OUR READERS' OPINIONS - 04/17/11

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Trust us' not good enough for caffeine article

Regarding the "editor's notes" that have preceded several articles on caffeine recently.

First, let me say I don't know the actual author. Never met him. Don't know anything about him. So this letter is not directed at him or his point of view in any way.

This "editor's note" preceding the articles about caffeine assures the readers that documentation for the following opinions actually does exist. But (a big but) it is in a pile 2 inches thick. The implication I got was that either my mind was too small or my attention span too short to be "bothered with the details."

The condescension of "don't you bother your pretty little head with facts" came through to me loud and clear.

If a paper of that sort had been turned in to my rural Mississippi high school without proper footnotes showing the reader exactly where the supporting data existed, it would have received an "F."

The caffeine issue is important. It is hypocritical for society to rail against individuals who manipulate their energy level with cocaine to the extent that they throw them in jail, but contend that their one percent to 10 percent approximation of that same behavior with caffeine has no similarities.

Caffeine has powerful metabolic effects that range from promoting breakdown of sugar stores to promoting intracellular transport of metabolic substrates. The medical issues of caffeine are complex, and the data conflicting. How can the author possibly say, "We won't give you the references so that you can read the experiments for yourselves. Trust us?" I don't think so.

Karl Eckhardt

Walla Walla

Restaurant owner went beyond donation

Bob Parish, owner of the Back Stage Bistro, recently made us aware of how much love and support there is in our community.

Our daughter is struggling with breast cancer along with complications and setbacks. We are thankful to have that part behind us and see her doing better now.

Some of her friends began raising funds to help with the bills that never stop. Her friend Michelle approached Bob for a donation. He offered to take it a step further. He opened his restaurant and donated the food on a Sunday afternoon for a benefit luncheon for her.

When his staff heard of what he was doing they insisted on coming in and donating their time to help with the luncheon. None of them even knew her.

He also opened it up to other community members and businesses to donate items for a silent auction. It was almost overwhelming and extremely heart warming to see the turnout.

My husband, Bud, and I have hearts overflowing with appreciation for Bob and his staff, each one who donated and all who came out and participated in the fun-loving afternoon. Along with all of her lovely friends who have put so much time, love, support and work into this whole ordeal. We appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts.

Maxine Brookins

College Place

What has happened to common sense?

Washington state is complaining about its $5 billion budget shortfall and trying to find places to cut. It is cutting important items.

Then you see the state Recreation and Conservation Office in Olympia is going to give the Walla Walla Gun Club $100,000 to assist in building its new facility. That's nice, but how about doing that when the budget is full?

We common folk have to wait to get wanted items until we have extra money. I'm sure the Walla Walla Gun Club needs to have new facilities since it's been there since 1949, but maybe another year or two would be more appropriate until funding is available and no other budget cuts are needed.

I would think it is very difficult to justify that recreational $100,000 (even though it's just a drop in the budget bucket) to important programs that are being cut that are really needy.

As I said in a letter months ago, each government group, be it federal, state, county, city has to look at each expenditure over and over to see if it justifies from other programs. If these elected officials can't do that, we have an opportunity at election time to do it. Let's try to bring back some common sense.

Phyllis Garvas

Walla Walla

Don't let history be lost

There is a small cemetery south of Walla Walla named Pioneer Bowlus cemetery that has fallen into disrepair. This burial ground is a small but very powerful piece of the Valley's history.

Linda Hall of the city of Milton-Freewater says the grounds lay within the area of the cemetery taxation district, but its responsibility is disputed by Cemetery District Board Chairman Verne Rodighiero.

While no one steps up to the responsibility, the names on the markers are becoming worn, and some of the people who settled this area are becoming anonymous and forgotten.

Although I have (temporarily) moved away from Walla Walla, this area is a very important place to me, and I believe our history should be treasured and cared for. If you can encourage the city and the cemetery taxation district to come together to take this small but worthwhile project, or if a small group can be formed to take care of this land, the area would be better off for your time.

Mike Swyter

Jennings Lodge, Ore.

UW has been smart about cutting costs

In your April 7 editorial, "UW needs better ideas than cuts of in-state students," you deplore the fact that all the bright people at the university can't come up with a better solution than trying to generate more revenue from nonresident students as the state slashes our budget.

You seem to ignore the fact the House budget proposal would result in the UW losing over half of its state appropriation to budget cuts. That's a loss of over $200 million per year.

In losing $100 million this year, we cut nearly 1,000 jobs and eliminated 14 degree programs. Ninety percent of our instructional budget is spent on people: We have fewer instructors, fewer advisers, fewer administrators, fewer staff, fewer custodians, less of everything.

More cuts will result in another 500 jobs being cut, fewer instructors with classes getting even larger, courses being dropped, students taking longer to graduate. We have reduced spending, by the ton.

You also mention that tuition has gone up. In inflation-adjusted dollars, today we are spending almost exactly what we spent 20 years ago to educate a student, and this during a time when expenditures on technology have been immense and unavoidable.

The reason tuition has risen is simple: There has been a dramatic shift in who pays for college.

Twenty years ago, the state paid 80 percent of the cost of educating a student and the students paid 20 percent. Today, the state pays 45 percent and students 55 percent. Next year, that ratio will drop to 35 percent and 65 percent. Tuition has gone up because the state has withdrawn support, massively.

We have been incredibly smart about trying to save costs and stave off the day when we have to chase more revenue from nonresidents. We don't like doing this and wish we were not in a position where we had to.

But demand for higher education increases and revenue disappears, and we owe it to our students to give them the quality education they have every right to expect from us.

Norman G. Arkans

UW associate vice president

media relations and communications

Seattle

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