Our readers' opinions - 05/22/11

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Keep state's presidential primary

Whether or not one believes the presidential primary is a mere beauty contest, as the Union-Bulletin editorial (May 17) would suggest, the fact remains that our political process has been tampered with by self-serving politicians, who otherwise typically demonstrate little if any fiscal discipline.

Days before the above editorial, I read with disgust that our elected officials had chosen to strike at the foundation of our long-held and fought-for political process. As a veteran I was deeply offended by our state's decision to forego the 2012 presidential primary, all in the name of saving $10 million.

Since when do politicians concern themselves with $10 million when they've been instrumental in a $5 billion shortfall?

Moreover, since when do we put a price tag on a process we've fought for around the world? This would all be comical if it weren't so pathetic. To say this was a difficult decision for our officials would be deceptive at best.

In reality, it was political grandstanding by both parties.

Like it or not, both the caucus and popular vote processes are used to apportion state delegates. Until our politicians can show some real courage and propose other means of reaching out to all Washingtonians in a less encumbered and more representative way, I respectfully suggest they leave the current process alone, including -- and especially -- the popular vote.

Sebastian Giannini

Waitsburg

Proposed sentence for felon confusing

I found the article about Elliott W. Barnes (May 17) confusing. It was well-written and the facts seem plain, but what is confusing to me is the prosecution's proposed sentence.

The facts as reported are: He is 26; he is a four-time convicted felon; he pleaded guilty to (a) possession of a stolen firearm, (b) unlawful possession of a firearm, (c) two counts of attempting to elude a police vehicle; he has led police on previous chases; and he has pleaded guilty previously to felony eluding.

So how does this all lead to a "deal" that will reduce a sentence from 10-13 years to six-years-plus outpatient drug treatment? And given any of these sentences, what is the likelihood of parole reducing the sentences followed by more criminal acts?

By the way, didn't see any mention of drug problems.

Does all this make sense?

Dick Swenson

Walla Walla

Small tax will help save lives

I am heartened by recent letters to the editor supporting the one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax to help address the gaps in services to people suffering from chemical dependency and mental illness.

This tax amounts to one penny on a $10 purchase. When our 20-year-old washing machine died recently, we bought a new washer and dryer for $900 -- if the new sales tax were in place, we would have added less than $1 to the purchase.

That's a small price to pay for helping people -- our children, grandchildren, relatives, in-laws, friends, neighbor, and strangers we pass on the street -- who are in desperate need of services.

Passing the tax is not only the right thing to do ¬?-- it is fiscally responsible. Research consistently shows that for every dollar spent on substance use treatment, taxpayers save $7 in crime and criminal justice costs. When researchers add in savings related to health care, the savings-to-cost ratio is 12:1 -- in other words, for every dollar we spend to help someone who struggles with chemical dependency or mental illness, we save $12.

A 2003 study in our state showed that money spent on treatment reduces individual medical costs by $311/month and state hospital expenses by $48/month; the likelihood of being arrested by 16 percent; and the likelihood of felony convictions by 34 percent.

For welfare clients in our state, chemical dependency treatment was associated with reduced medical expenses totaling $2,500 per year.

If you're interested in knowing more about the "cost offset" of substance use treatment, check out this link on the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration website: www.samhsa.gov/grants/CSAT-GPRA/general/SAIS_GPRA_CostOffsetSubstanceAbuse.pdf

I commend our county commissioners for their strong and courageous leadership in considering this small tax that will help save lives and make our community a safer, more compassionate place to live.

If the tax is passed, every citizen of this county will benefit in the long run.

Kathy Ketcham

Walla Walla

Sarah Palin has become shrill shill

A lineup of all-male Big Oil executives recently insisted to Congress that they keep their welfare payments (tax breaks/subsidies) in spite of huge profits. This reminded me of the feisty female who, once upon a time, took on Big Oil -- and won.

Her name is Sarah Palin. In spite of her inexperience, she understood two principles of good governance: You must work with the other side and sometimes you have to raise taxes.

Gov. Palin cooperated with Democrats and moderate Republicans to raise taxes on the oil companies operating in her state. Even calls from then-Vice President Dick Cheney didn't make her back off. She made Alaska one of the financially strongest states in the nation. And she exposed corruption in her own party.

But something happened. Almost overnight Sarah Palin became the raucous voice of political incivility. She turned away from being an uncommonly effective governor to work in the entertainment industry: Fox News, a book, a reality TV show, speeches and appearances all over. Her courageous stand against Big Oil faded away.

I don't really like the Sarah Palin this exceptional woman has become. But I really, really could have admired the Sarah Palin she once was.

I wish she hadn't changed. From being a true reformer, it seems, sadly, that she is now just a shrill shill. And Big Oil executives sleep better these days.

Ah, Sarah, who did your recasting? I hope it wasn't you.

Susan J. Day

Walla Walla

Balloon Stampede disappointing

Guess I have stayed quiet long enough.

On Saturday the balloons did not get up as they usually do on Saturday morning. Just a little disappointed not to see the balloons in the sky when I woke up. But that goes with the rest of this event this year.

Have you seen the shirts for this year? They are not the traditional jewel colors. The colors were muted this year.

The only one that looked halfway wearable was the light blue shirt. The logo did not go with the traditional Balloon Stampede theme.

This year it is disappointing all the way around. Oh well, maybe next year will be better.

The committee should have kept it Mothers' Day weekend ... that is tradition. Someone on the committee did not like tradition. Did not work folks.

Had very negative comments about the shirts this year. Sorry ... but I am honest.

Friday there were balloons up ... hurrah for you. They are usually up on Thursday evening, Friday morning, Saturday morning and Sunday morning.

I said my piece.

Rosey Swanson

Walla Walla

Don't let God be taken from our lives

I have a question for the people of the United States of America. Why are we allowing God almighty to be taken away from our children and our lives?

Courtrooms have references to God in them. So why do we not value him in our lives? The U.S Supreme Court displays The Ten Commandments above where the justices sit.

Bible verses are etched in stone all over federal buildings and monuments in Washington, D.C. But, we hear all the time that our children cannot pray.

There are people who want to remove "Under God" from our pledge of allegiance. The words, "In God We Trust" may be taken off our money.

Without God, we are nothing. Are we a God-fearing country? If we walk away from God, is he going to continue to bless us? If God is not good enough for us, what makes us think we are good enough for him?

Most of my family have served in the military. Those who have passed on would be very upset that we are letting Barack Obama change our country for the worse.

If we do not have freedoms, and we lose God, then what do we have?

There are people who want to insert Muslim ways and Sharia law into our lives.

Is there no one who is willing to step up and say how wrong it is?

I will not be forced into a religion that demeans women, allows violence against non-Muslims, and denies Jehovah God. I am a person who believes in the God of the Bible, and his son, Jesus Christ!

Arlene Hiatt

Prescott

War, petroleum at root of problem

What causes our colossal, suicidal deficit?

War causes the deficit. We are a war-fixated tribe, and conveniently we blame others. Our virtual morality allows this.

Why do we war?

Our war profiteers make a killing that we do so. The profiteers control the great sources of our information, and our potency and policy. They teach us whom we hate.

Can they be stopped?

They can be waylaid if we pursue war's equivalent against our littler enemy, the internal combustion engine, and if we obviate petroleum. Every high school and college -- and weirdo inventor -- could be enlisted.

With such an achievement, the Middle East would disappear from our national consciousness within a generation.

We are a clever people. We could find an alternative and it might take that generation for the profiteers to wrap their pretty mitts around it.

David Castleman

Dayton

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