of Congress.

However, these same people complaining about that apparently have forgotten that for the eight years of the Bush tyranny his party controlled them (except the senate for the last two years) plus the Supreme Court, and that it was out of this Republican governing that the failed policies which caused our massive "recession" came.

It was stated in a letter on Oct. 18 that the Obama administration, with Sen. Murray's assistance, was "responsible for more than tripling the debt they inherited from President Bush." I have no idea from which talk show the writer was fed that information, but it is nowhere near accurate. At the beginning of the Clinton Administration (1993) the national debt was about $4.2 trillion. At the beginning of the Bush administration (2001) it was about $5.7 trillion. When President Obama took office (2009) it was sitting at $10.7 trillion.

Last Wednesday it was about 13.7 trillion. I realize it has risen, but to say it has tripled, or that the current administration has caused the problem, is ludicrous. Don't tinkle in my shoe and tell me it's raining.

Anthony Marks

Walla Walla

Vote ‘no' on I-1098, state income tax

As an owner of a small family business, I am very concerned what an income tax will do to all small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. These businesses make up 96 percent of all businesses in Washington and provide jobs for 41 percent of the state workforce.

Small businesses are frequently organized as "S" corporations and therefore report business income on their personal income tax forms. This would mean that the income tax created by Initiative 1098 would function as a direct tax on certain businesses.

Some small businesses would be double taxed as they would pay B&O tax and then be taxed again as the business owner reports business income on his personal federal IRS form.

By taxing the small business owner, jobs will be cut or new jobs will not be filled. The economic growth in the state will slow. Please join me in saying No to I-1098. This is not a tax on the rich.

Sandra Richardson

Walla Walla

The Center at Park taking unnecessary risk

I was taken aback when I read in the Sunday Union-Bulletin that the Center at the Park (the local senior citizen's center) with a 2008 budget of around $682,000, 86 percent of which went out in member services, had donated $55,000 to the Pioneer Park Aviary. It turns out that it was a $55,000 surety bond, a guarantee that if the city does not obtain that much in funding and donations then the Center will pay the difference. Still, a surety bond is a definite financial commitment not to be taken lightly.

This assistance to the city is a questionable use of the resources of the Center, whose purpose as stated in their 2008 bylaws is "To develop and coordinate communitywide programs of social services, employment, health, recreation and education for members." Membership is open to anyone over age 50. Consider these points:

An aviary is of little direct benefit to most seniors. I suspect it is only an occasional diversion for the few who do visit it. Certainly there are other programs which will benefit a greater number of seniors.

The Center should not interfere in the city budget "chopping block" process by offering financial support for one use over all others. Let the city decide the best use of taxpayer money. Support for the aviary distorts the relative worth of community programs toward a use which may not be economically justifiable.

The Center has a good reputation within the community. Its fund-raising events receive strong support from local merchants and individuals. These supporters are confident that the proceeds from these events are going to benefit seniors. This confidence may be shaken when supporters hear that the Center is using its financial resources to back causes and projects not directly benefiting seniors.

The Center has no business in guaranteeing receipts for another organization. This is not one of their purposes for being in existence. Their focus should be seniors. They have enough to do providing services to their membership.

The board members of The Center at the Park should be cautioned to make financial decisions on the stated purposes of their own organization. They should fund programs which benefit a wide range of seniors.

A surety bond is a sure thing for the receiver of the bond but not the issuer. The Center's board of directors are taking an unnecessary risk with funds donated for the benefit of seniors. As my friend Joe said during lunch at the Center Tuesday, "If the city does not reach its $50,000 goal, then the Center might have to eat crow."

Don Long

Walla Walla

How about a compromise on octopus mural?

It's apparent the toy store mural situation will not resolve itself to the satisfaction of many.

The city codes are not specific enough to state what a sign is or if it can be considered art and they're somewhat vague about how size and colors should be incorporated. The city should concede this and allow the mural to stay.

On the other hand, Bob Catsiff was told on several occasions that his design plan would not be approved, yet he proceeded anyway.

Perhaps a compromise can be reached in that the city will withdraw the daily fines and in return, Bob Catsiff works with the city to reconstruct the mural in a way that fits in more with current city codes.

Perhaps cropping the mural so that it is not as large and toning down some of the colors?

Mark Spinks

Walla Walla

Rea Culwell is fair and compassionate

Lately there have been a several letters to the editor from members of a family in Starbuck who do not want Rea Culwell re-elected.

If you are new to the county or don't know that family their letters make it sound like Rea is out to get them. But once you find out all the facts you will see that is not so.

Enough is enough. Rea is fair, she is compassionate and she is a much better attorney than Lewis.

Her win record is above state average while her budget is below state average. Lewis is not allowed to be a public defender in Columbia County for over charging and his win record is way under 18 percent when dealing with Washington law.

I think maybe he should take some courses as obviously Louisiana law and Washington law are different.

Brittany Cooper

Dayton

Octopus mural spreads joy to children

Do you remember what it was like to walk into a toy store for the first time?

I'm sure you have an idea of the little spindles and the multi-colored action figures. Now think if you never had that chance, never got to walk in and have your heart fill with joy.

This is the toy store your sons and daughters and grandchildren find so fascinating. This is the one experience that may end because of the ridiculous fine imposed by the city.

A small business like this can't bear the burden of fines! Inland Octopus adds flavor and wonder to downtown Walla Walla. It has a very positive effect on the downtown area.

What a shame if Inland Octopus appeared as a gray, dull shop on the outside while it's such a great shop on the inside. Without the epic mural of what its real message is; to spread joy into the hearts of little kids, and at the same time adults can enjoy the view, it would be just a sign.

Sadly, a toy store would be robbed of its pride. I hope our city officials take heart and prevent the tragedy and the death of a magnificent creation. Fellow city men, children, and elders, please save the octopus!

Paul Betts

Walla Walla

Let's focus on real concerns of Walla Walla

I was so thrilled to read the recent article about the wonderful monetary donation of The Center at the Park donation to the Pioneer Park Aviary! What a blessing for residents of our area, as well as for our tourist population!

When you consider that seniors are the ones who are on fixed incomes, this is a great example for the rest of us. This shows what can be done when we look outside ourselves and our own lives to find ways to help this community, whether by volunteering or contributing some of our hard-earned money.

It is so easy to criticize or divide, but it is far more effective to come together as a community and make it better.

As for the Inland Octopus, I am excited and proud to have such a unique store in Walla Walla. Such a fun store, and I do not have any kids! It is so trivial to attack the poor purple, adorable, octopus, instead of applauding the super artistic creativity that presents itself and adds such personality to our already welcoming downtown.

Obviously, we respect the need for rules and regulations. When I attended the City Council meeting, I could definitely hear both sides. What troubles me is the adversarial atmosphere that has been generated since then.

It is interesting how much publicity this has generated outside of Walla Walla, but I can only hope that it generates positive publicity. I believe that we need to focus on the real concerns of this town, and not cause diversions such as this to divide us.

Lanetta Romero

Walla Walla

Every word of Davis column enjoyed

I am sorry there is an occasional reader who doesn't appreciate the column by Don Davis in the Wednesday paper. When I find an article of no interest to me I just pass over it, and others have that same privilege.

I enjoy the humanly descriptive antics of Nora and Mr. Davis's surprising (to him) little accidents along the trails. On Wednesdays I turn to Mr. Davis's column first thing and enjoy every word.

Alice M. Follett

Walla Walla

Give generously to United Way

Passions run deep in the Walla Walla Valley. Letters to the editor prove that most every day.

It seems that, regardless of political views, the people of our Valley care deeply about our community. One way we join in bringing passion and care together to accomplish the practical, common-sense good things we desire for the community is through United Way.

The fall campaign goal, relying on our generosity, is to raise over $420,000 that will be targeted to improve the lives of children in need, families in distress, recovery from local disasters as well as illness and addiction, and opportunities for better health and good living for all of us.

It all happens through the combined and coordinated efforts of the United Way and its sixteen partner agencies. If you want to know more, check out the United Way website: wwwunitedwayww.org.

When asked to give, please give generously.

Steven E. Woolley

Walla Walla

City is being mean spirited

The law.

Is it for our benefit or is it for government officials' benefit? Is it rigid or flexible? It seems to me the city officials consider the law very rigid. The police have lots to work with that way.

The intent of the law: Is it hazardous, dangerous or just a nuisance? Who does it protect? Our liberties are being trashed.

If there be no harm done by a humorous piece of art, then let us laugh and enjoy it.

I think the city is being mean spirited.

Ralph Miller

Walla Walla

We must help homeless children

I was dismayed Sunday morning to read there are 150 homeless kids in the county according to a recent count, with almost 100 of them in the city of Walla Walla. That's shocking!

One of the articles describing this sad situation quoted individuals connected to the Walla Walla school system. However, it is clear from the other stories in the series that additional leadership will need to be involved to reduce this number.

Where were the emergency shelter providers in that story, or the social service case workers, or the elected officials, or the religious leaders, or the philanthropic organizations?

Your excellent in-depth coverage of this issue made it obvious that many more sectors of our community will have to be engaged collaboratively to take on this heartbreaking challenge.

I encourage the many good people of Walla Walla who care about our children's wellbeing to put your heads together to develop a solution. Having 150 kids in our county without a stable place to find comfort and security at night is 150 too many.

Noah Leavitt

Walla Walla

Octopus flap is just a ploy

The ability of the Walla Walla City Council and staff to grasp the severity of the city's financial difficulties and take the step they have taken to create an influx of revenue is without precedence! (With the possible exception of accepting the pipe-smoking woman in the covered wagon.)

Imagine what our downtown would be like if not for their ability to recognize an opportunity and capitalize on it! I am referring, of course, to the Council and staff's insight when they decided to challenge the octopi murals on the front and back faades of the Inland Octopus toy store!

Rather than just ignore the paintings and letting them fade into obscurity, becoming a footnote of interest to our residents, they had the foresight to challenge the store's owner, thereby creating enough notoriety throughout the Northwest, if not the nation, to attract attention of inestimable value to the struggling economy of Walla Walla!

I'm convinced this whole issue was contrived in a once smoke-filled back room of City Hall by our astute Council to attract visitors and their discretionary dollars to the downtown marketplace.

It would be interesting to see the sales tax revenue figures for the several months prior to and following this brilliantly contrived strategy! Keep up the good work Walla Walla City Council and staff! Whatever will you think of to top this?

Robert L. Stevenson

Waitsburg

Tax cuts, war and ‘T' people

Tax cuts. I'm for tax cuts.

I really like those "T" people. They seem like their especially fond of tax cuts and program cuts.

These are the folks who want to do away with Social Security, Medicare, and a host of programs that help people.

I'm hoping they will get on my band wagon as we ask the federal government for our tax money back from eight years of war and to pare its war machine back in size from XXXL down to regular size.

I love supersize as much as the next guy, but you know obesity kills. It can be awful hard to digest a super size aircraft carrier or three.

The reader asks - "What would you do with those trillions of dollars when they come back?" That's when I would reply, "I'm still thinking on it."

Let's see, we only have 100 million people, give or take a few, without access to mental or physical care here in the promised land. Some people are going back to the ways of our ancestors and hating people for the color of their skin or their religion or they hit the Super Lotto jackpot and do both.

Ten out of 100 people are without a pay check. Our cities, counties and states infrastructure is falling apart. People are losing faith in our government, which naturally progresses to a potential for civil unrest.

Oh, I just remembered what the name was of some those "T" people in the old days. "Termites." You know those pesky little bugs that chew up and ruin structures and then leave, never to return and fix the damage they have wrought upon us all.

Steven Rusch

Walla Walla

Time to cut US military budget

I hope our federal government will look at Britain's new military austerity plan and be inspired. The British government is cutting its defense budget by eight percent in an effort to reduce the country's crippling debt.

In 2009, 33 percent of U.S. tax dollars went to fund the Pentagon and related agencies. Imagine how our lives would change if eight percent of the money were invested in programs that brought jobs, health care and income security to our communities!

For too long, military contractors have argued that Pentagon spending should be off-limits when balancing the budget. That mindset has to change. Why should defense contractors be spared when the rest of the U.S. population is suffering? If we keep cutting only the domestic budget, there won't be anything left to defend.

McMorris Rodgers, Murray, Cantwell and all our other officials in Washington, D.C., need to focus on cutting the defense budget. Our government must stop pouring money into failed war strategies and start investing in our communities at home. It's time to demand economic security, not the false promise of military security.

It is wrong to sacrifice the working class, the elderly and the sick just to line the pockets of defense contractors - especially considering that the bombs they build have brought us neither peace nor security.

Annie Capestany

Walla Walla

Leave Inland Octopus alone

Who else is tired of the attack on the Inland Octopus toy store?

In my lifetime, I have met many people who want to hurt happy people. The mural is a happy mural, and I'm sure it makes the children smile. Every day I ride the bus to college I smile at the beautiful mural.

I don't know the store owner, but I don't agree with the evil being done to this owner. We live in a world where very unhappy people feel they have to hurt other people in order for them to feel happiness.

Do they really feel that happiness? No. It is time people need to examine themselves and their own souls, and for them to act with kindness towards others. Believe me; being kind towards others can bring greater rewards! Be someone with true value, and not someone valueless.

I love this town, and I have met a lot of kind people. I have also met many evil ones as well. I leave them all behind in my dust. Do you like to be blinded by dust?

Instead of the evil ones worrying about something so petty in life, try worrying about the more important things going on around you. What about your neighbor who is beating his wife or child, or the drug dealer who lives down the street? What about the young ones running around with a gun or knife in their back pocket, or the thieves stealing from others and hurting them?

Try worrying about your relationship with your creator, and your families, and finding that love for yourself again, or maybe finding love for yourself for the first time in your life. You will know only then, what true happiness is all about, and you will leave the unnecessary things alone.

You will find peace of mind, and you will love others like we all should do. You will act with kindness, and you will stop being hateful, uptight and cruel. Leave the Inland Octopus alone! Get on with your life! I love you all, and will pray for your hearts to change for the good that is in all of you.

Charlotte Mercado

Walla Walla

Davis columns of highest qualitiy

Recently someone wrote criticizing Don Davis and his writing. I would like to counter this thinking and share the belief that Don Davis' writing and columns are of the highest quality and that they provide some of the most readable material in the newspaper.

When Sadie, the dalmatian, died, it was as though we had lost a member of the family. When Nora, the schnauzer, became his companion and fellow explorer we wondered how she could ever replace Sadie. Not that Sadie will ever be replaced, but Nora is a trooper.

When we read Don's and Nora's adventures it makes want to get in the car and go visit the many beautiful areas which surround us. We would urge anyone who does not find their adventures outstanding to not read them. For anyone who has not "gone on a trip" vicariously with Don and Nora to do so and enjoy.

Douglas Fleischer

Walla Walla

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