OUR READERS' OPINIONS - 03/06/11

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McMorris Rodgers can do better

I like Cathy McMorris Rodgers and I get her newsletter. Recently I was sent a survey from her office by e-mail, asking for a vote on what to do about the budget crisis.

There were only two choices on the survey - 1. vote for the "Continuing Resolution," the Republican backed $100 Billion budget cut, or 2., vote against it and do not cut government spending.

This is an insult to the intelligence of the voter. It is designed to get a favorable vote for the first choice by offering a second choice almost no one would favor. How about choices for cuts of other amounts?

How about $50 billion, $200 billion or $300 billion? Then the responders to Cathy's survey could have provided her with some meaningful input. Even though $100 billion may seem like a lot, it is only one tenth of one trillion dollars, and we as a nation are about $13 trillion in the hole.

For much too long we have spent too much and cut taxes for the rich to boot. Both the Republicans and the Democrats share the blame. They should admit as much, and work in a truly bipartisan spirit to reverse the disastrous course we are on.

And now, our elected officials may shut the government down? Give us a break!

Richmond Clover

College Place

Aviary is for more than birds

Pioneer Park Aviary - is it for the birds? Maybe, but is that all? We shouldn't think so.

Our Aviary has been a part of Pioneer Park for 28 years now and though I'm sure we all appreciate the efforts of the Lioness Club to raise the funds to establish it in the beginning, are parks just for the birds?

Pioneer Park is for rambunctious kids to rid themselves of excess energy, and for our dogs that need exercise, love to chase squirrels and tow their owners around on leashes! How about for family picnics and young lovers who stroll hand in hand?

Educational opportunities? Of course! Entertainment? Yes, that too. Let's not forget, however, those beautiful ornamental pheasants, the colorful peafowl, and the amazing arrays of ducks and geese must be fed every day to remain healthy. Their pens must be cleaned daily to keep them free of disease. These necessary tasks require one qualified full-time and one part-time employee.

An aviary is a unique addition to any park, in any city, and our local businesses, wineries and residents have stepped up to the plate with generous donations to keep the Aviary operating as part of Pioneer Park, so even though we're still short of our first year budget goal of $55,000, it is clear we need to keep pressing on and to try a little harder to keep it "for the birds!"

Tammie Neve

Walla Walla

Six Blue Devils swim at state

Outstanding! How awesome for six of our Wa-Hi athletes to go to the Class 4A state championship swimming meet at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way and do so well. They have to be proud of their accomplishments.

The parents, the coaches and all those who encouraged them must also be pleased with the outcome. Absolutely awesome - and to think next year they will only get faster. Yes, we'll be watching

M. Suzanne Aldrich

Walla Walla

You gotta admire Republicans

Anybody who knows me well would attest to the fact I am an unapologetic liberal Democrat.

But I have to admit, I truly admire the Republicans. Really, I do.

I have been following politics since I cast my first ballot in 1965 and, in my humble opinion, the Republicans have consistently proven themselves to favor big business over consumers, favor the employer over the employee and favor the wealthy over the middle class. Everything they say and every law they enact, bears this out.

They fight consumer protection laws. They want to bust the unions and reduce worker rights. And they always vote to lower taxes for the rich while they take away programs to help the needy.

However, somehow they have managed to convince middle-class, working consumers their way is the best way. Wow.

I sure wish I had the charisma to pull off scams like that. If I did I would be a very wealthy man. But then, I would probably be a Republican wouldn't I?

Dennis Sedam

Walla Walla

Elected officials can't go AWOL

I am a government worker with 27 years of service.

The article of Feb. 24 (Wisconsin troopers sent to find Democrats), to put it bluntly, burns my behind.

Every one of these representatives need to be declared AWOL from their posts for the time they choose not to show for duty.

They should all be given letters of counsel and notice of loss of jobs for any future actions such as this. The responsibility of the cost to send troopers to their homes in search of them should be covered by them as well (not the public).

What these legislators did was no different than a strike or sick out and, as a government employee, I had to sign a no strike contract and am held to account if it can be proven I in any way participated in a sick out.

My punishment - loss of job! I can't just show back up at work as though nothing had happened. Too long have these people just made the rules up as they go with no one to answer to. It needs to stop.

They work for me and my counterparts and I do not know how my counterparts feel but, as one of an employer of elected officials, I say they need to be held accountable for their actions.

AWOL, pay docked for the time missed from work and possibly actually put on a PIP (process improvement plan) to make sure they realize the impact of their actions.

If these people worked anywhere else they would have came back to no jobs.

J.E. Locati

Walla Walla

Darwin's theory might be SWAG

Kirsten Peters' column titled "Biology teachers may be failing our students" is well-presented. She's concerned biology teachers do not teach the basic theory of evolution by natural selection.

I cannot speak for the teachers, however, they took college classes on the subject. I also took such a class. The most memorable part of class was the vehemence directed toward people of the book.

I mean Jews and Christians who believed God had anything to do with creation. Believers in the class were ridiculed. The instructor asserted evolution proved "God did not exist."

Later, I read Darwin's book on the subject. Although a brilliant man, it looks like Darwin made a SWAG. Those initials stand for an old Army term with the G standing for guess. Perhaps, the problem could be solved if the textbooks referred to evolution by natural selection as SWAG.

Terry Schoen

Walla Walla

Unionism is the great equalizer

When the troops came home from World War II my father came home also. He had started out in the Army Air Corps in 1940 and then transferred to the Army paratroopers after the start of the big war.

He jumped out of an airplane over France the night before D-Day and was on the ground behind enemy lines, five days before being taken prisoner. Nine months later he was liberated from the POW camp by the advancing Russian forces.

When he finally arrived home five months later our government helped rehabilitate him and his comrades on a beach in Florida for several months. What to do for living now that the war was over. He decided to become a carpenter and the next step was to join the carpenters union for training. Four years later he completed his apprenticeship and became a journeyman carpenter.

He plied his trade over the next 30-plus years as a skilled craftsman. He ended his career as a business agent for his local union.

Why write about my father?

Good question. First of all I am very proud of him, and secondly he would be saddened by what we see happening in the state of Wisconsin. The overt attempt by Gov. Walker to take the workers' right to collective bargaining away from citizens.

When our troops came home from fighting in WWII above all they wanted fairness in the workplace. People had just come through the Great Depression caused by the wealthy trying to become richer at the expense of the common person.

The union system gave the little guy a stake in the game and the ability to not be run over by the powerful or the elite. I consider myself very lucky to have grown up in a union member's household and to have worked in a union job for 29 years.

If we, as citizens of our great country, lose the ability to form unions and have collective bargaining we will have reverted to the period of the 1880s - the Great Robber Baron Age.

I urge you to write your elected representatives and voice your opinion to not allow this travesty of fairness to happen. Unionism is the great equalizer to big business and we as a country need the balance.

Steven Leroy Rusch

Walla Walla

Don't deny illegal immigrants driver's licenses

The United States government brought hard working Mexican men to our region starting in 1942 as part of the Bracero Program.

These "men who work with their arms" were key to meeting our agricultural labor shortages during World War II. Based upon the quality of their work, area farmers encouraged them to come back to our Valley and bring their families with them.

While Mexican Americans who are here legally and illegally continue to be an essential part of our local economy, they are much more than that. They are our neighbors. They are our students. They are our friends.

There are many voices and opinions about how to rationalize immigration issues in our country. To deny a driver's license to a resident in our state because we've not resolved the greater issues is wrong-headed.

To withhold this privilege is to criminalize our neighbor who is picking her child up from school or driving to work or the grocery store.

It denies a 16 year old who's been here since he was 5, and is as American as you or me, the chance for this rite of passage. It ignores our neighbors' historical connections to our community and their present essential roles.

During hard times, we sometimes lash out at others in fear. This is a time of fear in our country and denying driver's licenses to illegal residents is an idea that comes from that place of fear.

It is both unAmerican and immoral. We ought to do better by our friends and neighbors.

Brian Gabbard

Walla Walla

Theater etiquette is needed

I try to attend as many theater productions as I can. Walla Walla Community College productions are my favorites. Seeing student-actors perform their hard-earned presentations brings more joy than I can explain.

This love of theater began when I was a student at Whitman in the 1980s, and has grown exponentially since then. However, the joy of attending a live theater production has been dampened lately.

Maybe the rise of the electronic age is to blame. I'm not sure. But as I attended the Walla Walla Little Theatre production of 12 Angry Men, my annoyance became overwhelming.

A man sitting directly behind me felt the need to make comments about the show, about the actors, about the set design, throughout the show. Not whispering comments to his companion, but loud-voiced comments for all to hear.

Despite turning and glaring at him several times, he would not desist. Had it not added to the situation, I would have yelled, "Shush! You're not at home! The actors don't hear you!" (Although with his volume, they might have.)

People: Live theater is not the same as watching a movie in your living room! The people around you hear your comments! Each time you speak, our attention is taken away from what is happening on stage and then directed at you and your inane comments. Perhaps this is what you were aiming for, or perhaps you are clueless about what you are doing.

Here is a primer for attending live theater events:

You can be heard! In a darkened theater, your voice carries. Stop it!

Candy wrappers echo terribly in the darkened theater. Stop it!

Oooing and awing over good looking actors is also annoying to others. You may be sitting next to that actor's mom, wife, husband or girlfriend. Stop it!

Getting up to leave during the show breaks the flow of the production for audience members. True, there are emergencies. But save an emergency, wait for intermission. Stop it!

Most of all, again, stop talking during the show! Stop it!

If more people would attempt to follow this list of theater etiquette suggestions, many people will be spared the annoyance of sitting by you. As the WWCC production of Goodly Creatures is playing, let's try to adhere to these suggestions!

Dianne Martin

College Place

US built on opportunity for all

A recent letter (from the liberal left) suggested we must soak the so-called wealthy with new taxes. Obviously, they have no idea about what is fair or just.

When the top 5 percent of taxpayers are carrying over 50 percent of the tax load, they are doing their share many times over. Especially, when the bottom 40 percent pay no income taxes at all.

Should all the wealth of the top 5 percent be confiscated it would only make a small dent in the debt this country has accumulated, much of it in the last 10 years.

It is also true the top 5 percent generate far more jobs and investment than the bottom 40 percent. So it would be unbelievably "smart" to tax them out of business with negative incentives (kill-the-goose-that-lays-the-golden-egg syndrome).

By the way, those who wish to soak the rich (like Al Gore) are certainly free to voluntarily contribute all of their accumulated wealth to the government any time they want to. Don't hold your breath!

No! I am not wealthy by any legitimate measure, yet I have been treated well in this land of opportunity. We tea partiers do have well-developed senses of fairness, fiscal morality and justice. Come add your support. Contact us at wallawallateaparty.blogspot.com to get started.

The U.S. succeeded because all had the opportunity to succeed on their own efforts, not someone else's.

Kenneth D. Emerson

Walla Walla

Simpler sales tax rules needed

The recent U-B editorial position on sales tax collections by Amazon is driven by a desire to support local brick-and-mortar business. It is well-intentioned but misses an important perspective on the complexity of state-by-state sales tax collection.

Go ahead and dislike Amazon; it may not be noble in its motives. But the battle Amazon fights is worthy. Amazon is the only retailer big enough to challenge a complex state sales tax system that hobbles businesses large and small. Without simpler state sales tax rules, only an organization as large as Amazon can employ the fleets of lawyers and accountants necessary to collect sales tax on every delivery address in the United States.

Just to clarify, this is not an argument for a national sales tax. It is an argument for simpler rules for collecting and reporting state sales taxes.

Our state-by-state sales tax situation is so impossibly complex that small businesses (like local bricks and mortar) facing a daunting challenge in growing through national direct to consumer shipment.

The state of Washington is among the worst offenders in complex sales tax collection. Think Walla Walla vs. College Place rates. Now add to that sales tax differentials for locations in or out of the Valley Transit service area.

It takes a detailed block-by-block map to deliver a pizza in Walla Walla County and collect the accurate tax amount at the door. The sales tax return to be filed at the end of the month has to reflect that block-by-block accuracy as well.

Now multiply that pizza delivery by tens of thousands of cities, thousands of counties, thousands of special sales tax districts and 50 states. Pizza Hut may be able to handle it but good local folks like the Heplers who own Big Cheese face absurd complexity in getting the last three cents worth of tax right.

Each state needs to define a single in-bound state sales tax rate with simple reporting. Once that is in place, then the states can start to complain about Amazon's compliance with sales tax collection regulations.

Larry Nelson

Walla Walla

Our past it worth remembering

It is the 150th anniversary of the secession of the first seven states of the confederacy. I think it would be wise to reflect on the lessons from that national catastrophe. I quote from Bruce Canton's "This Hallowed Ground" on a speech Sen. Sumner made in the Senate chamber 155 years ago.

"It was an ominous promise. The date was May 19, 1856, and although there was still a little time left it was running out fast, and angry words might make it run faster. Yet angry words were about the only kind anyone cared to use these days. Men seemed tired of the reasoning process. Instead of trying to convert one's opponents it was simpler just to denounce them, no matter what unmeasured denunciation might lead to."

In this case it led to 600,000 young Americans being slaughtered in battle, the worst war this country has ever fought. (WWII was second at 500,000.)

Compromise is the meat of democracy, without it, it dies. This, dear citizen, is worth remembering.

John Mithchell

Milton-Freewater

Hey, let's fight wolves with saber-toothed tigers

I read with alarm Mr. Nuthak's letter of Feb. 22 concerning wolves at Bennington Lake. Nobody told me when I arrived in the Valley in 1931 that we would be threatened and stalked by such vicious killers as moose, wolves, opossums, weasels, gerbils and pocket gophers.

I hold the present politicians, tree-hugging environmentalists and game agencies responsible for this dangerous situation. i.e, (1) the tree huggers are trying to take upstanding citizens' automatic weapons away, (2) instead of jumping to assist in routing the killers, game wardens seem to be busy full-time protecting endangered species such as the red-breasted bed thresher and (3) politicians are squabbling over how much to cut teachers' and other public employee's pay instead of passing rigid wild animal extermination laws.

Here are some controls Mr. Nuthak might consider for future Washington initiatives recognizing that the politicians will back away from the plate:

1. Create check-in stations at all public sites such as Bennington Lake where city staff issue a 500 Nitro Express rifle to all people over 5 years old who visit the lake.

2. Bang pans together and sing loudly when walking around the lake: "Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf?"

3. Either build a ringed wall such as along the Mexico-Arizona border or install "jaw to jaw" wolf traps around the lake.

4. Clone saber-toothed tigers for re-establishment in Walla Walla's urban area. These trustworthy cats would make quick work of the dangerous local predators that terrorize all of us wimps.

Bob Lewis

Milton-Freewater

How do you spell hypocrisy?

ACORN lives. Now it's under the tent of labor unions and the DNC.

The same tactics that browbeat home loans to people who could not afford them, feeding the greed of bureaucrats at Fanny Mae, Freddy Mac, Countryside, Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank, now use these same tactics to attempt to thwart the will of the people of Wisconsin.

In a land that purports to operate by the rule of law, both parties must be present and vote on a bill. When they fail to abide by the oath they all swear to uphold upon election; and our president encourages riots here while telling all the countries in the Middle East how he abhors violence.

Hmmm. How do you spell hypocrisy? After all the criticism of the tea party, which never encouraged any violence or hate, this has to be at best a very bad joke and at worst a threat to all Americans hold dear.

Patricia Ross

Walla Walla

US leaders allow border trouble

Two of our unarmed ICE agents were shot - one killed and one wounded. The president extended his condolences. That's it?

Probably. Janet Napolitano said " ... violence against our ICE or any DHS personnel is an attack against all who serve our nation." That's it? Sounds like an empty threat to me.

When border guards Compean and Ramos gave a Mexican drug dealer a flesh wound they were imprisoned and the U.S. government was slapped with a $5 million lawsuit.

A rancher was hit with a big penalty because he offended some illegals he held on his property until authorities came to pick them up.

These are just the latest occurrences.

The U.S. used to be respected. Now it is at the mercy of thugs because our leaders have allowed it, even encouraged it by their weak responses and their reluctance to protect the border.

How much damage and how many deaths are we going to tolerate?

Donna Murray

Waitsburg

People must understand impact of suicide

I wanted to acknowledge the people in Walla Walla and the Union-Bulletin for coming forward and publishing the articles in the paper about suicides. My brother was one of those in January who claimed his own life.

We, as a family, are devastated by the loss and did not see it coming. As a family member and survivor, I feel in this area I have nowhere to turn for help on dealing with my grief. Places I have found cost money, money I don't have, so who I am supposed to talk to about how I'm feeling?

I was so glad to see in the article it mentioned it affects everyone, not just certain types of people, but people from all different age groups, social classes, educational levels. The stereotypes need to stop. It could happen to any family at any time.

I also feel awareness needs to be brought to the front on the this taboo subject no one likes to discuss.

Also, the people who are suffering and who want to take their own lives need to know there are people out there who care and love them, who would be devastated at the loss.

I have made a vow to myself, that for one month on my Facebook page I am going to post a wonderful link I was made aware of, along with statistics about suicide, in the hope people will copy it to their page, and maybe someone who is contemplating taking their own life will see that someone does care and there is help and options available to them.

People might not understand or like to see it, but why is it we can cover web pages like Facebook with breast cancer awareness, awareness for other causes, but not for suicide?

Something needs to be done, people need to understand the huge impact it has on the people who are affected by it and once the issue is addressed it continues to be addressed, and not put away after a couple of attempts. We as a community need to come together and figure out a way to stop tragedies like this from happening.

It can be prevented if there are options out there for the people who are thinking about suicide, and they are readily available to people who are thinking death is their only way out of whatever they are suffering, there is always another option, and always someone who will be deeply impacted by the death of a suicide victim.

Cathy Hunter

Walla Walla

The Aviary still needs your help

Well, as we all look forward to spring, the Aviary bird and animal population do also. They ready their nests and habitats for the season changes. The staff get ready the facilities also.

People I know, still take their walks in the cold weather, but look forward to sitting longer and observing more activity. We find them sitting on the benches, when possible, spending quality time observing the activities at the Aviary. They observe the daily changes in activities of the Aviary population. The turtles will be coming out when the sun warms up.

The fish will be more apparent and active. The various fowl will be observing their spring and summer activities. The daily maintenance activities of the staff and volunteers faithfully tend to the Aviary population all year round. We cannot take for granted that, yes, we have been continually and faithfully receiving donations, however, the need still remains.

We all love the Aviary, the opportunity to show children new births, the daily activities and habits of the fowl and various animals there. Seniors who live nearby and those who go on field trips by bus love the experience. All year round, there are tourists who visit the wineries, Fort Walla Walla, Pioneer Park, as well as the other many tourist interests in the area.

Are there opportunities we are missing for fund raising? Are there people who do not really know just how they can help the Aviary cause? All of us in the Walla Walla Valley are important in the campaign to save the Aviary.

We can all help in our own way. We all have a network of people and resources.

We truly have a treasure here, and we are passionate about the Aviary and Pioneer Park. I was always so thankful and blessed to grow up within walking distance to Pioneer Park. This is a wonderful community of people who are proud of our city.

I have lived in a number of big cities, but I am so thankful I lived close enough to visit Pioneer Park. I did miss it when I was living elsewhere.

I appreciate your faithful support of our treasure.

Lanetta Romero

Walla Walla

A thought about budget problems

This does not apply to Walla Walla police, firemen and related public employees. They have demonstrated the wisdom of common sense.

But I have a suggestion for the rest of the country with regard to the current economic crisis, especially those suffering "losses" vis-a-vis employment.

Here it is: Continue to pay all public employees their full salary. When the money runs out - and it will - give each employee his/her check as usual. The check should be made out to the respective employee for the exact amount payable: $000.00, or for the high-rollers $0000.00

In this way they will be allowed to join the ranks of the "un"employed workers who are ahead of them - and perhaps learn what unions are all about. Or at least their union leaders.

Of course, this also means those who support public employees will probably be out of work, no longer paying taxes and broke.

Wow! What a scenario!

Will this happen?

No ... but it's a thought.

Richard Meyers

Milton-Freewater

Don't panic but be alert for wolves

I have received numerous calls since my letter on wolves in the area.

Many want to know how does one get to see them and will they hurt my dog. Seeing wolves while afoot is on most cases a matter of place and timing.

In wolf-management areas such as we had in Alaska, one will generally only see wolves at a considerable distance. In such instances spotting them from plane or a high vantage point is the most sure way to spot them.

They generally move in closer to humans in the dark of night. In most cases this is when wolves kill livestock and wildlife as well.

There is no reason to panic, just be alert to your surroundings for the same reason seasoned mushroom pickers are always alert for mountain lions - as mountain lions have a tendency to pounce on a person when stooping or bent over to pick mushrooms.

Enjoy your outdoors.

Carl A. Nuthak

Walla Walla

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